Self limiting beliefs are those core nagging thoughts in your head that hold you back from achieving what you are truly capable of. They typically stem from fear or feeling of lack and they can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
You see, earlier this year I decided to follow my dreams and start this blog and a Youtube Channel. I’m very passionate about the topics of living simply and intentionally so making the decision to go for it came easily for me. Then the doubts started to set in, “What if no one cares what I have to say?”, “What if I am judged?”, “I’m too fat to be on camera.”.
Recognizing how quickly my excitement was easily turned to fear, prompted me to do some research into the most common limiting beliefs and strategies for overcoming them. I want to share what I’ve learned with you in this post.
The most common limiting beliefs are:
General Limiting Beliefs about Yourself:
- I am not good enough
- I am not pretty or thin enough
- I am too old or I am too young
- I am not smart enough or don’t know enough
- I don’t have enough time
- I don’t have enough money
- No one will listen to me, or care about what I have to say
- I can’t be my real self or I’ll be judged
- I can’t ask for what I want because I may get rejected
Limiting Beliefs about Money:
- You have to work (too) hard to get money
- Rich people are greedy/evil/unhappy/etc.
- My family never had money
- Money just causes fights about money
- I am not good with money
- I am always broke
- I will never make enough money
Limiting Beliefs about Love:
- I don’t deserve to be loved
- I will never find another partner
- Love is too painful
- I will get hurt
- I am too stupid/fat/ugly to be loved
- All men/women are cheating/mean/violent/drama queens/etc.
Limiting Beliefs about Career & Business:
- The economy is bad
- I don’t have enough credentials
- I don‘t have enough experience
- I am not good at sales/marketing/with numbers/etc.
- I can’t make money doing what I love
- I don’t deserve to be successful and have everything I want
- It’s too late to pursue my dreams
- I don’t need to be successful so I’m not going to strive for success
Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
Most experts agree that our core limiting beliefs are formed when we are children. In our younger formative years we tend to accept the actions and what those around us say at face value, we believe them to be true. We are highly influenced by what we are told.
I wanted to go deeper with this which lead me to transformational coach Dunja Radosavljevic. I highly resonate with what she has to say about self limiting beliefs. She says they are actually not thoughts at all, but are in fact EMOTIONS. To me this was a revelation, but it also makes perfect sense.
She says that the essence, or root, of every self limiting belief is an overwhelming emotion that we experienced in the past. As children, because our minds are still learning to think abstractly, we don’t know how to interpret the emotion. We take in the actions or words that caused the overwhelming emotion as truth.
She believes this is why we find it so difficult to overcome a self limiting belief strictly by being aware of it and attempting to replace it with a new belief. Until the root emotion of the limiting belief is dealt with, she says it will keep resurfacing.
No amount of mindset practices or affirmations will make it completely go away.
How Limiting Beliefs Hold You Back
Limiting beliefs can be one of the biggest culprits keeping us from seeing life’s limitless possibilities and embracing the amazing creative creatures we are.
They can keep us from expressing our truth and going after our dreams. For example, they may manifest as not feeling smart enough to finish high school or go to college. For others it may keep them from pursuing a certain career for fear they are not good enough, smart enough, or for fear of how that career may be viewed by others.
Additionally, self limiting beliefs in regards to love and money can have even greater effects. They can keep you in a bad relationship or keep you from seeking out a relationship all together. They can keep you in a state of financial crisis from the fear or belief that you don’t deserve money, that you don’t have the ability to manage money, or that money is bad.
How Do You Uncover Your Limiting Beliefs?
According to the experts, we all have limiting beliefs is one area or another, and this is perfectly normal as human beings.
Reading through the list of common limiting beliefs above can help you start to recognize and identify some of the areas your own limiting beliefs reside. However, the list most likely will not uncover them all. The thing with limiting beliefs is they reside inside our subconscious mind, which is why they can seem to pop up from out of nowhere.
According to the article from Medium, one of the best tools for uncovering self limiting beliefs is the process of journaling. They recommend thinking of an idea, or something you’ve dreamed of trying and writing down your feelings and the thoughts that come into your stream-of-conscious. This process can help bring your limiting beliefs to the surface.
In a similar vein, the folks at Lifehacker suggest a three-part process.
STEP ONE: They suggest you start developing your observation skills by being more aware of the world around you. Everyone views the world through their own personal filter and our filter determines what we perceive as reality. The process of deliberate observation can help you start to identify how your personal filter works.
STEP TWO: Next they recommend that you practice your openness to new or differing information. Working on your willingness to be open to new information allows you to see the world from someone else’s perspective. Learning to see things the way someone else does can be a huge shortcut to helping you identify your limiting beliefs.
STEP THREE: The last step is they urge you to try some of the new ideas or ways of doing things that you learned about in the previous step from opening yourself up to the ways of others.
This one is very similar to the journaling idea in that they both ask you to think outside the box and try on behaviors you’re not comfortable with. Both these processes bring emotions closer to the surface where you are more easily able to identify what they are and their source.
What are the Steps for Transforming Limiting Beliefs?
STEP ONE: Doing the work described above to discover your self-limiting beliefs is the first step in transforming them. According to Psychology Today, writing your limiting beliefs down once you’ve uncovered them is key. The writing process allows you to examine and feel the emotion the limiting belief elicits.
STEP TWO: The next step they recommend is acknowledging that your limiting beliefs are just beliefs, they are not truth. There are your mind’s way of attempting to interpret a painful emotional experience by turning it into a limitation. It becomes a “I can’t do X now, because Y happened before” situation. The overwhelming emotion attached to that experience is what is driving the limiting belief.
Dunja Radosavljevic points out that emotions are energy and energy can’t be destroyed, it can only be transformed. Confronting the emotion and allowing yourself to feel it now begins the process of releasing it and transforming it into a new truth.
STEP THREE: Once you’ve allowed you yourself to feel the emotion attached to the belief, the next step it is to question the belief.
- Is this belief accurate?
- Does this belief make sense?
- Is there a time I can remember where I didn’t have this belief?
- What changed or happened to cause me to have this belief?
- How is this belief serving me now?
- How would I feel about this belief if I were someone else?
The more questions you can throw at your limiting belief the weaker it becomes because you begin to dismantle its limiting effects.
Also, consider the consequences of holding on to the belief.
STEP FOUR: The final step is to visualize the outcome of each new belief and create a vision for what it is you hold true.
From there the process is practice, practice, practice living the belief. Take action, even if only small steps at a time, to reinforce the new belief.
Make space in your life both physically and emotionally for the outcome you’ve visualized and for your new beliefs. This may involve changing your living environment to align with your new beliefs if necessary.
Overcoming self limiting beliefs takes a lot of work and it’s not just something that you do once and then all is hunky-dory. It is a process that you’ll most likely revisit again and again and as stated earlier in this post, that’s completely normal as human beings.
With every limiting belief you transform, your self confidence grows and you become more resilient and stronger.
I love this quote from Adam at IQ Matrix. He reminds us:
The beliefs that got you to where you are today won’t get you to where you want to be tomorrow. Your beliefs must, therefore, change with the times.” ~ Adam, IQ Matrix