We all have limiting beliefs but are you aware of them and the impact they have on you?
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are thoughts that constrain us in one way or another. For example, every time you think something is not possible or is too complicated or is something you could never have is a limiting belief. As you can imagine, these beliefs are not going to help you to get things done or even try and achieve.
Where do they come from?
We are born without limiting beliefs. When we are born we are, even if only for a brief period, a blank sheet. When we are little we dream big. We want to travel the stars or even become stars. As we grow up our experiences start forming our beliefs. Our beliefs are what will become the construct of our reality. What you think is true, will be true for you, even if it is not.
Our beliefs can serve as a mechanism to protect us and prevent us from making the same mistakes.
Some limiting beliefs I think a lot of people may have:
- I am not good enough
- I don’t deserve it
- I will probably fail
- What can I do about it? That’s just how it is
How do you get rid of them?
Now that we have identified what limiting beliefs are and how they can be a huge influence in your life we can start to get rid of them. It is important to understand that some of our limiting beliefs may have been confirmed and reaffirmed many times in our lives, and therefore have become bigger truths for us and may take longer to erase. If for example, you failed at various businesses, you may believe you will never be able to run a successful business.
Here are some steps you can take to start erasing these beliefs:
- Identify and write down your limiting beliefs – Write down any limiting beliefs you can identify in yourself. Continue to add to the list every time you find yourself confronted with a limiting belief. This may be the most important step of all. Without understanding your thoughts there is nothing you can do to start to change them.
- Stop defining yourself based on your limiting beliefs – As mentioned above, your beliefs form the construct of your reality, they define who you think you are. This is most often NOT who you really are. So stop identifying yourself based on your limiting beliefs. If you did step 1 you now know which beliefs we are talking about here.
- Break you limiting beliefs – You can start erasing your beliefs by proving them wrong. Once you understand your limiting beliefs find ways to show yourself they are based on incorrect assumptions. Start small, set yourself up to win, and then rinse and repeat. Which each success, even small ones, you are teaching yourself that you CAN do it, until this becomes your new truth.
- Use frustration to your advantage – A large source of limiting beliefs comes from our frustrations. Every time you get frustrated you create a new limiting belief or reaffirm an existing one. Whenever you feel frustrated use be conscious of it so you can prevent it from turning into or strengthing your limiting beliefs. For example, if you failed at something think about if you really gave your 100%, what would you do differently next time? Did you learn from the experience and become better prepared for the next time? This will prevent a limiting belief from getting created and instead make you look for an opportunity to do better next time.
Some examples of how I overcame my limiting beliefs
- I don’t like finance and know nothing about it – I always believed this to be true. I had no financial talent and would never be able to understand it. It was also just too complicated. I started by defining why it was very important for me to understand finances, or at least understand my own finances. This motivated me to investigate and learn more. The more I learned about it the more I became fascinated by it. Now I consider myself an active investor and believe that if I want to, I could become a full-time options trader at some point in the future.
- I am not fit for sports – I played field hockey when I was younger. The macho culture in my team and even bullying by one of my teammates made me lose interest but also left me with the belief I was not good at any sport. Even though I was a good swimmer and ice skater. I believed any effort at sports would simply result in more bullying so I never did any more sports for a long time. I started to break this belief by forcing myself into situations that proved this belief wrong. I still believe I am not meant to be an athlete but I can now enjoy sports and have even entered into sporting events, not to win, but to participate and enjoy it. I continue to prove my belief wrong little by little.
- I cannot run and running is no fun – In middle school we had to run 4 miles during physical education. I had several occasions where my knee hurt so much I could not continue. I was reprimanded for not finishing on time and have never run again until recently. I decided I needed to work on my condition and went for walks as I believed I could not jog or run. At one point I decided to try and jog a little to see how it went. To my surprise, I had no pain and I lasted longer than I expected. I could not believe it when I first ran 500m without dropping to the floor. That was the moment the belief was broken. I was able to build up my runs to 5K and now believe I can run and I can even enjoy it.
- Everybody looks at me all the time – For a long period in my life, I had the belief people were always watching and judging me. This put an enormous pressure on me which at times led me to completely “lock up”. I remember moments where I could not even move my head from side to side because I was so tense. It took me a long time to erase this belief showing myself the belief was wrong and was mostly based on my own behavior of always judging people and assuming they all did the same.
- Asking for help is a bother to the other person – I have always wanted to do everything myself because I believed asking for help means having to bother someone. I help others that ask me for help though and have never thought they were bothering me or trying to take advantage of me. My belief was broken however when I heard someone say: “If I like to help others, others may also like to help me, so by not letting others help me I am taking away their opportunity.”. This changed everything. I now believe I can ask people for help.
- I am not good enough to become a programmer – I have always been passionate about computers. When I was in middle school though I had friends that knew much more about them than I did and I created the belief that this meant I did not have what it took to pursue a career in computer programming. This limiting belief led me to decide on a different career and not follow my heart. At one point I started to learn coding in my free time and found that it was something I was still passionate about and also WAS good at.