Identifying and Overcoming Your Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs are precisely what their name says. They represent a state of mind you consider valid, but that falsely defines you, other people, or your relationships. In other words, a limiting belief is a conviction that inhibits or constrains you in some way.
The three most common limiting beliefs spin around feelings of:
- Trust – I don’t trust (myself, you, my abilities, our relationship, etc.)
- Inadequacy – I am not (good, smart, beautiful, skilled, etc.) enough
- Scarcity – There is no enough (time, money, love, attention, etc.)
What Causes Our Limiting Beliefs?
Most limiting beliefs stem from childhood experiences in our families and educational settings.
Parents and teachers are usually the first role-models who instill their own values and morals into children.
As we were growing up, we were introduced to various social rules, expectations, and obligations. These should not and must not often result in limiting beliefs we create and cling to.
Also, many people grew up adopting a distorted self-perception about their own worth during childhood. Internalized feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness may cause you to believe that you not good enough if you don’t meet other people’s expectations as adults.
Most limiting beliefs boil down to the feeling that we are not enough, rooting in the concepts implanted in our mindset in childhood. For example, people who struggle with feelings of guilt and shame often grew up in families in which they learned to meet their caregivers’ expectations to get attention, approval, and love. So, they typically grew up feeling unsafe, unworthy and abandoned.
The inherited biases and rules we adopted in our early years can cause us to stick to limiting beliefs as adults.
Likewise, negative experiences, such as relationship break-ups, can powerfully shape our self-perception and limiting beliefs.
The Most Common Limiting Beliefs
Here are some of the most common limiting beliefs people typically have about themselves, their health, relationships, money, or success:
- I don’t deserve happiness.
- I am not good enough.
- Nothing ever works in my favor.
- I am never going to lose weight.
- Getting older means being sick all the time.
- I will never find the right one.
- True love is hard to find.
- It is impossible to find a job I love.
- I cannot do it.
- I can’t say no to my boss/coworkers/manager.
- There is never enough money.
How Can Limiting Beliefs Impact Your Life?
Limiting beliefs typically revolve around our emotions, relationships, and goals. They often present themselves as insecurity, low self-esteem, perfectionism, procrastination, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome.
As such, limiting beliefs can have various adverse effects on your productivity, relationships, happiness, and health, keeping you from taking new opportunities, making the right decisions, and reaching your goals.
In short, limiting beliefs keep you tied in your negative thoughts, preventing you from living a fulfilling life.
For example, going through a painful break-up can trigger limiting beliefs such as, “If I love someone again, I will get hurt,” which can cause you to avoid being vulnerable and withdraw from relationships.
Similarly, a limiting belief of trust can cause you to think that you cannot be your true self or others will judge you. This limiting belief can lead you into a people-pleaser who engages in toxic relationships.
A limiting scarcity belief such as “It is too late to pursue my dreams” can hinder your chances of taking opportunities and reaching your personal and professional life goals.
How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs?
The first step in overcoming the restrictive beliefs that constrain or limit you is becoming aware of these self-restricting thoughts. Be mindful of where your limiting beliefs stem from, and ask yourself whether they are holding you back in any way.
Once aware of your restraining mindset, you can start reframing it and building new beliefs. Here are a few simple strategies to help you surmount limiting beliefs and start living the life you desire.
1. Positive Affirmations
Limiting beliefs circle around your inner critic and negative self-talk. Therefore, try feeding your subconscious mind with positive statements about yourself. These can involve anything from affirmative statements about your appearance or skills to affirmations about your job performance or the goals you want to achieve. Affirmations can help you ditch limiting beliefs and reprogram your subconscious mind for abundance and success.
Mindfulness meditation helps you stay in the present, relaxing your body and calming your mind. Regular mindfulness exercise can help you stop the negative self-talk and achieve more conscious control over your thoughts and behavior.
Moreover, mindfulness can help you acknowledge the protective role of your limiting beliefs (after all, they are a tool you use to protect yourself from something that scares you) before you let them go.
A daily habit of writing down your thoughts can help you label and clarify your feelings and beliefs.
Journal prompts (simple questions you ask yourself and then answer) can help map out your limiting beliefs and identify their core. These should clear things for you and help chuck out your limiting beliefs.
For example, by writing down, “I am incapable of…”, you are delving into your limiting beliefs, searching your mind for what’s holding you back.
4. Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is a central technique in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to overcome negative thinking patterns and limit beliefs effectively. It is based on the idea our feelings don’t result from our experiences but how we think about our experiences.
Cognitive restructuring can help you organize your thoughts and be more aware of your mental habits. This awareness is an essential step in eventually modifying and overcoming limiting beliefs.
Restructuring helps you think more clearly, encouraging you to question and examine your thinking and beliefs. By noticing your default thinking patterns, you become empowered to change them, which gives you a sense of control.
We all experience limiting beliefs. They can affect any area of our life, personal, social, and professional, hindering our chances of success and preventing us from attracting abundance. Being mindful of your thinking patterns and self-talk is key in overcoming limiting beliefs. Once you learn to recognize your restraining thoughts, you will be able to reframe your thought process and create new belief systems about yourself, other people, and your relationships.
5. Letting go of Old Stories
Often times the limiting beliefs are centered on false beliefs that were acquired either through a traumatic experience or through simply experience and messaging. These messages are internalized and a meaning is made, such as I am not enough, I am alone, I am not safe, etc.
Once these can be identified, we can ask ourselves, how are we showing up that contributes to that identitiy and belief? And how do I want to shift? Then we can identify how to change in order to live into who you actually want to be.
If you are ready to shed those limiting beliefs let’s talk. Click here to schedule a call.