Self Exclusion: Blocking the Path to Your Success

pathway in between trees at daytime

Last month, I wrote about what happens when you are feeling subtly excluded from a group, an activity, or an opportunity — an insidious experience that, because it’s difficult to pin down, spawns self-doubt.

A similar phenomenon is self exclusion, which occurs when you take yourself out of the game. In this case, you have convinced yourself you are not ready, not good enough, or don’t belong. These conscious or unconscious beliefs keep you from achieving your full potential — and can play havoc with your confidence.

How would you characterize your confidence level? Even if you feel pretty confident most of the time, there are likely moments when you hold yourself back. It’s important to acknowledge what is happening and course correct.

You have to deal with the stress (even periodic shame, perhaps?) that may occur when you confront the idea that you are standing in your own way. After acknowledging that you may be excluding yourself from fully participating and pursuing your goals, the next step is understanding why. The answer may show up as you consider these questions:

Are You Upper Limiting? 

Upper limiting is creating a false ceiling for what you can truly achieve by sabotaging or limiting the goals you set for yourself. This happens when self-doubt causes you to negotiate with yourself.You lower your hopes or aim for less than you really want. It’s not surprising that when you aim lower, you achieve even less. It becomes a cycle of negotiating downward. If you see this in yourself, it’s time to stop limiting your ambitions based on what you believe is achievable. 

Once you’ve acknowledged the limits that you’ve placed on yourself, the opportunity exists to aim higher. Lift those limits by releasing the practical constraints during the dreaming process. Ambitions are based on dreams so imagine what you would do if you had no constraints and aim for that. The reality of constraints may influence how and when you achieve that dream, but it doesn’t have to keep you from that ideal vision.

Are You Relying On A Ready Excuse?

It’s easy to fall into the readiness trap. Have you caught yourself using activity-delaying phrases? They sound like, “I need a degree first” or “They won’t hire or promote me until I have more experience.” 

While some of these statements may be true, it’s important to test their accuracy. Often, they are unconscious ways of covering for a fear of making a decision or taking an action. The message you are really giving yourself is: “I’m not ready because I’m too busy making excuses” — and it’s time to change that messaging.

One strategy is to stop using humility to keep yourself small and out of sight of others. Even if you lack certain credentials or experience, you have strengths and attributes unique to you. Certainly, consider how to get credentials that are critical to your success. But, it’s also time to own those unique attributes you already have for the beauty they represent — and recognize when they really are enough. Take the time to catalog your achievements without evaluating them as good — or not good — enough. It’s time to fully recognize the ripple effect that starts with all the gifts you share with the world.

Are You Taking Incomplete Credit?

It’s common to take all the blame for things that don’t work out and assign credit to others when they do. As humans, we seek out the risk of threat first. Truly, you are already doing and accomplishing more than you recognize. 

When you stop letting that inner critic tell you how unsafe you are, you can start recognizing and celebrating your intrinsic value. That ability to achieve and succeed has been within you since the start of what IS you. It’s time to reprogram the negative message and serve who you are and what you face today — which is different from when those messages were constructed. The core of you doesn’t change – but how you respond to the world around you can.

Using these strategies, you can hear the voice and recognize it for what it is: self-exclusion. Certainly pay attention to ‘What’ needs to be done and ‘How’ you need to navigate to success. But also celebrate the ‘Who’ you are that is built to succeed in achieving your goals — even the really big ones.

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