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 addressing limiting beliefs, I recommend you to read First Step: Everything Start with Your Mindset if you haven’t read it yet.
Have you ever wondered why you feel stuck in life? If you answered “yes” to this question, this article will help you understand why. In this article we’ll discuss the following points:
- What limiting beliefs are
- Identifying your limiting beliefs
- Overcoming limiting beliefs
So, are you ready to overcome your limitations?
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
In a nutshell, limiting beliefs are false assumptions you hold about reality. These assumptions are deeply ingrained in your mind and determine most of your behaviors and actions. They determine the way you see reality. More than that, they ARE your reality.
However, your “reality” doesn’t even come close to what reality is. What you believe you can do and what you can actually do are two different things.
Would you drive a Ferrari with the brake on? Well, that’s what you’ve been doing your entire life! That’s because your reality doesn’t reflect reality. It has been tainted by far too many limiting beliefs.
Accepting that your limiting beliefs aren’t reality, but simply your reality, is the first step towards overcoming your limitations.
Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
Limiting beliefs are the result of your past experiences. They are what your parents, your friends or your teachers told us, what you heard on TV or what you read in the newspaper. Virtually any information that your brain registers can turn into beliefs after repeated exposure. Past traumas, especially early on, can also seriously affect your vision of the world and, eventually, what you think is possible for you.
Why Should You Get Rid of Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are holding you back. They create a version of reality that is not the reality you want to believe in order to create the life of your dream. You may not be aware of the vast array of limiting beliefs that you’re currently holding on to. Regardless, your subconscious mind will always act according to these beliefs.
Beliefs are simply thoughts that you have unconsciously accepted as true, and entertained so many times that they’ve penetrated your subconscious mind. Remember that your subconscious mind is impersonal and will accept everything you feed it with as being true.
The thoughts you’re acting upon arise within the context of a particular belief system that is unique to you. That’s why, in similar situations, other people will act differently, and get different results than you would. Since your beliefs determine the course of your actions, it is critical that you work on developing empowering beliefs that will support you in achieving your goals in each area of your life.
Your subconscious mind not only controls the actions you take, but also sabotage your efforts when they’re inconsistent with what it has being programmed to accept as true.
For instance, if you subconsciously believe that you aren’t worthy of love, then, your subconscious mind will sabotage your relationships, often, in ways that you aren’t even aware of.
If you believe you aren’t good enough, your subconscious mind will prevent you from getting that promotion you’ve been waiting for so long.
Or maybe, you believe that you don’t deserve to be happy. Sure enough, that will become your reality too.
As Nathaniel Branden wrote in his book “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”, “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.”
One of the major limiting beliefs that is holding me back is, “I’m not good enough”. No matter how hard I study or work, for some reason, it never seems to be enough.
Believing I’m not good enough often leads me to procrastinate. No matter how hard I work, it won’t be enough anyway. It may also lead me to give up, not believing that I can’t succeed.
Another thing I tend to do is to set unrealistic goals that I can then use to validate the belief that I’m not good enough. I would either set unrealistic goals, or unrealistic timeframes to ensure I set myself for failure.
I guess I’m scared of setting realistic goals for fear of discovering that I’m “actually” not good enough if I fail to achieve them. At least, for now, I can always blame procrastination and fear and, even better, my limiting beliefs to justify my lack of results.
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’ll be able to do it. If you think you don’t deserve something you’ll probably never get it. It is as simple as that.
How likely are you to become a successful entrepreneur who earns millions of dollars if you believe that money is evil or that rich people are lacking integrity?
The major problem with limiting beliefs is that they prevent you from seeing opportunities and seizing them to achieve your goals. If you believe you aren’t good enough, you won’t even consider certain options because they seem so out of reach.
However, if you can overcome your limitations and believe that you deserve the best, you’ll open the door to many options you hadn’t previously thought of. You’ll try things that you believed you didn’t deserve before, and, as a result, you’ll significantly increase your chances of success.
Many people make a big deal about writing a book, building a website or creating a business for instance. However, nowadays, self-publishing has never been easier, anybody can create a website in just a few minutes, and creating a business is not as challenging as it used to be and can sometimes be done with very little money upfront.
I’m always astonished to see how so many people lack the confidence to take the first step towards their goals and start doing what they really want to do. In fact, many people will never take that first step!
For example, many of my family members have way more potential than they give themselves credit for, but they never took action towards their dreams because of their fears and limiting beliefs. If only they could commit to overcome their limitations!
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
What are areas of your life in which you’re unhappy? What is holding you back? Can you identify any negative belief you have?
Take a piece of paper and write down your beliefs about the following things:
Below are some examples of common limiting beliefs:
I want more money but:
- I don’t think I deserve it
- I need to be dishonest to earn more money
- Money is very hard to make
- My friends won’t like me anymore if I earn more money
- I need more money to attract women
- This woman is too pretty/smart/good for me
- Only bad boys get the girls and nice guys finish last
- I will be happy when (fill the blank)
- I don’t deserve to be happy because (fill the blank)
- I don’t deserve to be happy because I hurt people in the past
- I can’t allow myself to be happier than my parents/friends
Can you relate to any of these negative beliefs?
How could you turn your negative beliefs into more empowering ones and overcome your limitations? It’s what we’ll discuss in the next section.
Change Your Basic Assumptions
Taking some time to realize that, what other people can do you can do too, can be an effective way to overcome your limitations. Not so long ago I used to think that I didn’t deserve to be happy and that I wasn’t good enough. And, as I’m writing this article, I’m still struggling with these limiting beliefs.
However, 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: a great job, an amazing girlfriend, an incredible life, and I’m gonna go get these things”. I realized I had to stop playing the victim and take entire responsibility for my life. I, then, changed my basic assumptions to:
- There is nothing I cannot do. I’ll try and fail as many times as needed until I succeed at whatever I want to do.
- There is nothing I cannot learn. With a strong enough “why”, I can overcome any obstacles that stand between me and my goal.
- Money is great. My friends were often from modest families and would sometimes reproach me to be richer than they were. I’m not going to take it anymore! In France, people are particularly jealous of other people who earn more money than they do; wealthy people tend 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 make a lot of money in an honest way it’s just mean that you are creating a lot of value. Making a lot of money should not be a goal in itself, but the by-product of the value you are creating for the society. Every day you can ask yourself, “How can I create more value? How can I better serve people? How can I reach out to a broader audience?”
Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
To overcome your limitations, first, you need to challenge your limiting beliefs 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 consent.
Ex: I’m shy, it is just who I am.
Challenging your limiting belief would look a little bit like this:
“But, wait a minute. Last time that girl didn’t notice I was shy. And 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, but became extremely confident. If he can do it, I can do it too.”
Get emotional about it
Your current beliefs were created by thoughts plus emotions so get emotional about it. Get angry with yourself for believing such a stupid assumption and for selling you short. You have the perfect right to get pissed off! You know you can do more. You know you can overcome these limitations!
Sometimes you need to say “enough is enough!”. So get emotional with your limiting beliefs. Enough! Because you often need to touch the bottom, or decide that you’ve touched the bottom to finally commit to overcome your limitations and change your life.
Aren’t you pissed off? You should! You’ve been limiting yourself in so many ways just because of a belief you hold. It’s now time to take control of your beliefs and overcome your limitations.
Ask you why you can and how you’ll do it
Instead of saying to yourself that you can’t do something, just imagine for a moment that you can. Then, 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 beliefs 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 until your subconscious mind accept new empowering beliefs as true. It is easy to do and can be a very effective tool to overcome your limitations. 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 to use positive affirmations:
- Use the present 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
- Visualize yourself in a specific situation related to your affirmations and get emotional (experience confidence, happiness etc.)
In my case, I started noticing some changes after a week or two. I felt like I cared less what people thought of me. Positive affirmations might not solve all your problems, but they’ll pave the way for further actions and help you build some momentum as your working on overcoming your limitations.
Use positive visualization
Positive visualization allows you to create imagined experience by using the power of your imagination. In fact, your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real experience. Thus, the more you visualize a situation, a state of mind or a goal you want to achieve, the more your subconscious mind will accept these experiences as real.
Limiting beliefs come from your past experiences. As you feed your mind with new empowering thoughts, you’ll be able to replace your old beliefs with new empowering ones and overcome your limitations.
Listen to Free Self-Hypnosis Sessions/Positive Affirmations
Additionally, you can find many self-hypnosis sessions and positive affirmations on Youtube. You might want to listen to them on a daily basis. They will also help you overcome some of your limitations.
Here is what you can do to overcome your limitations
– Identify one limiting belief that is holding you back – You might want to look at areas of your life you are not satisfied with.
– 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 these 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 going to do it”. Then, take a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm on how you are going to do it.
– Repeat positive affirmations for 5 minutes daily to help your subconscious mind accept your new empowering belief and allow it to replace your old limiting belief. Most people tend to care too much 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 if you notice some changes.
– Practice visualization for 5 minutes daily 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 holding you back and preventing you from living the life you want? Please leave a comment below and share them with me.
Remember that you can overcome any limitations.
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