One of the best self-improvement lessons that I have learned in the past decade is understanding that I (and probably you too) have limiting beliefs that cause me to self-sabotage. Let me explain.
Have you ever felt really happy or excited about something like a job promotion or a new idea that just popped into your mind or even a five dollar bill you found randomly in your back pocket, only to suddenly find yourself (only moments later) experiencing a series of unpleasant thoughts that quickly sucked all the joy out of your situation?
We’ve all had this happen, but until a few years ago, I had no clue why it was happening or how to tackle this problem.
Then, I read a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. In the book, the author defines what he calls the Upper Limit.
The Upper Limit is this unseen threshold that we hit when we start thinking that things are going “too good to be true”.
Your Upper Limit is the point at which your mind decides, “okay, that’s enough positive energy for the day…you can’t possibly be this happy,” and the limiting beliefs start creeping in.
Everyone encounters limiting beliefs at some point in their lives. These beliefs are thoughts or states of mind that you believe are absolute truths and can prevent you from reaching your full potential. It’s essential to understand what limiting beliefs are and how they can impact your life, so you can actively identify and overcome them.
Limiting beliefs can be about yourself, your interactions with other people, or your perspective on how the world works. They often hold you back from pursuing goals, embracing new experiences, or developing a more positive outlook.
By exploring where these beliefs come from and questioning their validity, you can begin to break free from their constraints and create a more fulfilling life experience. As you learn more about limiting beliefs, you’ll become empowered to make the necessary changes to transform your life for the better.
Understanding Limiting Beliefs
Beliefs are the assumptions and convictions you hold about yourself, others, and the world around you. They create the lens through which you perceive and interpret your experiences. Some beliefs empower you, while others can hold you back.
Negative thoughts are the self-defeating inner dialogue that often accompanies limiting beliefs. These thoughts reinforce the idea that you’re not capable, worthy, or deserving of success. By becoming aware of your negative thoughts, you can challenge and change them, allowing you to develop a more positive outlook.
Self-limiting beliefs are the beliefs that restrict your growth, success, and fulfillment in life. They can be deeply rooted in past experiences, cultural norms, or even the opinions of others. Limiting beliefs make you doubt your abilities, keep you in your comfort zone, and prevent you from reaching your full potential. Identifying and overcoming these beliefs is crucial for personal growth and success.
Common Limiting Beliefs
By this point, your brain is probably already thinking about the limiting beliefs that you are experiencing. Let’s talk through some examples of common limiting beliefs:
- I’m not good enough: This belief makes you doubt your worth and prevents you from pursuing opportunities, relationships, and experiences.
- I can’t handle failure: Many people believe that they can’t cope with failure, which often leads to procrastination and avoidance.
- I don’t have what it takes: This belief makes you underestimate your skills and abilities, hindering your progress and personal growth.
- Success is for other people, not me: With this belief, you might think that others are more deserving or better equipped to achieve success, causing you to hold back on your dreams and aspirations.
To overcome limiting beliefs, you must first recognize and identify them. Next, challenge these beliefs and replace them with more empowering thoughts. Take your time, practice self-compassion, and be patient with yourself as you work to transform your beliefs and open the door to new possibilities.
Causes of Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs can originate from your childhood experiences. As a child, you might have been discouraged from pursuing certain goals or dreams, leading you to believe that you were not capable of achieving them.
An example of this from my own life is the limiting belief I held as a young girl that I could not become a writer and make a good living. In part, this was because I wasn’t exposed to very many black or brown skin writers. But also, because I grew up with baby boomer parents who pushed education immediately followed by finding a well-paid corporate job. Becoming a “struggling” writer was not highly looked upon.
These types of influences can create a sense of inferiority that persists into adulthood.
Your past experiences can also contribute to the development of limiting beliefs. Situations where you faced rejection, failure, or disappointment can shape your perceptions about yourself and your abilities.
You might start to believe that you are not good enough or that you cannot succeed in certain areas of life. For instance, if you struggled in a particular job in the past, you might develop a limiting belief that you are not skilled enough for that type of work.
Overcoming these beliefs requires recognizing them and reframing your focus on what you can improve in the future.
Family values and beliefs play a significant role in the formation of limiting beliefs. Your parents and relatives may have instilled certain values and beliefs in you, even unconsciously, that influence your perception of yourself and the world around you.
I’ll use my husband as an example. As a child, he was very, very talkative, curious, and as some family members would call him–nosey. Some of the adults in his family would call him “Wednesday” because according to them, he was always getting in the middle of things (get the joke?).
Because of this, he learned to quiet himself and ask less questions as a child. Many years later, during a conversation we were having about limiting beliefs, he realized that this past experience was affecting him in his career. He would sometimes quiet his opinion to keep from stirring the pot and being perceived as a “know it all”. This is a barrier that he has had to work hard to overcome.
These types of beliefs are deeply rooted and can be challenging to recognize and change. However, through self-reflection and understanding, you can work to overcome limiting beliefs stemming from family influences.
Life experiences shape your limiting beliefs as well. For example, if you often face failures in your career or personal life, you may start to believe that you don’t deserve success or happiness. These beliefs can hold you back, sabotaging your growth and potential.
To change your limiting beliefs, it’s essential to acknowledge and challenge them. By doing so, you’ll develop a more positive and empowering mindset that can help you achieve your goals.
By understanding where your limiting beliefs originate from, you can actively work to transform them, enabling you to live a more fulfilling and successful life.
Identifying and Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
Identify Limiting Beliefs
In order to identify your limiting beliefs, start by writing down your general beliefs about aspects of your life that you feel strongly about and that influence your daily life. Group them into different categories like finances, family, relationships, or health. Reflect on these beliefs and notice if they are holding you back in any way.
Challenge and Reframe
Once you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, challenge and reframe them. Ask yourself whether these beliefs are truly accurate or if they are based on negative past experiences, fear, or other factors. Instead of accepting your limiting beliefs, try to develop a more empowering mindset. This can be done by:
- Using affirmations to remind yourself of your potential
- Seeking out positive role models and surrounding yourself with supportive people
- Setting achievable goals to build confidence
Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling to overcome your limiting beliefs on your own or need additional guidance, consider seeking help from a professional, such as a life coach or therapist. They can provide expert advice and personalized strategies for addressing and overcoming your limiting beliefs.
Techniques for Removing Limiting Beliefs
There are various techniques you can use to remove limiting beliefs, which include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This approach helps you become more self-aware of your thoughts and behaviors, identifying any patterns that contribute to your limiting beliefs. With a therapist, you can work on changing negative thought patterns and developing healthier behaviors.
- Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you gain a greater sense of self-awareness, allowing you to identify and address limiting beliefs more effectively.
- Journaling: Regularly writing down your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs can provide valuable insights into your limiting beliefs and help you track your progress as you work on overcoming them.
By using these techniques, you can gradually start to reframe your limiting beliefs and move towards a more positive and empowered mindset.
Impact on Personal Growth
A significant aspect of personal growth is your mindset. Limiting beliefs can negatively affect the way you perceive yourself and the world around you. They can create a fixed mindset that holds you back from embracing new challenges, learning from your experiences, and ultimately reaching your full potential.
To foster personal growth, it’s essential to recognize and change these limiting beliefs, turning them into empowering ones, and adopting a growth mindset.
Potential and Achievement
Limiting beliefs can severely hinder your ability to reach your full potential and achieve your goals. When you believe you’re incapable, unworthy, or undeserving, these beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies, preventing you from taking necessary steps towards success.
To unlock your potential, it’s crucial to identify and challenge these beliefs, replacing them with more adaptive and positive ones that support your personal growth journey.
Confidence and Self-Improvement
Your confidence and self-improvement are also heavily influenced by limiting beliefs. Low self-esteem, self-doubt, and an overall negative self-image can result from negative thoughts about your abilities and worth. Recognizing and combating these limiting beliefs is vital to building your confidence and engaging in continuous self-improvement.
By addressing the restricting effects of limiting beliefs on your mindset, potential, confidence, and self-improvement, you’ll be better equipped to experience meaningful personal growth. Remember to remain open-minded, challenge negative thoughts, and embrace the power of positive thinking to create a path towards a more fulfilling life.
Examples of Limiting Beliefs
In this section, we will explore more examples of limiting beliefs in various areas of your life. Recognizing these beliefs is the first step towards overcoming them and achieving your full potential.
Money and Wealth
Limiting beliefs can have a significant impact on your relationship with money and wealth. Some common examples include:
- You may believe that rich people are greedy or unethical
- You may think you don’t deserve financial success
- You may worry that if you become wealthy, your friends and family will change their opinion of you or become jealous
Here are some practical tips to challenge these limiting beliefs:
- Remind yourself that there are many wealthy people who are generous and ethical
- Recognize your value and self-worth, and realize that you deserve abundance
- Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who celebrate your successes
Health and Fitness
Your beliefs can also affect your physical well-being. Some limiting beliefs in health and fitness might include:
- You may think you’re too old to start exercising
- You may believe you don’t have enough time to prioritize your health
- You may assume that you’ll never reach your fitness goals due to past failures
To overcome these beliefs, try:
- Seeking out inspirational stories of people who began their fitness journeys later in life
- Creating a schedule that includes dedicated time for exercise
- Acknowledging past setbacks but focusing on current efforts and progress
Relationships and Love
Limiting beliefs can hinder the growth and quality of your romantic and personal relationships. Some examples are:
- You may feel unlovable or unworthy of love
- You may think that all relationships eventually fail
- You may worry that you’ll be abandoned if you become too vulnerable
To work on overcoming these beliefs, consider:
- Practicing self-love and self-acceptance
- Remind yourself that every relationship is unique and can have its own trajectory
- Strengthen trust-building skills, like open communication and understanding
Career and Education
Finally, limiting beliefs can also impact your career and educational aspirations. A few common examples include:
- You may believe it’s too late to change careers or pursue higher education
- You may feel that you’re not intelligent or skilled enough to succeed
- You may think that success only comes to a select few, and you’re not one of them
To combat these beliefs in your career and education, try:
- Researching successful career changes and educational achievements at various ages
- Focusing on your strengths and seeking opportunities to grow by learning new skills
- Surrounding yourself with success stories and positive role models
By recognizing and challenging your limiting beliefs in these areas of life, you can work towards overcoming them and achieving the success and fulfillment you desire.
Next Steps to Conquer Limiting Thoughts
Limiting beliefs can be challenging to navigate through as they have a considerable impact on your thoughts and actions. By understanding their nature and origin, you can take steps to overcome them and unlock your full potential.
My hope is that this article has inspired you to try to identify your limiting beliefs. Remember, the first step is reflecting on experiences that have held you back in some way. Keep in mind that these thoughts might not only pertain to yourself but also to the world around you or others’ actions.
Once you have identified these beliefs, it’s essential to challenge and reframe them. Adopt an open mindset and explore alternative viewpoints or evidence that contradicts your limiting belief. This process can help you shed irrational thoughts and form healthier perspectives.
Something that has worked well for me to ensure long-term success in overcoming limiting beliefs is incorporating new habits or routines that continuously challenge unhelpful thought patterns. Engaging in self-improvement activities and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals has also been instrumental in my journey and I encourage you to try it too!
Remember, growth and change might be uncomfortable at times, but with perseverance and a willingness to confront your limiting beliefs, you’ll unlock the potential you’ve always had within you.