Limiting Beliefs

What are limiting beliefs

Before we look at what limiting beliefs are, let us first look at what beliefs are.

Belief
/bɪˈliːf/
1. An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.
2. Trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something).

A belief is not necessarily something based on fact, but it is something you believe is a fact. Religion is an easy example to think of when we think of a belief. “ I believe, even though I have not seen.”  Many religions believe there are sufficient facts to back it up. 

Beliefs are thoughts and opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth. They are unconscious thoughts, you don’t even realize you have them. They determine your actions on a subconscious level. Beliefs are a state of mind, a conviction that you THINK to be true.  It could be a belief about you, your interaction with other people or with the world and how it works. Beliefs are made in a region of your brain you would not question easily. 

Typical examples are “I’m not good at math” or “I have two left feet and cannot learn to dance”.    Are they facts?  Well, you might not have been good at multiplication tables at school and then believed you are bad at maths.  Well, I was great at maths, even at university, but up to today I am poor at multiplication tables.  So we take one small aspect of a truth: “I am poor at remembering my multiplication tables” and apply it to a bigger field of maths.  Or one test result that was negative becomes a statement for life. 

Limiting
/ˈlɪmɪtɪŋ/
1. Setting or serving as a limit to something.

Limiting beliefs therefore is trust in something that exists without proof that limits you, that keeps you from certain actions.  It is beliefs that has a negative impact on your life. They tend to stop you from moving forward and stop you to grow on a personal and professional level.

They keep you from making good choices, taking new opportunities, or reaching your potential. They keep you stuck in a negative state of mind and hinder you from living the life you truly desire.

Many of these are causing blind spots in your life and because they are unconscious, your brain will only allow you to see facts that supports this belief and ignore facts that does not support this belief.  This is called Confirmation Bias. In other words, when you have limiting beliefs, you only see what you are prepared to see, nothing more, nothing less. 

Because of these beliefs, you avoid doing certain things, which puts limits on your life. These beliefs are the stories you tell yourself that make you play it safe and hold back in the face of fear.  It acts as a type of defence mechanism to avoid possible negative emotions, but it is probably causing negative results because you are not willing to even try. Look at the end of this document for typical examples.  Does any of them resonate with you?

Where they come from

Beliefs come from your past.

When you were small and something happened, you experienced a feeling or emotion relating to the incident or person, this start to build the foundation of your belief.  Many times these thoughts came from your parents, teachers or other authoritative figures.  If you were embarrassed about a drawing you did as a child, you might have started the formation of the belief that you are not creative, rather than to suffer humiliation again, you find safety in believing you cannot draw and use it as an excuse not to draw again. Your behaviour of trying is blocked by the belief.

Everyone develops beliefs from early childhood, some of which are supportive, and some of which are limiting.

If you don’t address what happened in your childhood, you might find yourself in your 50s, letting what happened when you were a child dictate your significant life choices.

Beliefs from your family, culture

Growing up, your parents likely had morals and values they tried to instill in you. These often stemmed from their own familial beliefs and ideas about how both you and the world should be. It could be things such as what career paths you should take, how to behave, and how to engage with others.

Within your family system, there are expectations of who you should be and the role you should fill. Maybe you have always been expected to care for the other members of your family. Maybe your parents always said or showed it’s not safe to stand out.

These family beliefs and expectations can impact the way you think about money, relationships, work, how happy you think you deserve to be, and more.

Beliefs from your education

Education plays a major role in forming limiting beliefs, too. Whether you’re learning from family, teachers, or friends, they all have an impact on what you adopt as truth. When you respect this authority figure, you changes to believe what they say is true, is heightened. This is because they’re both in a position of authority and constantly sharing information, ideas, and beliefs about how the world works.

Beliefs from your experiences

When you make decisions or have experiences in life, it is common for you to draw conclusions afterward. If, for example, you fall in love and it ends in heartbreak, you might conclude that love always ends in pain.

These sorts of negative experiences, in particular, can strongly shape your limiting beliefs. It’s important to remember that the conclusions you come to after bad experiences happen are

only valid temporarily.

How to identify them

The first and most important step to change a limiting belief, is to identify it.  You cannot work on something you don’t know exist.  Here are a few exercises to help you identify some.  This is a continuous journey, don’t expect to uncover them all now, allow yourself to uncover the most obvious ones, work on them and then come back to uncover more.

Fill in the blank….  You can add more than one answer in here…..  Dig as deep as you can

1. “I am not _____ enough.”

Athletic, wealthy, tall, qualified, attractive…

2. “I am a _____.”

Many of us define ourselves by our profession, which then dictates what we are and what we aren’t.

3. “I can’t_____.”

As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

4. “I have to____.”

People usually live according to their family’s or culture’s norms, values, and other potentially constraining rules.

5. “I don’t have______.”

…support, money, time, resources, knowledge, motivation

6. “__________  don’t like me.”

7. “I don’t deserve _______.”

a raise, promotion, happiness.

8. “I’ll get hurt if I _____.”

Fall in love, trust him/her,

9. “I shouldn’t take away from ____________.”

Other people, my children.

“Listen” to yourself

Keep a daily journal, for at least a week, thinking about these points. 

Listen to the voices in your head. You have to become quiet to do this.  Keep a notepad close by and write down the thoughts in your head as you are being challenged to do something out of your comfort zone.  Spend time reflecting, 5 minutes at the end of the day.  What worked today, what did not work today, what kept me from going further, what could I have done differently.

Think about what you have done during the day, have anything you have done or not done surprised you? Have you procrastinated something important?  Have you kept quiet when you should have spoken up or have you spoken out of place?

What has challenged you today? Have you over reacted to a situation?  Did you experience a feeling or emotion that was bigger than the situation warranted? 

Fears

The fears you have in life can come from a limiting belief. Sometimes it is easier to list the fear and then start exploring where the fear come from.

More questions to consider

Where is my comfort zone with money, in my relationships, and with myself? (Think about the things you know you should do, but don’t).

What beliefs about myself keep me “safe”?

What was I told I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do as a kid?

What am I subconsciously committed to being right about?

What beliefs do I share with the majority of my family and friends?

In what ways are my beliefs different than those of my family and friends?

In what areas of life am I afraid to be wrong?

What are some things about myself I’ve always thought to be true?

What are some areas of your life that you find to be stressful, but you’re not actively trying to fix?

When you think of your finances, do you feel secure?

 Is your career stable and does your income cover your life’s costs?

Are you in good health and do you take proper care of yourself and your body?

How are your relationships?

Are you making the best use of your leisure time?

When do you make up excuses?

Is there any part of your life in which you tend to procrastinate?

Is there an instance in which you usually make assumptions?

What do you complain about?

What spurs your negative thinking patterns?

Get objective input

These prompts should be able to help, but sometimes we need a little objectivity. This is where speaking to a professional, such as a coach, can be valuable. A coach will be able to ask the right questions to guide you and help you to recognize what is not obvious to you.

Examples of limiting beliefs

Limiting beliefs about Money and Abundance

There is never enough.

Everyone else gets all the good stuff.

I have to protect what I’ve got because there just isn’t enough.

Money can’t come to me easily.

Money is the root of all evil

You just can’t trust others with money.

Money is made to be spent!

We/I will never be rich.

Rich people are bad people.

Money turns people rotten.

You can’t trust someone who has a lot of money.

Money just doesn’t matter that much to me. I don’t need it!

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

If I had a better education, I could earn more money.

Limiting beliefs about relationships

I will never find love.

I always get hurt (or dumped, or betrayed).

All the good ones are taken. 

You just can’t trust anybody in a relationship.

My relationships just never work out.

I need someone in my life at all times.

I am useless on my own.

I need someone to take care of me.

Putting yourself out there only results in getting hurt.

I need to be someone else other than myself for others to like me.

There just isn’t somebody out there for me.

I have to do what my parents say or else (even as a grown-up).

 Limiting beliefs about work

It’s impossible to make money doing what you love.

It’s impossible to make money in the arts.

I have to be a starving artist to maintain my integrity.

I am not talented.

I have no special strengths.

I am not good enough.

I just don’t have enough experience.

Who would want to hire me?!

Whenever I manage things, it just turns out awful.

Everyone else gets the good jobs.

No one listens to me.

I will never find the right job.

My supervisor is never going to listen to me.

You’re not supposed to like what you do.

My co-workers don’t like me.

Limiting beliefs about self-worth

I am a failure.

I can’t make things happen.

I don’t deserve a better life. 

Things just don’t work out for me.

It’s all my parents’ fault.

People look right through me. 

That’s just my luck!!

Who am I to have everything I have ever wanted?

 Limiting beliefs about good health

My body just heals slowly.

Getting sick is unavoidable.

Everyone else in my family is overweight.

Losing weight is the biggest battle of my life.

I am helpless to heal myself.

More limiting beliefs

I’m bad with numbers.

I’m not creative.

I’ll never have enough money.

I can’t trust others.

I know I’ll fail, so why should I bother?

How to change them? This will be done in the workshop

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