Shonda Rhimes, the amazing creator of the shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal as well as executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder, is a super busy working mom. She balances her demanding job with being a single mother of 3 young girls but one Thanksgiving, everything changed. While describing all the things she was asked to do but chose not to, her sister muttered “You never say yes to anything”.
This one exchange with her sister made her take a look at her life in a whole new way. She chose to spend the following year saying yes to everything she feared and chronicling that year into the book “A Year of Yes”. What she learned about herself during that challenging year made her book a New York Times Bestseller and a soul sister for many women.
I worked with that book for an entire year with a women’s group I was a part of. We all had amazing breakthroughs while we worked on saying yes to things like compliments, having fun and our bodies to name just a few. That year long journey with Shonda and each other, made us grow in ways we hadn’t challenged ourselves to grow before. Even though we ranged in age from early retirement to newly-married, we all had much to learn as women about the power of saying yes.
As I continue to manage my own mind along with helping my coaching clients to do the same, I can see first-hand how our limiting beliefs can be so incredibly powerful. We have practiced thoughts and ways of being for so long that we don’t even see how they are showing up in our lives. Like Shonda, we’ve just normalized them and have continued to think, feel and act the way we’ve always done.
Since working on Shonda’s book a few years ago I’ve learned a good deal about how the brain works. The most interesting thing is how our repetitive thoughts create neural pathways that over time become like well-worn grooves in a record (or well-worn paths in the grass for any of you too young to know what a vinyl record is J). Our brain creates a “connection” that efficiently generates the same thought/feeling/action pattern around circumstances that are similar.
But each time we have had the opportunity to uncover a “connection” or well-worn groove that isn’t serving us, we can actually change it. By uncovering a limiting belief, our brain has the opportunity to create a new neural pathway that goes like this:
- Old pathway – If A (circumstance), then B (old belief)
- New pathway – If A (same circumstance), then C (new belief)
Because of this realization and the power of creating new neural pathways, I have decided to do something different for this coming New Year. I have decided to do a Year of “No More”. I know it goes against the positive thought teachings that I value but I think it’s important to shine a light on the beliefs that are no longer serving me and replace them with ones that do.
My Year of “No More”
Here’s a look at the monthly work I’ll be doing over the next year. I will share my experience at the end of each quarter so make sure you don’t miss my progress reports:
- No more insults towards myself – this means no more negative self-talk; no more self-deprecating comments about myself in order to “fit in” with others; no more looking in the mirror and finding all the things I don’t like about myself. Instead, I’m going to make self-care a priority and playfully wink at myself every time I walk by a mirror and smile 😉
- No more keeping a scorecard – this means no more keeping score when I do something in my house or at work that others may not be doing; no more making a mental note when I reach out to a friend more than they do. Instead, I’m going to start my thoughts (aka the sentences in my head) with “I get to….” as in “I get to take care of my dogs” and “I get to reach out to my friend”.
- No more excuses for not having fun – this means no more using the excuse that it’s busy season so I can’t do anything other than work and sleep; no more putting fun on hold “until”. Instead, I will plan weekly things to do to have fun even if it means staying home and having a game night with my husband.
- No more comparing to others – this means no more looking at the “perfect” version of someone’s life on Facebook and thinking they have it better than I do; no more looking at other women who don’t have the struggles I do and thinking they have it so easy. Instead I’m going to choose to celebrate others, their happiness and their achievements because it will give me a better sense of what’s possible for me as well.
- No more doing it all myself (aka martyrdom) – this means no more assuming that asking for help makes me look weak; no more assuming that other people won’t want to help when asked. Instead I’m going to choose to believe that it makes me look smarter to ask for help and accept that help with gratitude.
- No more playing small – this means no more assuming that my age is any indication of what I’m capable of; no more assuming that I can’t learn or try something new. Instead I’m going to put together a bucket list of things that challenge me to grow and then manage my mind in order to take action on them (if I could jump out of a plane for the first time at 52 years old this year then there’s nothing that can stop me now!).
- No more assuming the worst – this means no more letting my mind tell “worst case scenario” stories; no more using my imagination to create what I don’t want. Instead I’m going to question my thoughts by asking “Is that true? Can I absolutely know that that’s true?” and choose a better feeling thought.
- No more overanalyzing other people – this means no more assuming I know why anyone is behaving the way they are; no more trying to get to “the bottom” of someone’s mood. Instead I’m going to practice knowing that everyone’s feelings and actions are created by their thoughts and they have the right to think whatever they choose.
- No more taking things personally – this means no more using someone else’s words or actions as a reason to feel negative emotion; no more needing people to be different in order for me to feel better. Instead I’m going to recognize that how people act has everything to do with their thoughts and nothing to do with me.
- No more delaying taking action – this means no more delaying doing something in order to consume more information; no more needing to have A+ work before I put it out into the world. Instead I’m going to choose to be comfortable with B- work instead of letting perfectionism rob me of getting things done.
- No more minding someone else’s business – this means no more judging what other people are doing or not doing; no more assuming I know what’s best for anyone else. Instead I’m going to keep the focus on keeping my side of the street clean and work on minding my own mind.
- No more fear around setting an “impossible” goal – this means no more using the feeling of fear as an excuse to not work on an “impossible” goal; no more letting my brain tell me that I’m not capable of attempting something I’ve never done before. Instead I’m going to redefine failure as “learning” and use the Manage Your Mind Model in order to take massive action on anything I want to achieve (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
So that is my Year of “No More” broken down by month and I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. I know how great it was to work on “A Year of Yes” and how much I learned about myself. Now I’m looking forward to uncovering those limiting beliefs that have been taking up space in my brain.
The “No More” Challenge
Now it’s your turn:
- Are there any limiting beliefs that you can say “No More” to?
- Are there ways of thinking, feeling and doing that are no longer serving you?
- You don’t have to take an entire year to make a change; you can start with just one limiting belief in this moment.
- Write a list of the things that you would like to say “No More” to.
- Share that list with a friend or two and hold each other accountable
Learning to say “No More” to what’s getting you results you don’t want is how to change your life for the better. I hope you’ll join me over the course of this year and we can celebrate 12 months from now.