‘Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.’
– Helen Keller
Whether you realise it or not, we each hold our own belief system. Our beliefs range from the spiritual faith all the way through to our every day understanding of the world around us. These beliefs guide us and help us make decisions.
The problem is, sometimes our belief system gets tilted off kilter. Our belief system gets influenced by outside forces without us really realising that it happens. Most of us take for granted that we have a belief system that is unique to us and our own experience.
But when we take a moment to focus on self-awareness, to notice what our belief system really is about, we might notice that it’s not always serving us in the most positive and effective way.
Today I specifically want to talk about self-limiting beliefs.
This is about the beliefs you have about yourself – who you are, what you stand for, what you are capable of, what your future might hold, where you are in life, what you have achieved, and how you shape your own lifestyle.
We need to stop taking for granted what our self-belief system is about. We need to take stock of what we really think of ourselves and our life, and weed out any of those beliefs that are holding us back.
We need to stop self-limiting beliefs.
Almost all of us have self-limiting beliefs. They are barely perceptible, but if you focus you can find them.
What are self-limiting beliefs?
Self-limiting beliefs are often rooted in fear, doubt and resistance. Self-limiting beliefs are thought patterns that hold us back from achieving, from living our fullest life, from making progress.
– A self-limiting belief prevents you from seeing opportunities
– A self-limiting belief discourages you from trying.
– A self-limiting belief is you justifying something not happening by shifting it away from yourself.
– A self-limiting belief can be a part of your ‘personality’ that you use to excuse achieving dreams or goals.
– A self-limiting belief holds you back.
– A self-limiting belief is pigeon-holing yourself by saying you do or don’t inhibit certain traits or skills.
– A self-limiting belief can be rooted in a perception of ‘how the world works’ or ‘the nature of other people’.
Where do self-limiting beliefs come from?
These self-limiting beliefs may be self-imposed, they may come from past experiences, or from others’ imposing them onto you. Your education might have limiting your belief system of yourself. Self-limiting beliefs can also come from a faulty logic, or a place of fear.
No matter where the self-limiting beliefs come from, you have the power to change them and choose your own belief system. You can choose to create your own reality rooted in your own values that serve what matters most to you.
You can choose your beliefs.
Examples of self-limiting beliefs
– I can’t sing.
– I’m a bad driver.
– I can’t run 10k because I’m not sporty.
– Everyone in my family is an accountant, it’s in my genes.
– It’s too late for me to go to uni / change career / go travelling / move somewhere new / make new friends
– I can’t get close to someone because I might get hurt
– I can’t go for this job because I’ll get rejected
– I can’t be myself or else get judged
“When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.” – Evelyn Waugh
How to change self-limiting beliefs
1. Recognise them
The first step is to identify what your self-limiting beliefs are. Try writing them down. Follow your thoughts and emotions to figure out what beliefs are behind them.
2. Acknowledge the beliefs
What is the source of this belief? Why do you think this way? What does this belief mean to you? Whom do you associate this belief with? Where did it come from?
3. Understand how the belief makes you feel
Write down all of the feelings you associate with this belief. How does it make you feel?
4. Acknowledge that this is a belief not a truth
Understand that your belief is a limitation. Do you have proof that this belief is absolutely true? Write down reasons why it is and isn’t true.
5. Explore alternative beliefs
Using your imagination, picture the alternative belief outcomes. Visualise yourself without limitations, what are you doing? What can you achieve? Who are you?
6. Take a different action
With one of the alternative beliefs, take an action as if that was what you truly believe. You will probably need to do something that is outside of your comfort zone. You need to do something without limitation, beyond what you previously imagined was possible, or who you labelled yourself as. Even a small step towards the new belief is an essential start.
7. Reinforce the new limitless beliefs
Repeat your new beliefs out loud to yourself. Get rid of the old self-limiting belief anytime it creeps back in by adopting and reinforcing the new belief. Make your new belief stronger. Give it validity.
8. Apply this new belief to your daily positive affirmations
If you believe it, so it will be.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
How to stay away from self-limiting beliefs in future
a. Don’t label yourself
Be mindful of the language you use to describe yourself. You are a human being with a vast array of capabilities and personality traits. You have the flexibility to be whatever you want to be. Use positive and affirmative language for yourself.
b. Learn from the past
Instead of dwelling on the past, try to avoid self-pity and concentrate on the lessons you can learn from each downfall, mistake or sorrow.
c. Be prepared to be uncomfortable
Nothing great was ever achieved in the comfort zone. To achieve you need a can-do attitude and positive self-belief. Sometimes you might feel so discomfort, sometimes it might be a bit new, and other times you learn as you go. This is the way to go further in life.
d. Experience yourself without limits
Prove your previous self-limiting self wrong. Do something or experience something that shows how free you are beyond those limits.
e. Recognise negative thought patterns
Meditation and mindfulness are useful practices to help you recognise negative thought patterns. Be mindful of where they are rooted, and work to replace them with new limitless beliefs. Don’t listen to the negative voices in your head, know they are there and choose to move away from.
f. Your beliefs are your reality
You have the power to forge your own reality. You don’t need to continue to belief what others have taught you, or what you have heard. You can choose what your own belief system is and use it to guide you towards your own goals and values that matter most to you.
g. If in doubt, step away
When times are crazy, hectic or our brains are fuzzy it’s best to take some time off. Switch off. Take a digital detox. Whatever it is you need to step away from the noise and root out what your own limitless beliefs are, and focus on them.
h. Stay focused
Once you’ve found your own beliefs, stay focused on them. Allow them to guide you to a positive place when times are tough. And allow them to expand and grow with you though life.
I know it’s hard to believe in yourself when it feels like so much is stacked against you. But please know you can do it.
It takes courage to tackle your own self-limiting beliefs. It takes time. It takes a bit of self-training. But stay in lane, and you will get there.
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