Updated: Jan 12
Have you ever said to yourself, “That’s beyond me,” or “I could never do that”? I certainly have. If I don’t pay attention, I find myself repeating these kinds of limiting beliefs over and over.
Limiting beliefs are one of the challenges we are here on earth to experience and learn how to grow past. This short article will teach you how to identify a few of your limiting beliefs and ways to put them behind you.
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
Experts agree, limiting beliefs show up in our childhood. Young siblings recognize there are only so many toys to go around, and so sharing is a must. Toy time is limited. Parents set boundaries to protect their kids, “don’t climb the fence,” and kids learn that safety is a limitation on freedom. Teachers push kids to learn and excel. Students learn there are so many “As” to go around. Limiting beliefs show up early and tend to stick around.
Of course we must all learn to share our toys, to take prudent risks and that performance is unequal. Limits are necessary for us to live in harmony, to protect ourselves and to advance. However, when limiting beliefs become too loud, they cut off growth and restrict progress. Without conscious effort to notice them and address them, limiting beliefs often stand in the way of being our most expressive, expansive and influential selves.
What are three of your limiting beliefs?
If you are like me and most people I know, you have many limiting beliefs – too many to get started on all at once. I recommend you pick up to three. Three will give you an idea of the benefits of finding and destroying your limiting beliefs without getting stuck looking at too many.
Choose limiting beliefs that are current, simple, and under your control. You are tackling your limited beliefs, not someone else’s. The goal is to make progress on these limiting beliefs so that you can progressively choose bigger and harder ones in the future.
Here is a list of some limiting beliefs to get you started:
I can’t lose weight
I am not worthy
There is no way I can learn to (dance, program, cook, speak Spanish)
No one wants to listen to me
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Relax. What three limiting beliefs do you want to focus on? Write them down, on your notepad, on your phone or on your calendar.
How do I destroy my limiting beliefs?
1. Make space
One of the most common barriers to destroying limiting beliefs is the absence of making the space you need to do so. For example, if you believe you absolutely cannot do something difficult, double check if you have made the space you need to do so.
For example, if you are in a college course and having a hard time breaking the “A” barrier, have you made enough time to study? If you have a belief that you can’t lose weight, have you emptied the cabinets and filled them with healthy food?
Making space can also help address your limiting beliefs because when you make more space, you create more opportunities for creativity. Try giving yourself some extra physical room or additional time to contemplate your limiting belief. Often when you open up, new and helpful approaches or resources come to mind.
2. Talk to a Trusted Friend
Many of us are harder on ourselves than we are on others. Kristen Neff, author of Self Compassion, reminds us that we can’t all be above average. It’s a statistical impossibility. We’re much better off stopping the judging and the constant self-evaluation. Being kind to ourselves, the way we would be kind to a friend, is a much more productive and secure way to live.
Talking to a trusted friend about your limiting belief is a short-cut to Kristen’s method. Your friend can listen, show you compassion, and help you work through what are your real limitations and limitations you might be inflating. Good friends know how to listen and they know how to challenge you when your logic is flawed or your fears are over-sized.
3. Invest in Yourself
Getting past a limiting belief often means developing yourself in a new way. You might need lessons or training, you might need time to de-stress, or you might need a coach or an advisor.
Many of the clients who come to see me for hypnotherapy are taking the step to invest in themselves to get past a limiting belief. For example, I helped a client recently overcome her fear of driving and now, in her mid-fifties, she has her driver’s license! Another client has been struggling with self-confidence after he suffered a severe illness earlier this year. Hypnotherapy has helped him identify strengths and regain the confidence he needs to perform at work. Another client who had debilitating anxiety found her inner strength, and is back at work and supporting her family the way she wants to.
There are many ways to invest in yourself to overcome limiting beliefs. Be open to new ways you can invest in yourself to accomplish your goals.
4. Think Positively
Our brains are hard-wired to see associations positively. Spending time focusing on what you don’t want is unproductive.
Instead of focusing on the limiting or negative part of your belief, focus on what you can get yourself to believe in. For example, if you have a goal to lose weight, focus on how you can wrap your head around losing 5 pounds or 10 pounds. You can always lose 5 or 10 more after that to make your weight loss add up to a higher number.
Thinking positively will lead to acting positively, and acting positively usually makes more people want to be your friend and spend time with you. These new friends can become supporters to overcome limiting beliefs.
5. Explore More
Sometimes we have a limited view which is contributing to our belief. Here’s a funny example.
My stepkids lived in Texas and used to take an airplane to come visit me and my husband in Northern California for their school breaks, a flight of about 4 hours. They also used to fly with their Dad from Northern California to Southern California occasionally to visit their grandparents, which was only about a 90 minute flight. Because of which airlines flew which routes, and the necessities of flying the kids nonstop from Texas to Northern California, they almost always flew American Airlines from Texas to Northern California, and Southwest Airlines when flying within California.
My stepdaughter Kelly, who was about 7 at the time, announced one day she didn’t want to fly American anymore. Why? Because “American takes too long.” She didn’t realize that it was the distance the flight traveled, not the carrier that determined the length of the flight.
Exploring more often makes it easier to tackle limiting beliefs. Finding more choices, more information, and more options can make it easier to achieve your goal.
One of the reasons I asked you to identify a maximum of three limiting beliefs is because any work in this area necessitates prioritization. You cannot tackle everything at one time. It’s imperative to choose and focus.
Why? Because ultimately we have only so many resources available to us. Even if we had more money than we could count, we would still only have so much time.
Prioritizing will push you to evaluate which of your limiting beliefs you want to work on, and which you choose to shelve for another day.
We all have limiting beliefs. When they get in the way of being our best selves, it’s time to do something about it. Try out one of more of these suggestions to see if they can help you achieve your goals.