by MiggieCoach

‘Our past shapes us, but it does not define us. We never truly start from zero.’ – @miggiecoach

Last year, I had the great pleasure of giving an online talk on this subject, and I received excellent positive comments. In this article, I would like to capture the main ideas from my presentation.

Many times, we tell ourselves the phrase ‘Starting from scratch,’ which can be demotivating and even counterproductive at times. Today, I can confidently say that it all depends on the perspective from which we approach it.

I remember when I accepted a new job in Houston, Texas, back in 2009. Immediately, I realized that I was very stressed since I felt in my stomach that tension. It was a new experience in a new country, a new work environment, a new daily routine, new friends, everything was new! So, since I was able to feel the stress and tension in my body, I practiced positive daily affirmations to help me overcome these negative thoughts that make me doubt myself. It helped me remember to myself all my capabilities, professional experience, and knowledge to start this new professional journey. In addition, I had my personal values and my genuine intention to do my best. And finally, I had faith and a strong determination to move forward to a better future for my family and myself.

‘Starting from scratch’ is one of the topics I address, when working on personal vision with my clients, because I think this belief is based on thoughts that limit our potential. We never really start from zero. Each new beginning brings with it learning experiences that have nourished us and helped us become the people we are today.

Alongside this common belief, there are many others that are important to recognize, such as ‘you need luck to find a job,’ ‘it’s very difficult, and I won’t be able to achieve it,’ ‘I’m too old to start,’ and similar ones. Identifying ‘the story I tell myself,’ in other words, our own narratives based on limiting beliefs, is a personal challenge to overcome. Our beliefs shape the way we perceive the world and, consequently, create our reality. Is it a reality filled with fears? Or is it a reality full of possibilities for growth? It is also important to know that limiting beliefs can prevent us from setting goals, taking risks, and achieving our full potential.

One way to train our minds is through regular introspective questioning of the story we are telling ourselves. When I accepted my job offer to move, I was already starting to doubt these negative thoughts, because I felt fear and sensed the heaviness in my body facing an illusion of difficulty moving forward, as if it were a giant mountain to climb. I was doubting myself through questions: What if I’m not good enough? What if people speak to me, and I don’t understand them? What if I don’t fit in the new job environment? All these subconscious negative thoughts triggered insecurity and fear. By becoming aware of these senses in my body, I began to remove the ‘starting from scratch’ narrative through affirmations denying these thoughts and affirmed my internal power based on past circumstances I had overcome. My affirmations started with ‘I can’ and ‘I am’, these positive affirmations were the perfect companions to enjoy my morning coffee while enjoying the Downtown Houston landscape from my office window.

We rarely question our perceptions of the world; most of the time, we take them for granted, like someone who believes they know the ocean because they’ve held a drop of seawater in their hand. Our beliefs act like lenses or filters that adapt according to the importance we give to aspects of society, such as social image, expectations (not only towards others but also towards ourselves), judgments, competitiveness, perfectionism, social acceptance, our family model, etc. These lenses or filters need to be constantly reviewed and adjusted. One of my personal strategies has been to question these patterns. When a thought begins with the words ‘never’ or ‘always’ or is based on any kind of judgment, I review it, question it, and replace it with an affirmation that helps me feel expansive rather than limited.

The power of wonder is one of the best strategies for training the mind that has served me well, and I recommend to my clients: Be an explorer, make no assumptions, and release judgments facing new experiences. The capacity for wonder is the skill that is nurtured through this practice because it grants you permission to experience surprise, admiration, and fascination with something new. It can be a source of inspiration, creativity, and gratitude, as it helps us see the world with fresh eyes and enjoy our experiences more fully. You can’t imagine how gratifying it was to have that magic when starting my new job in a new country, from being surprised by the friendly welcome of my colleagues as an international transfer, even more, when I found corn flour for “arepas” at the first supermarket I visited in my neighborhood. Therefore, it is not worth staying paralyzed with the changes that life brings; surprises are part of it.

Throughout all the changes and transitions, I have used four personal strategies that have been key and have effectively helped me avoid or mitigate the impact of limiting beliefs on my own development:

Self-awareness: I constantly observe my thoughts and pay attention to the signals from my body, because how I think affects how I feel.

Never ceasing to be amazed: Cultivating a sense of wonder is beneficial for my emotional and general well-being, as it increases joy and satisfaction in life and promotes a deeper sense of connection with the world around me.

Self-acceptance: I am a human being in constant learning and improvement. My failures do not define me; they are experiences that teach me, and transitions help me become the best version of myself.

Living with purpose: The quality of my life depends on the questions I ask myself, such as ‘What do I want to achieve in life?’ ‘How can I add value with my talents?’ ‘Am I satisfied with what I do?’ and ‘Am I investing my free time wisely?’

As Carl Jung wisely said, ‘Until the unconscious becomes conscious, the subconscious will continue to steer your life, and you will call it destiny.’ Establishing personal strategies to discern whether the narrative you’re weaving expands or constrains you is essential for empowerment during life changes and transition. I passionately recommend considering that with each new beginning, regardless of the circumstances, you are never truly starting from scratch; you bring wisdom acquired, power of choice, and, most importantly, your capacity to write your own story.”