What is a Limiting Belief? With Tips From the Experts
It’s a sad fact that from a young age we’re conditioned to act a certain way. Even if your parents steered you away from it, even if your friends were empowered, chances are, society has a way of conditioning you anyway.
We go through life doubting ourselves at the expense of our wellbeing and growth. These doubts manifest as limiting beliefs.
What is a limiting belief?
It’s in our name, it’s what we do, but what is a limiting belief?
A limiting belief is a thought you have about yourself that you believe to be true but is actually holding you back. This belief is called a belief because you believe it. The concept may be super simple, but the reality is anything but.
Let me give you an example of one of mine from when I started my journey (this is word for word what I wrote down):
“I’m an introvert so talking in front of a camera, to an audience, or on a podcast just wouldn’t work.”
This belief sounds ridiculous, right? At the time I believed this to be true – an introvert couldn’t possibly talk in front of a group of people. An introvert couldn’t even talk into a microphone.
I believed for so long that being an introvert meant I was shy, quiet, and unable to do anything that meant putting myself out there. I was told I was an introvert, so I took on that label and made it part of my belief system in myself.
You might even have the same limiting belief yourself. Limiting beliefs are barriers and boundaries we place on ourselves as reasons to not to do something.
Here’s another of mine:
“I can’t lose weight because I don’t have the motivation to do it.”
Ignore the fact that I was thinking about weight rather than health in this limiting belief. The fact is, I believed I needed the motivation to be able to achieve something.
Let’s just get one thing straight though, limiting beliefs are not excuses, they are genuine reasons you have created – probably without realising it – for not achieving something. These are not flippant, they are real.
How to identify your limiting beliefs:
Okay, so now we know what they are, I have a little task for you. This will help you identify what your limiting beliefs are so you can start breaking them.
This technique of identifying your limiting beliefs is very simple.
- Think about the things in life that you’ve always wanted to do or achieve – are there limiting beliefs stopping you from achieving them?
- Think about goals you might have set yourself and never accomplished – what limiting belief stopped you?
- Think about something you’re working on right now, is there a limiting belief slowing your progress?
- Don’t just think about work, think about life, relationships, money, health.
- What do you tell yourself daily?
Write everything you think of down on paper, on your phone, wherever – these are your limiting beliefs.
Now you know what they are, it’s time to take steps to break them.
How to break your limiting beliefs
It takes just a few minutes to change your mindset and reveal those limiting beliefs for what they actually are – not real.
If you’ve been following along, you should have a list of limiting beliefs to work with. I’d like you to pick one.
“I can’t become a woman that people look up to because there’s nothing special about me.”
The words I’ve used here are so powerful and not in a good way. ‘I can’t become a woman that…’ ‘there’s nothing special about me.’ I bet you’ve said similar things, these words may even be in some of your limiting beliefs.
The words ‘I can’t’ are particularly interesting. Imagine if you started doing all the things you said ‘I can’t’ to, what would you be doing right now?
- I can’t draw – how many artists would we miss?
- I can’t write – how many books would go unread?
- I can’t speak in front of people – how many lives would remain unchanged?
By saying ‘I can’t’, you’re depriving the world of something special, but more importantly, you’re depriving yourself of success.
It’s time to change your limiting beliefs
This is really simple. You’ve probably used words like ‘I can’t’, ‘I won’t’, or ‘I shouldn’t’. As I said, words are powerful – so change them!
To reframe your limiting belief, find the truth behind it and reshape it into something new.
- Is it actually impossible?
- Could I actually do it?
- Have people like me done it themselves?
- Am I actually that thing?
All I’m going to do is take my limiting belief and change the words. Here we go:
“I can and will become a woman that people look up to because everything about me is special.”
Now it’s your turn, flip those limiting beliefs on their head by simply changing the words you use. Your limiting beliefs are no longer limiting, you’ve now re-shaped them into beliefs. You’re in charge of your mind, only you can change how you see yourself.
“Whatever you think today becomes what you are tomorrow.” – Napolean Hill
Your next steps:
- Tell somebody who is unapologetically supportive of you
- Look at these new truth statements constantly
- Solidify your new belief by taking the smallest possible action to get the ball rolling (something that can be done in 5 minutes)
What the experts say about limiting beliefs
Career and Business Coach
Don’t read what people say introversion is. You are an individual and because of this you are not the same as everyone else. If someone says “I am an introvert, so I like to stay at home and write”. It doesn’t mean that all introverts like to stay home and write. Just like not all people like fish. Not all people like to write. Stay curious, open minded and give things a try. You will surprise yourself!
Introvert mentor and MBTI coach
Introverts are natural observers, and we’re often in our own heads. This makes observing, remembering, and thinking an excellent way for us to rewrite limiting beliefs. Think of someone you admire. What do you think they believe about themselves? What is a limiting belief you have about yourself, a “story” you’ve told yourself about what you’re capable of? Imagine a person you admire had that same limiting belief. How might they go about replacing that limiting belief with a belief, a story about how the world works, which gives them strength and courage?
Start taking control of your life, mind and values and break past those limiting beliefs. Stand in front of your own crowd of people, write that book, embrace your ability to try, fail and get back up again. I know you can do it.
Featured image by jabez Samuel
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