About a decade ago, I experienced a big setback in my life that could have either made me or broken me.
Like so many successful leaders, I’ve always been an ambitious person. Two of my dreams were building a strong family and excelling professionally. I was determined to surmount any obstacles and climb to the highest heights of success in these two areas. And, for a time, I had it all. A great husband. Beautiful babies. A thriving career at CareerBuilder.
Then, my dreams got crushed.
Struggling after a Big Loss
Before my two children were out of diapers, a heartbreaking revelation ended my marriage. I found myself in a situation that was definitely not a part of the master plan I envisioned for myself. I hadn’t intended to be a single, working mother with two small children. I’d always wanted an intact family unit. Now, here I was, forced to figure out how to build a future with a fractured family.
The experience felt like a big loss and wounded me deeply. I struggled with feelings like anger, grief, shame, and heartache. One of the biggest feelings was a crippling sense of fear. I had no idea what life was supposed to look like after this massive disappointment and loss. I had a hard time trying to navigate a path forward.
During times like this, the feelings that come up reflect our self-limiting beliefs. When times get tough, it’s very easy to doubt yourself—no matter how much you’ve accomplished. This is completely natural.
Limiting beliefs are more than just ordinary doubt. They are lies you tell yourself, and usually they come from your unconscious mind.
Disappointments, setbacks, and losses can be opportunities for us to bring these lies to the surface, examine them, and decide whether or not we want to change them.
After a Big Loss, Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs
Letting go of limiting beliefs involves two key steps.
First, you must recognize and name your self-limiting beliefs. These are untrue stories you tell yourself about the world, yourself, or others. Ask what lies you tell yourself. Ask where they came from. Did your parents give you those beliefs? Did a formative experience give you those beliefs? Did that belief come from negative thoughts or feelings related to a big disappointment or loss?
Next, you must work to release the self-limiting belief. When my marriage ended, I made a list of my losses. I decided I wanted to heal from them and let them go. So I went to a lake and gathered a number of rocks. I wrote down each loss on a rock, and then tossed them all into the lake, one by one. This act helped me let go of the losses and any self-limiting beliefs associated with them.
Find Your Path Forward
Despite my life not turning out the way I pictured, my family is whole. My kids, me, and my faith ensure my family will always be complete. I can and will continue to excel on the path I’ve chosen to take. I gathered the strength and will to continue my journey to the top by overcoming loss and letting go of self-limiting beliefs.
Without this experience, I would not have moved forward to establish my own business and experience the fulfillment of entrepreneurship. Throughout our journey, we will face storms, losses, and disappointments that will threaten to knock us off course. Those challenges may cause us to doubt ourselves. But remember, these times are an opportunity to surface your self-limiting beliefs and let go of them so you can move forward.
This year has been a time of tremendous suffering and loss for so many people. But I’m here to tell you there is always a path forward. It may involve some temporary suffering and a lot of uncertainty. But I found my way forward eventually, and so can you.
Want to learn more about improving your mindset for greater success in sales and life? Get your copy of my book, Journey to the Top: How to Reach Your Peak Performance Life.