Are you feeling a bit stuck right now? If so, why?
Pause for a minute with this question and see what your brain offers you.
Then, take it a bit further by asking yourself, what’s the specific “flavor” of stuck I’m experiencing?
Am I frustrated because I think I should have gotten more done today?
Do I feel worried because I think my daughter’s not getting what she needs at school?
Am I anxious about situations throughout the world when I think about what we’re facing as a collective whole?
If any of the above questions resonate with you, then you’re in the right place.
Because in episode 111 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we’re talking about how to approach our concerns and examine our beliefs.
We’re considering different perspectives and ways of thinking.
And we’re exploring how to support ourselves and those we love in a way that feels true and authentic.
So if you’re ready to dig in and do the work of questions your beliefs and exploring new perspectives, episode 111 has your name on it.
You can listen to the episode below or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
Listen To The Podcast Here!
In This Episode, You Will Discover How To…
- Examine and question your existing beliefs
- Understand why you are feeling tension and discomfort
- Decide intentionally what you want to believe so you can show up in a way that serves you and those you love
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Listen to episode 80 here
- Listen to episode 100 here
- Learn my top 6 strategies to boost your focus and concentration (free training)
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
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Also, if you love the podcast, would you be a rockstar and leave me a review? Reviews help others find the show and allow me to share my message even further. Thanks, friend!
Episode #111: One Powerful Question To Help Change Your Limiting Beliefs (Transcript)
You’re listening to that I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 111. Hello everybody. What’s happening with you? How have you been?
Over the last several weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of tension going on on both the big and the small scale. I’ve noticed these tensions in myself. I’ve heard from clients also feeling tension in their lives whether it’s frustration with themselves for not following through on something, with friends or family, or co-workers for wasting time or not respecting boundaries. And I’ve seen reflected in the news and on social media more broadly in terms of this growing tension and frustration regarding how we think “other people” should or shouldn’t act. And – of course – whenever we hear that sneaky word “should” pop up, we want to hit pause.
Back in episode 80 of the I’m busy being awesome podcast, I talked about the concept of the manual. As a quick reminder, the manual is basically a book that we each have of unwritten rules for how we think other people in our lives should show up. And right now, it seems as though many of us are feeling some tension — whether that’s frustration, annoyance, judgment, Etc – because the rest of the world – on a small scale personally and a larger scale – is not following our manuals. Rude.
And please note that I said our. There was no finger-pointing here. I have my big rulebook as well. But when we notice these tensions creeping in. When we notice that we’re having a negative experience in our relationship with ourselves, with our loved ones, or with other people in the world. This presents an opportunity to check-in and make sure that we like all of the rules that we have written in that manual.
And this week I want to talk about these tensions more closely. And to do this, I want to share with you a powerful question that we can ask ourselves in many different scenarios to help create some clarity. We can use this question to help us explore the thoughts that are causing our tension and frustration. And we can use it to increase our intentionality about whether we want to continue thinking these thoughts, or if we want to shift our perspective.
Now, as you listen to this episode, you may notice yourself reacting to certain examples that I give or ideas that I offer. You may notice yourself feeling frustrated or annoyed thinking about the ideas that I suggest. That’s okay. In fact, I noticed myself having the same emotions – and I’m the one creating this podcast. So I encourage you to open up to whatever emotions come up for you as we explore this topic.
This is a beautiful opportunity – if you’re willing – to shine a light on those areas where you feel some of this tension or discomfort. It offers an opportunity to stay open and curious and learn more about yourself and what you want to think and feel about whatever is going on in your life whether on a small personal scale or a larger scale. And the question that we’re going to play with today to help us with this inquiry is: what if I’m wrong about that?
So are you ready? Let’s start with some of the tensions and frustrations that we might feel on a personal level toward ourselves right now. Because here’s the deal. Hearing from my clients and noticing in myself – this may be where some of the biggest tension is at the moment. I know myself. I know my clients. And I know so many of you listeners from connecting with you on Instagram and over email. Our busy awesome community is generally much harder on ourselves than on anybody else in our lives.
We constantly tell ourselves, I should be farther along. I should know what to do. We think, “I should be more in control of my time, or I should be better at following through on my schedule,” And so on and so forth.
What if I’m Wrong About That?
And to all of these self-judgments, I want to say, “what if you’re wrong about that?” What if that is a thought error? What if you should not be farther along right now? In fact, what if you’re in exactly the right place? How might that be true? Why does it make sense that – as a new mother – you are not in more control of your time right now? What if you’re wrong about that?
And I know I just offered a lot of questions. But I encourage you to pause and think about them.
And I’ll give you an example of my own work that I’ve been doing recently to give you an idea of how this might look. So back in episode 100, I talked about the coaching work from doing them myself in regard to releasing perfectionism and embracing B+ work. And by the time this episode comes out, it’s almost 3 months ago – which is crazy town. Now I also mentioned a couple of episodes ago that I finally asked for help with editing my podcast episodes. I finally reached out and hired a podcast editor.
Now during this experience, I knew there would be some challenges in regard to finding someone to do the work and sticking to a schedule so that they actually have time to edit the podcast ahead of time. I can’t be doing it at the last minute. But I was not prepared for the huge wave of vulnerability and discomfort that I felt when I had to send my unedited podcast over to a complete stranger. I was not prepared for all of the self-judgment that came up. There was so much concern about what my editor would think about the number of times I messed up this thing or that thing. I was so worried about what they think of me when I would stumble over my words or if my ideas didn’t make sense.
And of course, logically, I knew that these were my own insecurities that I was projecting onto my podcast editor. But it felt very real. So on one level, I was judging myself and my work; I had all of this tension about my work not being good enough to send to my podcast editor. And then on another level on top of that judgment — because my brain is extra fun — I was judging myself thinking, you should be over this perfectionist thinking by now! Come on, get it together. It’s been over three months. What’s the deal here? (I’m telling you. It can be super fun in my brain sometimes.)
But eventually, I caught myself in this spiral of negative self-talk, and I hit pause. And I hit pause with the question, what if I’m wrong about that? What if I’m wrong about my podcast editor judging me? What if I’m wrong about the idea that I should be farther along and not dealing with perfectionism anymore? And I made myself pause and answer these questions. How is it possible that my podcast editor may not be judging me for making mistakes?
Well, it is their job to edit podcasts, so chances are they’ve heard it before. Plus — and this is a thought that I really loved – we are on the same team. We have the same goal of getting these podcasts out to all of you. So with that in mind, perhaps they are not thinking mean, critical thoughts about me. Perhaps they have other things to think about. Maybe I’m wrong about that.
And then I moved on to myself. What if I’m wrong that I should be farther along in terms of releasing my perfectionist thoughts? What if I shouldn’t be “over” my perfectionist brain yet. and even though my brain really wanted to fight this, I made myself sit with it and answer. I made myself find a response. And I realized, well, I am doing something new and unfamiliar. I am working with someone new. And what’s more, I am releasing control over something that I have held onto tightly for over two years. That’s not an easy thing for me to do.
Plus, my perfectionist set of thoughts are quite well-practiced. I have created a very strong neural pathway in my brain. And I know that the human brain — when faced with something new or unfamiliar or scary — reverts to old thought patterns. So perhaps it’s perfectly normal, and in fact expected, that I had these thoughts. I am in a space of growth, which means my brain freaks out. Totally normal. Nothing has gone wrong. And by questioning my beliefs with that simple question, what if I’m wrong about that? It released so much tension. And it allowed me to show up with more compassion for myself and a greater focus on my work. And if you ask me, that’s a win-win.
Similarly, I had a client judging themselves saying, “I can’t believe I’m bringing this up on our call again. I know we’ve already talked about it before. I should have it together by now.” And to all of my clients who have ever had that thought – and to anybody listening whoever works with a coach – what if you’re wrong about that?
In this particular situation, the client was talking about setting and maintaining boundaries. And in my experience, simply talking about the concept of setting boundaries once does not mean that you should have it all figured out. Just because you’ve talked about it once doesn’t mean that it’s all fixed. You may understand the concept intellectually, but we still need to put it into practice. And we still need to experience and process the uncomfortable emotions that come with setting and maintaining those boundaries. We need to learn from each experience. So if you’re thinking of yourself, I should be farther along. I should get this right away. There shouldn’t be a learning curve for me. What if you’re wrong about that?
Arguing With Reality
So now let’s expand outward a little further. Let’s talk about feeling that tension or frustration with family or friends or co-workers. Let’s think about any kind of one-on-one interaction with other people generally. Again, I’ll give you one of my examples first. Because I have no shortage of them. A couple of weeks ago I was updating some of the information on my website and I’m generally a pretty tech-y person. I don’t have crazy amazing coding skills or anything. But I’m pretty DIY, and I did build my own website.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I made an update to a page and something on the website broke. and this happens. But the thing that really got to me was that I could not figure out what happened. And this is where I started arguing with reality. I stayed up super late several nights in a row. I was blaming WordPress and blaming the entire internet trying to figure out what was going on. And I was convinced that I had a broken plug-in or wrong piece of code somewhere. And I could feel myself arguing with reality. I could feel myself getting incredibly frustrated with what was going on.
Of course, the reason why I was actually frustrated was from all of my thoughts. I was thinking to myself, “this shouldn’t be happening. I should be able to fix this. WordPress is stupid.” and for a little while, I kept trying to fix the same things over and over. Now, if you have heard the quote ” insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” you may be laughing right now. Because that’s exactly what I was doing, and I felt a bit like I was losing my mind because I kept arguing with how things were and believing I needed to fix the problem on my site. but then I finally paused and asked myself, what if I’m wrong about this? What is the problem is not my website? What if the problem is not WordPress?
And that question helped me slow down and open my mind to alternatives. It helped me consider other fixes. And that ultimately led me to my website host. So already, this one simple question helped me get off the hamster wheel of trying the same things over and over and find a new solution. It helped me move forward. It helped me stop blaming poor WordPress, which was doing nothing wrong.
So then, that leads me to my website host. And I reached out to the 24-hour chat service thinking that they could help me. Because in the past, they always helped fix things in an instant. If I could figure it out, it wasn’t a problem. They would just log into my site and fix it for me. It was amazing. That was not my experience this time around. This time as I chatted with the person on the other side, they kept sending me links to articles and videos that should supposedly solve the problem. And when the suggestion in the video or the link didn’t work, or I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do, they would send me another link.
Well let me tell you, at this point, I had essentially pulled out my manual of how the 24-hour customer service chat should be helping me. Now, I didn’t tell them by manual specifically; I did at least refrain from that. But in my mind, my manual read something like: they should stop sending me links. And they should actually offer to go into my website and fix it. They should help me just like they did in the past.
But what if I was wrong about that? (And I’m not going to lie, I wanted to argue this one. I really believed in my manual.) But I did pause to really think about that question. “What if I’m wrong here? What if they shouldn’t be following this manual?” And as I considered this, I realized that the last time I had that kind of incredible support was several years ago. It was certainly before 2020 when the whole world went online and demand for internet support went way up.
Thinking about that perspective helped me realize that it’s possible — and in fact probable — that the company policy changed. And the person on the other end of the chat was doing exactly what they were supposed to do. This was not a personal attack on me, which is what my toddler brain dramatically wanted me to believe. They were doing their job correctly.
And once I decided to drop my manual for the hosting service I, first of all, felt much better overall because I stopped arguing with reality. I stopped arguing with what is. But in addition, I was able to think more clearly and actually find the answers that I needed with a combination of the articles that they sent me and some additional searching. So maybe I was wrong about that thought. Because now I know even more about my site. I know even more about how to fix it when this problem comes up again. And I’m now empowered even further in this area, which is pretty awesome.
Expectations For Other People
So that was my one-on-one encounter and how I used this question: what if I’m wrong about that? But how might this play out in closer relationships? Let’s say you plan to meet a friend for coffee. You agree to meet that one and she shows up 20 minutes late. And as you’re waiting, you’re feeling that familiar tension and frustration because you’re thinking to yourself, she’s always late. She should have let me know she’s running late. She clearly doesn’t respect my time.
Let’s play with this question again. What if you’re wrong about that? And I know — you may be pushing back here. I get it. But sit with the question and step into a place of curiosity. What if we are wrong about all of it? Allow yourself the space to examine each one of your thoughts so you can decide intentionally which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to release. You can keep them all if you want to. I’m not going to tell you what to think. But I do encourage you to be intentional about it.
So let’s start with the thoughts she’s always late — and the follow-up thought underneath it, which is “and she shouldn’t be.” What if I’m wrong about that? How is it possible did this isn’t true? Well, maybe she’s not always late. Maybe that’s a generalization. Maybe she is late sometimes. And sometimes she’s on time.
Alternatively, if she is always late, is it true that she shouldn’t be late this time? If that is her M.O. — if that’s her mode of operation – do you want to keep arguing with reality thinking that she shouldn’t be late every time? Or would you rather just plan to arrive 10 minutes later knowing she’ll be late?
Or, do you like your reasons for wanting to arrive on time and respecting that time boundary, so you decide to let her know, “I love you. And I want to see you. But if you’re more than 15 minutes late and I don’t hear from you beforehand, I am going to leave. It’s not personal. I love you. But my time is really important to me and I am not going to wait more than 15 minutes.” All of these options are available to you. And when you come at the situation from curiosity and love – whether you find areas where you might be wrong or you decide you like your reasons and want to set a boundary, it feels so much less terrible.
Or let’s think about that other thought, she doesn’t respect my time. What if I’m wrong about that? Is it true that just because she’s 15 minutes late it means she doesn’t respect your time? Maybe she was ADHD and she’s timeblind. Maybe her babysitter was late and she got there soon as she could. Or maybe she got stuck in traffic that Google Maps didn’t anticipate. We don’t know. And when we allow ourselves to open up to other options rather than jumping to the immediate conclusion – we feel so much less pain for ourselves. Because we’re not making her actions mean something about us. We’re not making her actions of being 15 minutes late mean that she doesn’t respect us. Instead, her actions are neutral. And we get to decide what we think about them.
Now I think I should probably make clear that I’m not saying to let people do or say whatever they want regardless of how it impacts. No. That’s not what I’m saying. I am not giving the world permission to do whatever they want and you have to put up with it. What I am saying is that when we can slow down our reaction time and decide intentionally what we want to think and feel. When we can open ourselves up to consider alternative viewpoints first. This allows us to make a decision with confidence. It allows us to have our own back because we know we gave the situation some thought, we like our reasons for our actions, and we can move forward knowing that.
All right. Let’s pull back a little bit further. We’ve talked about your feelings of tension or frustration with yourself due to negative self-talk and judgment. We’ve talked about these feelings in regard to one-on-one interactions whether it’s someone on the other side of a 24-hour chat or a best friend or family member. Now let’s pull back to an even bigger picture.
Thoughts About The Bigger Picture
Maybe it’s a situation with your school district and your thoughts about how they are handling a situation at your child’s school. It might be how your state is navigating a specific law. Maybe it’s how people are showing up in your county or your country or the world. There are plenty of things going on, and chances are, you have some thoughts about some of them since you’re a human with a brain.
And again, I encourage you to stay open. And please don’t use this work against yourself or in a way that’s not in alignment with you or your values. Anything I share is always intended to help support you and help you dig deeper and understand yourself further.
So like I said, there are plenty of circumstances in the world, which we all have thoughts about. And wherever it is for you personally where you might be feeling some tension or frustration or judgment, I encourage you to explore the question, what if I’m wrong here? And if the word wong feels triggering, perhaps ask yourself, what might I be missing? is it possible that my idea or understanding of a certain situation might not have all of the information? Could it be that someone with a different background or set of beliefs or life circumstances might have a different opinion than I do? And if I knew their story, or if I had a better understanding of what they’ve experienced, is it possible I’d be more understanding of their perspective?
Now again, this does not mean you have to agree with them. It does not mean you have to change your beliefs or your ideas. That’s not what I’m saying. But I know that for myself, when I’ve noticed my brain offering the thought, “I just don’t understand how it can be this way.” Or I don’t understand how someone could say or not say something. I’ve noticed it’s incredibly powerful when I slow down and I ask myself what if I’m wrong about that? What if I’m wrong about not being able to understand? What if I could try to learn a little bit more about that other perspective? And what if I could get curious about it?
This doesn’t mean I have to agree. And in fact, it might even reconfirm the beliefs that I have. That’s beautiful, too. This process allows me to check in and know that I have a better understanding of where they’re coming from, and I still hold true in my beliefs. Doing this opens me up to a broader perspective. It grants me the opportunity to practice an understanding and compassion that I might otherwise miss. And it opens potential doors for greater conversation and growth, which is a win in my book.
So if you are experiencing any tension or frustration right now. If you notice yourself arguing with reality about how you should be further ahead on your work or doing this thing or that thing faster. If you notice yourself feeling annoyed without others are showing up in your life. Or if you notice they’re not following your manual. If you’re telling yourself you just don’t understand how this person were these people could act in a certain way, I encourage you to pause. I encourage you to drop into curiosity. And I encourage you to ask yourself, what if I’m wrong about that? Is it possible I might be missing something? What if there’s another story or another perspective to consider?
It doesn’t mean you have to change your belief or start telling yourself you’re always wrong. Again, I can’t say this enough. Please don’t use this work against yourself. But if you want to relieve some of that discomfort that comes along with judgment and frustration. And if you want to step into the openness of curiosity and understanding of both yourself and others. Then I invite you to play around with this question and see what you discover.