If you think you will never be good enough, then the tragedy is that you may never stretch yourself. Our belief system can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. We think we prove ourselves right time and again but have we allowed ourselves the opportunity to be proven wrong?
Limiting beliefs may sometimes disguise themselves as modesty or a lack of confidence. But they do as they say on the tin. They limit our scope for excelling. They restrict our depth of joy and achieving an expanse of happiness.
This article will discuss limiting beliefs and how they impact our lives. It will also suggest 5 ways to let go of limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
We all have limiting beliefs. These beliefs keep us small and cause us to lead a risk-averse lifestyle.
A limiting belief is an assumption about the way the world works. We treat them like facts, but in reality, they are merely opinions.
They can be about ourselves, other people, or a situation.
At one point, I told myself, “you will never be able to run a sub-40-minute 10k!” This belief is an excellent example of a limiting belief. Initially, I believed this statement. I took it as fact and didn’t strive for this goal. But this kept me in my comfort zone, so I didn’t stretch myself.
If we don’t believe we are capable of something, we don’t even try.
Now, I recognize with the proper training, nutrition, and attitude, I may well achieve a 40-minute 10k. Perhaps most importantly, I would rather try and fail than not try and never know.
Limiting beliefs are all around us. How often have we heard these sorts of comments:
- All police officers are corrupt.
- He’s out of my league.
- Car salespeople are sleazy.
- I’m too old to do X, Y, and Z.
- Nobody would want to hire me.
When we take our limited beliefs as gospel, we hold ourselves back. We remain closed off from opportunity and personal development.
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How do limiting beliefs impact our lives?
When we listen to our limiting beliefs, we live in the shadows. We may not apply for a dream job or approach an attractive stranger at the bar. We live as if our life has already passed us by. This lifestyle doesn’t sound like much fun. Then, we can become caught in a cycle of victim mentality.
We develop a “there’s no point” sort of attitude.
We often become what we believe ourselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it.Gandhi
Jordan Patterson recently made the headlines when he criticized a plus-size model and labeled her “not beautiful.” Many people will read his opinion and internalize it—rendering themselves ugly based on the say-so of an irrelevant stranger.
As a child, my twin sister regularly told me no one liked me. I believed her. To this day, I find myself having to argue against this primitive, limiting belief.
So you see, limiting beliefs have a significant impact on our lives. They can:
- Reduce our self-esteem.
- Lead to social isolation.
- Cause mental health issues.
- Create general unhappiness.
- Prevent fulfillment.
5 ways to let go of limiting belief
Now that we have established what limiting beliefs are and how they impact us, it’s time to figure out how we can let go of them.
Remember limiting beliefs will only cause you to lead a small and closed life. When we change our inner dialogues and lean into the storm a little, that's when the magic happens. That's when we break out of our comfort zones.
Here are 5 ways to let go of your limiting beliefs.
1. Identify your limiting beliefs
Before we can let go of specific limiting beliefs, we need to identify what our limiting beliefs are.
Does anything jump to mind immediately? You may want to mull this one over during the following week. Please write it down whenever you think or say something you identify as a limiting belief.
Remember, there is a difference between limiting beliefs and excuses.
My friend told me she didn’t have time to train for a marathon. The fact is, this was a mere excuse. She didn’t want to prepare for a marathon, so she made excuses.
She spends 2 hours an evening watching TV. She would have found the time if she wanted to run a marathon badly enough. And that is ok. Why do something you don’t want to do?
So while figuring out your limiting beliefs, make sure you don’t confuse them with excuses.
2. Break free from your shackles
When we believe we can, we do!
Self-belief is at the core of all our successes. Once we have identified some of our limiting beliefs, it’s time to break old patterns and behaviors.
Maybe you don’t think you are funny, so you never share your jokes with friends. Perhaps you have an ingrained belief that you are ugly, so you don’t believe you are worthy of romance and don’t approach people you find attractive.
We harbor many limiting beliefs, from our ability to secure a new job to our power to change our current life circumstances.
Give yourself the grace to believe in a world of possibility.
The psychologist and author Dr. Edith Eger got her Ph.D. when she was 51 years old! Initially, she held off from starting it as she believed there would be no point; she thought she was too old. But in time, she recognized that whether she committed to a Ph.D. or not, she would still age.
Her choice was to age alongside bettering herself, learning, and developing her career, or aging with stagnation. She went on to become an acclaimed writer and psychologist.
3. Distinguish facts from fiction
What proportion of your beliefs are fact, and what is fiction?
We adopt our limiting beliefs as facts without questioning them. We take them as our truth. But have we interrogated them?
I know when I say “no one likes me,” it is down to the cruel goadings of my sister. But it still takes a bit of work to realize this. And the truth is, some people won’t like me. Sometimes when someone doesn’t like me, it can trigger me to believe the minority represents the majority.
But it’s ok; I am not for everyone. Some people aren’t going to like me. Others will love me. This is all ok.
Check your beliefs. Are they factual? Where is the evidence of your limiting beliefs?
4. Prove yourself wrong
I love proving myself wrong. I can get all caught up with my limiting beliefs, but when I prove myself wrong, I also wake myself up.
The other day, my partner and I decided to celebrate his birthday. While figuring out what to do, we considered messaging a few of his friends and inviting them out for a meal. We dismissed this with the attitude of “they won’t want to, they won’t be able to find a babysitter.”
We then believed it would be more hassle than it was worth.
But, we silenced these limiting beliefs, put ourselves out there, and sent messages to several friends. We ended up having a great night. If we had stuck with our limiting beliefs, we wouldn’t have deepened our connections and created new memories.
Test your belief. Instead of being a fortune teller and creating a compelling but pessimistic story, put your theories to the test. You will be amazed at how often you prove yourself wrong.
5. Check your mindset
How does your mind work?
Because if we always put ourselves down and drag ourselves through the proverbial mud, it can become difficult to get unstuck. If we have the propensity to stay in a negative cycle, we are more inclined to stay in the safety of our limiting beliefs.
So it’s time to expand your mind. Practice self-kindness and recognize your true potential.
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Limiting beliefs serve to limit our happiness. Luckily it is never too late to address this belief system and overhaul our thought patterns. Next time you find yourself placing limitations on your potential, remember to practice the tips we discuss in this article.
What was your favorite tip in this article? When did you last challenge your limiting beliefs and overcome them? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!