The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you? – Henry Ford
Before reading this article I recommend you to read First Step: Everything Start with Your Mindset if you haven’t read it yet.
Are you asking yourself “Why do I feel stuck in life?”. This article is made for you. In this article I will explain:
- What limiting beliefs are
- How to identify your limiting beliefs
- How to overcome limiting beliefs
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
So what are limiting beliefs? Limiting beliefs are the assumptions on which we base our life. That’s why it is important to be aware of the limiting beliefs that are holding us back in our life. Our reality is the result of our beliefs. Our world is limited by what we think it’s possible. However our reality is not reality. What we think we can do and what we can actually do can be totally different. Accepting that our limiting beliefs are not the truth but are only “our truth” is the first step to let go of those limiting beliefs.
Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
Limiting beliefs are the result of what we experienced in the past, what our parents, our friends or our teachers told us, as well as what we heard in the TV, read in the newspaper and so on. Every data that our brain receives, can turn into a belief after a long period of exposure. Traumas that happened to us when we were kids might also have a deep impact on what we believe is possible or not.
Why Should You Get Rid of Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are holding you back in your life. They create a reality that is not necessarily the reality that you want. You are not necessarily aware of all the limiting beliefs that you might have but your subconscious mind will always act in accordance with those beliefs. Beliefs are simply thoughts repeated again and again over time and that you subconscious mind has accepted as true. Remember that your subconscious mind is impersonal and doesn’t care whether the information you feed it with is true or not. It will accept everything as true.
Beliefs are thoughts and thoughts determine your action. In the exact same situation, people with different beliefs will act differently, and as a result will get different results. Since your beliefs are the foundation of your life, you should make sure that the beliefs you hold are empowering you rather than limiting you.
Your subconscious mind will not only control the actions you take but will also sabotage what you are doing if it is inconsistent with its truth. For instance, you might feel that you don’t deserve to be loved, or that you are not enough and will sabotage your relation or avoid a promotion without even necessarily being aware of it. Or you might think that you don’t deserve to be happy. There are many ways we sabotage ourselves every day.
If I “know” my fate is to be unhappy, I must not allow reality to confuse me with happiness. It is not I who must adjust to reality, but reality that must adjust to me and to my “knowledge” of the way things are and are meant to be. – Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
One of the major limiting beliefs I have is “I’m not good enough”. I realize that no matter how hard I study or work, it never seems to be enough. Because I believe everything I do is never good enough, I procrastinate because “anyway, even if I work very hard it won’t be enough”, or I just give up because “I’m not good enough so I won’t succeed anyway”. One other thing I do is setting unrealistic goals or at least goals that will take months or years of hard work to succeed, and then set myself up for failure. I’m barely getting started but already said to myself that what I do sucks. I’m trying to escape instead of doing my best. I’m giving up. Probably, because if I give my very best and fail, I would discover that I’m “really not good enough”. It must be the fight and flight response. My brain has good intentions: it is trying to protect me, but it’s holding me back instead.
Here are some examples of limiting beliefs:
- I’m not good enough
- I’m not supposed to be here, I’m an impostor
- Money doesn’t grow on trees
- I’m shy, it is just who I am
- I’m fat, it is just who I am
- I can’t do this, I can’t do that
You don’t get in life what you want, you get in life what you are, what you subconsciously believe that you deserve. – Les Brown
If you don’t believe you can do something it is unlikely that you will ever be able to do it. If you think you don’t deserve something you will probably never get it. It is as simple as that. Do you belief you can become a successful entrepreneur who earns millions of dollars if you held the belief that money is evil or that rich people are lacking integrity. One of the big problems with limiting belief is that it prevents you to see opportunities and to seize these opportunities to achieve your goals. If you think that you are not good enough, you will probably not consider some options that you have because you believe it is out of your reach. On the contrary, if you believe that you deserve the best you will start to realize that you have way more options that you previously believed. You will try things that you believed you didn’t deserve before and will likely succeed. As a result, you will progressively build confidence in yourself.
Many people make a big deal about writing a book, giving a lecture, creating a business or building a website but nowadays, it is very easy for instance to write a e-book and publish it on amazon. Creating a website is way simpler than it used to be. You can always find a way to give lecture somewhere and progressively build your reputation. I’m always astonished at how some people in my family for instance are lacking the confidence to take action and do what they really want to do.
How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs?
What Are Your Limiting Beliefs?
You can’t change your thoughts if you don’t know what your thoughts are. – Louise L. Hay
Which areas of your life are you not happy about? What is holding you back? Can you identify any negative belief you have?
Write on paper your beliefs about the following things
Below are some examples of limiting beliefs
Potential limiting beliefs about money:
I want more money but
- I don’t think I deserve it
- To earn more money I need to be dishonest
- Money is very hard to make
- My friends won’t like me anymore if I earn more money
Potental limiting beliefs about women:
- I need more money to attract women
- This woman is to pretty/smart/good for me
- Only bad boys get the girls
Potential limiting beliefs about happiness:
- I will be happy when…
- I have all these shortcomings; I don’t deserve to be happy
- I hurt people in the past I don’t deserve to be happy
- I can’t allow myself to be happier than my parents/friends…
Can you find any negative beliefs? If so, see how you can turn those negative beliefs into positive beliefs and use positive affirmations to progressively let go of those negative beliefs.
Change Your Basic Assumptions
Just taking some time to fully realize that what other people can do you can do too can be an effective way to get rid of your limiting beliefs. Not so long ago I used to think that I didn’t really deserve to be happy and that I wasn’t good enough. I’m still fighting this limiting belief just as I’m writing this article, but a few months ago I had this moment when I said to myself “This is bullshit. I deserve the best that life has to offer to me. I deserve an amazing job, an amazing girlfriend, an amazing environment, an amazing life, and I’m gonna go and get what I deserve”. I had to completely get rid of those moments when I was playing the victim and take entire responsibility for my life. I changed my basic assumptions to:
– There is nothing that I cannot do (other people did it before and all had to start from somewhere). If there is something I cannot do right now, then I will fail as many times as I need until I can do it. There is nothing that cannot be learned and if we have a strong enough “why” for what we are doing, we will overcome obstacles and reach our goals.
– Money is great. I used to have some limiting beliefs about money. It might be because my friends were often from modest families and would reproach me to be richer than they were. Also, in France, I believe that people are particularly jealous of other people who earn more money than they are; people who make money tend also to be seen as dishonest. The reality is that money is neutral. It is simply a reflection of the value you are creating for the society. If you can come up with products or services which are creating great value to your customers you will earn more money. If you are making a lot of money in an honest way it’s just mean that you are creating a lot of value which is good news for the overall society. Making a lot of money should not be a goal in itself, it should be the by-product of the value you are creating for the society. Every day you should ask yourself the following questions “How can I create more value? How can I better serve people? How can I reach out to a broader audience? Having more money give you more leverage to have an impact on the world. It will allow you to create a new business or a NGO, or to give money to charity for instance.
Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
To get rid of a limiting belief you need first to challenge it by using the power of rationality. You should behave like a scientist trying to gather any evidence available to prove that the assumption you held (your limiting belief) is not true. You should question everything and become extremely skeptical. Nothing should be accepted as the truth without your consentment.
Ex: I’m shy, it is just who I am.
But wait a minute last time that girl didn’t notice I was shy. That guy said I look very confident when I gave my speech. If some people perceive me as confident, doesn’t it mean that I’m confident? What if I’m not actually shy? What if I believe that I’m shy but I’m actually not? And in this book I was reading last week, this guy was even more shy than me and now is super confident. If he can do it, there is no reason why I cannot do it.
Your present beliefs were created by thoughts plus emotions so get emotional about it. Get angry about yourself for believing such a stupid assumption, for having sold you short. Talk to yourself about how ridiculous was this belief. Write it down. You probably notice that it’s often when people think “enough is enough” that they actually start to undertake drastic changes. Try to create that kind of situation by getting emotional. It is important because if you don’t really touch the bottom you might never reach that point where enough is enough and thus you will not change.
Ask you why you can and how
If you have some limiting beliefs about something you “can’t do”. Instead of saying to yourself that you can’t do it, just imagine for a moment that you can, take a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm on how you are going to do it. Repeat this process every day and your limiting belief will gradually disappear.
Use Positive affirmations to reshape your image
Positive affirmations are sentences you repeat to yourself again and again on a regular basis in order to reach your subconscious mind and have it accept that new belief. It is very easy to do and can be a very effective tool to let go of your limiting beliefs. The first positive affirmations I tried were “I love being confident” (I’m still using it every day) and “I am independent of the good or bad opinions of others”.
How do you use positive affirmation?
- Use the present tense and not the future tense (ie. “I am” not “I will”)
- Avoid negative forms like “I’m not shy” and use instead “I’m confident”
- Repeat the sentence again and again during 5 minutes (use a timer for more convenience)
- Do it every single day without exception for at least a month, and preferably 2 months
In my case I started noticing some changes after a week or two and felt that I care less about what people thought about me. Positive affirmations might not solve the problem but will pave the way for further actions and help you build some momentum.
Use Positive visualization
Positive visualization will allow you to create imagined experience by using your imagination. Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real experience. As a result, the more you will visualize a situation, a state of mind or a goal you have, the more you will be able to reach your subconscious mind that will accept those experiences as real. Limiting beliefs are the result of experiences accumulated in the past; the more you will feed your mind and substitute those thoughts by new thoughts, the better you will be able to get rid of your limiting beliefs.
Listen to Free Self-Hypnosis Sessions/Positive Affirmations
Additionally, you will find many self-hypnosis sessions and positive affirmations on youtube. You might want to listen to them on a daily basis.
Here is what you can do to get rid of your limiting beliefs
– Identify one limiting belief that hold you back in your life – The areas of your life you are not satisfied right now are probably those in which you have serious limiting beliefs.
– Ask yourself if that limiting belief is rational. Analyze your belief objectively as if you were an external observer and look for proofs that this belief is wrong. Add deep feeling of anger and indignation: “How can I have been so stupid during all those years and let this ridiculous belief control my life?”
– Switch your thoughts from “I can’t to “I can and here is how I’m gonna do it”. Then, take a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm about how you are going to do it.
– Use positive affirmation daily for 5 minutes in order to allow your subconscious mind to accept a new empowering belief that will take the place of your old limiting belief. Most people tend to care to much about what other people think of them so try this affirmation to begin with “I’m totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others”. Tell me when you start noticing some changes.
– Use visualization daily for 5 minutes or more to create imagined experience that will make this new belief more real. (See The Power of Positive Visualization)
What about you? What are the limiting beliefs that are really holding you back in life? Please leave a comment below and share them with me.
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