I’m aware that I often talk here about a softly, softly approach when it comes to overcoming procrastination and stretching our comfort zone.  I’m very much of the Start-Small-and-Build Brigade when it comes to working with “my people”, most of whom are sensitive souls (like me!).  And I do this because it works!

But that doesn’t mean we think small. My work is all about helping professionals and entrepreneurs ditch the imposter syndrome to take their place and embrace their big ambitions.

And that means we sometimes bump into limiting beliefs – the thought patterns and mindsets that restrict us and close down options. They feel true, fixed, embedded – so much so we often don’t notice them or their impact.  Examples might be “I’m no good at public speaking”, “I can’t do anything about that”, “I’m useless with money”, “That’s not for me”.

Limiting beliefs respond wonderfully to coaching.  We shine a light on them, create some distance to evaluate and challenge, and then practice new ways to shift them once and for all. So we can stretch, grow and step into who we were always meant to be – no more playing it small or safe.  Just because we build with softly, softly doesn’t mean we are softly, softly.

I came across an interesting study related to this last week called “The Batman Effect”. They subdivided a group of 4 – 6 year olds into 3 groups and asked them all to work as hard as they could on a difficult project. When they’d had enough, they were allowed to play.

  • Group 1 was told to keep checking in with how they were feeling (“how am I doing?”)
  • Group 2 was taught how to step “outside” of themselves and think in the third person (“how is Emma doing?”). Essentially giving some awareness and self-distancing.

  • Group 3 was told to imagine they were their favourite superhero (“how is Batman doing?”). Here, the children believed they were something more powerful than themselves.

And I guess it comes as no surprise that Group 3 persevered the most, followed by 2 and then 1.  And so by bringing some self awareness and distancing, we can push ourselves passed our limiting beliefs.  

And we can take that further by accessing an inner superhero or alter ego.  It’s not as far fetched as it might seem – remember that non-conscious brain.  When we imagine being strong, powerful and invincible, our autonomic nervous system processes that as the reality – which means an aspect of our conscious brain goes along with it too.  I often recommend people access a version of themselves who can do what they’re struggling with, and to adopt the body language of those who are nailing it.  Seemingly Beyonce and Adele use this technique, creating alter egos for their stage personas (of course, it doesn’t have to be Batman!).

It’s a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety and imposter syndrome, to increase perseverance when things are tough and to boost self-control.

All of which means you can show up as the real you, and finally take your place.

So what’s not to love?  And who are the alter egos you’re going to line up for what’s ahead? Feel free to choose different ones for different situations.  I’m off to ponder mine…