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What Holds You Back From Achieving?

Is it intelligence, natural ability, the quality of teaching?

Sometimes, no doubt, these factors come in to play and there are physical and psychological factors which play a part. However, for the majority of us, what is even more important can be our own self-belief and our own automatic negative thoughts.

Take, for example, that person you remember who was always very able at school or who everyone knew to be a ‘clever’ student, a wealth of information and knowledge and yet when it came to exams, the results they achieved were never quite what was expected; or the student who didn’t find learning easy and the pressure of tests simply exacerbated their experience. The disappointment of results leads to disenfranchisement with the education system.

So what makes the difference? The stress, the pressure, the THOUGHT.

Through working with students, I have seen so many students whose thoughts dictate the success they experience – for the advantage or disadvantage of their results. That little negative voice we have in our heads can become very noisy at times of stress, this causes panic and then our primitive brain kicks in, releasing unhelpful hormones and shouting very loudly. Once this part of our brain is engaged, it is very very difficult for our more advanced, logical brain to function and all we hear is the shouting voice which all too often is sabotaging.

This isn’t exclusive to young people as we carry these thoughts with us to adulthood and we generalise them to any situation in which we feel the same physical feelings – exams, presentations, performance, expressing an opinion in public, at work etc. Our brains enjoy a habit regardless of what it is.

So, what can we do?

To begin with, we acknowledge and become aware; our bodies give us the first clues and as soon as we are aware we can begin to challenge the automatic thoughts.

We can use techniques such a mindfulness, counting breaths, focussing on one point around us in order to calm the nervous system and thus allow our logical brains to think again.

Finally, when the crisis point has passed, it is a good idea to have some form of cognitive behavioural coaching or the like in order to make a more profound change and kiss those unhelpful patterns goodbye once and for all.