Most of our limiting beliefs were created in childhood. A belief is something that you consider to be a fact or is true.
Beliefs tend to serve as your unconscious autopilot for how you navigate your world. And can be passed down through the generations by family members.
A classic example of this is substance use. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be seen throughout multiple generations, and it becomes one of many family beliefs of “this is just what we do.”
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Every one of us has the opportunity to break these generational negative beliefs if we’re willing to put in the work to break them.
How beliefs are formed. When you enter this world, you are born with a fairly blank slate. You’re born impressionable and are easily influenced by others and the world around you.
For example, do you remember being told about Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy?
While most of us no longer believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, those beliefs did influence your behaviors and how you viewed yourself and the world.
When you accept a belief as a fact.
The belief is stored in your subconscious mind. It’s stored there for later reference checking. Meaning this belief that is believed to be fact will influence your actions and responses to situations.
It’s that feeling of certainty you get because it is the story that you have been telling yourself all of your life. And because it is your story, you most likely (subconsciously) have been finding proof to support that story.
And you will find plenty of proof when you are looking for it. The more proof you find, the more you believe that your belief is true, also known as a core belief.
This can be true for empowering beliefs if your beliefs have this much power. Can you imagine how much potential you could tap into if you were not limited by your limiting beliefs? How might your life experience change if you empowered yourself to take chances? What about intimate relationships?
You have the power of choice, and it is an amazing gift to have. You have the power to choose what you want to believe in and the positive thoughts that can empower you to live a life that isn’t mediocre. And you also have the choice to believe in the negative thoughts that disempower you.
The first step is to realize that thoughts are not truths and they’re not real. They are simply just the stories that you tell yourself about why you’re feeling a certain way.
Or why you think something happened to you as you think about your day or your life. Once you become aware of the story that you are telling yourself at that moment, you have the power to edit it. You can change your story from disempowering to empowering as well as your limiting beliefs to positive beliefs.
Here are 9 of the most common limiting beliefs.
And some practical tips to help you become aware of them and assist you in moving past them. Even if you were just to implement one of these, it could have a deeply profoundly positive impact on your life.
1. I Don’t Have Time Right Now – One Day, I’ll Do It.
This limiting belief keeps you in your comfort zone. This easily translates into you never finding the time to get out of your comfort zone. When you say, “one day I will do it,” it creates an illusion. This is your brain trying to comfort you that your present life is enough. And that “one day,” things will be better, and then you will have time.
Holding onto this limiting belief can keep you stuck for years. But, unfortunately, it can also lead to limiting belief #9.
Pay attention to how you are using your time and be truthful with yourself about what you find. For example, how much time are you spending on pointless tasks? Like social media or Pinterest? Do you need to be spending hours each day scrolling aimlessly on your phone or watching TV? Or are you spending a ton of time doing things for other people, and it’s eating away at your time?
Are you engaging in patterns and getting into your own way? Try making some tweaks in your own behavior and see if you suddenly find that you have time.
Now let’s talk about your confidence in yourself – onto limiting belief #2!
2. Fear of Success OR Greatness.
It seems kind of odd that we can have a limiting belief around greatness or success. It stems from the fear of “what if I am great or successful?” Do I have the ability to sustain it? When this limiting belief happens, we tend to default towards mediocrity because it feels safer.
This limiting belief is self-sabotaging and destroys your confidence in yourself. Sometimes this can stem from the fear of “being found out” that you are an imposter and don’t know what you are doing. That perhaps you just “got lucky” and don’t know how to recreate that same “luck” again. There are a number of cognitive distortions that can be found around the fear of success or greatness.
Then there is also the fear of additional responsibility. Choosing to be successful is a big responsibility and not a bad thing. But most of us try and avoid this in our lives. Suppose your fear of greatness or success stems from being afraid that you’re not smart enough to sustain it. Then do what a successful entrepreneur would do and hire people smarter than you. That is exactly what successful people tend to do. They hire people smarter than themselves to help keep them great or successful.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you need to find a different room”? Sometimes, being the smartest person in the room isn’t always a good thing. So, come up with a plan. For example, “In order to be great or successful, these are the following professionals I need in my life….” And then go forth and take your next step.
3. I Can’t Because I Am Not…
Insert limiting belief statement here. For most people, these are actually self-worth statements. I can’t because I am not… good enough, smart enough, talented enough, thin enough, creative enough, pretty/handsome enough, witty enough, worthy enough, etc.
If you are using self-critical and self-limiting beliefs to describe yourself. Then odds are you are probably sabotaging yourself at the very least on a subconscious level. On the other hand, if you are aware of these self-critical and self-limiting beliefs, then you’re sabotaging yourself on a conscious level.
All this does is weaken your sense of self-worth. And hold you back from taking advantage of possible experiences, opportunities, or relationships.
Suppose you didn’t have these negative self-worth beliefs running through your head. What experiences, opportunities, or relationships might you have gone after? And if you were not to let them continue to dictate your experiences, opportunities, or relationships moving forward, what might you become if you had different beliefs?
What if you were to negotiate with that little voice that whispers, “you’re not….”
What if, instead, you acknowledged its presence and, instead of trying to ignore it, told it that you’re going to give it a try anyhow. The more you repeatedly try new opportunities and move out of your comfort zone, the quitter that little voice will become.
4. I Need To Just Do…
One more seminar, one more class, read one more book, do one more thing before I go for my dream life/ dream job.
When you say, “I need to just do…,” it creates an illusion similar to limiting belief #1. This is your limiting belief trying to convince you that to be successful, it all rests on doing one more… And after you do this one more thing, then you will be successful. Except when you do this, there will always be the need to do one more thing.
This limiting belief can also be related to others on this page. Essentially, it all comes down to. When you hold onto the “I need to just do…” limiting belief, you keep yourself frozen in place. This one is probably driven more out of fear than anything else. Fear of success, failure, criticism, rejection, doubt, you name it, and it’ll probably fit here.
Here is the cool thing, though. A belief is a thought. And while you can’t control your first thought. You can control your second thought. So you have an opportunity at any moment to choose an empowering thought or a disempowering thought. Pretty cool, huh?
5. I Will Be Judged OR Criticized.
This is a big one for a lot of us—the fear of judgment or criticism. And perhaps you have had past experiences that were nothing but judgment and criticism. And this one will keep people out of the spotlight or away from their dreams for years. None of us like to feel judged or criticized.
I’m a mom, and here’s what I told my teenager. We are all trying to do the best that we can with what we have. And quite frankly, we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to other people. Because our focus is on our own life, we are all so focused on our own thoughts and feelings that we don’t notice other people like we fear that they notice us.
I also told my teenager that other people’s opinions are none of your business. You can’t read other people’s minds, so stop pretending that you know what others think about you. What actually happens when you do this is you decide what you think they are thinking. Your own thoughts (second thought if you want to be more precise) are the only things you can control. So when you are preoccupied with what you think others are thinking of you – then they’re the ones in control. And in response, you then try and achieve what you think other people think you should achieve. Do you see the problem here??? You will drive yourself insane trying to live how you think other people think you should live.
6. Fear of Rejection.
This can more accurately be represented as fear of the word “NO.” That ‘no’ word scares us. It can come in many different scenarios. From not asking out that person that you’re attracted to. To not making an important phone call or asking for a raise.
It’s interesting how that fear of the word “NO.” Can keep people from taking a risk, even when there is a possibility that you could get a “YES.”
Sometimes success is just a matter of asking and being willing to keep asking and learning from what didn’t work until you are successful.
I liken this to when you were a kiddo. You learned pretty quickly which parent to go to for what things. For example, you learned which grandparent would let you gorge on sweets when no one was looking.
Understand when you experience rejection of what did not work and then either change your strategy or ask someone else.
7. I Might Fail.
This is an interesting one. The fear of failure. What if I try this thing and it doesn’t work out? For some reason, failure is viewed negatively as this thing should be avoided at all costs.
Even though many of us are familiar with the Thomas Edison quote about inventing the light bulb. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Most people who are successful reframe failure as a learning opportunity. And a way to discover what did not work as they move closer to discovering what will work.
Often, the risk of failure can be mitigated by strategizing, planning appropriately, and knowing at what point you need to reevaluate your original plan. But, unfortunately, failure tends to be over-glorified. People fail all of the time. The only ones who never fail are the ones that never try. And quite frankly, never trying is scarier than trying and failing. At least then you get to learn something, develop a new skill, and can try again.
8. I Don’t Need…
The intellectual’s trap. The “I don’t need…” to be successful to be happy. Or to be wealthy to live the life that I want. To make all that much to feel fulfilled. And the list can go on.
At first glance, this can look good. Even admirable to not feel like you don’t need (fill in the blank here). But what ends up happening is you start to create this intellectual rationalization or justification on why you shouldn’t be successful.
You start to create these narrow confines on what is ‘okay successful’ and what is ‘not okay successful’ and can actually keep you from even trying. You trap yourself into a self-justification for not moving forward and why you should not be successful or reach your full potential.
And if this is where you are struggling. What would you be able to do if you were successful? What might your life be like if you made enough money to live the life you want? And how might your entire life change if you adopted a new belief and let go of “I don’t need…”?
9. It’s Too Late To Pursue…
There is no right age to do something. As long as you still have a pulse, then the right time to do something is now. There is this weird belief that you are supposed to have everything figured out when you’re young. Like, no later than 30 years old. That you’re not supposed to do ‘anything drastic’ when you’re older, I guess this means when you’re 31 years old.
But there are plenty of people who found success after 31 out there. Vera Wang became a designer at 40; Stan Lee created Fantastic Four right before turning 39; Samuel L Jackson didn’t get known until he was 43; Martha Stewart was 41, and The Coronel of KFC was 62 before his original recipe really paid off.
The good news is success is not just for the young. It’s for those that still have a pulse and the drive to move forward.
How to overcome limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs can be familiar even when they make us miserable. There may also be a sense of satisfaction when you find yourself in the all too familiar places that your limiting beliefs take you. And this is the danger. The more times your limiting beliefs “prove” that you are right. The more they convince you that this is the way it’s always going to be.
1. Empowering Beliefs or Positive Affirmations:
A positive statement is an effective way to replace a negative statement that has been programmed when done consistently. There are correct and incorrect ways to use affirmations.
Here are some examples of correct affirmations:
My body is attractive the way it is and does not need to look like a model’s.
I have, deserve and uphold healthy boundaries in my relationships.
A leader can be both strong and nurturing and does not have to look like other leaders to be effective.
I am responsible for the life that I create.
I have the power to choose what I want to believe in, and I’m choosing to believe…
Here are some examples of incorrect affirmations:
I can be the wealthiest person in the world if I just believe.
All those that I meet will love me.
What makes these incorrect affirmations is how weak and surface level they are. They don’t empower you but instead trick a part of your brain into believing that these things will just happen to you. Instead of you choosing to make these things happen for you.
2. Identify your limiting beliefs.
The only way to change is to know what it is that you need to change. If you do not believe that there is a problem, you have no reason to change anything.
It can be pretty simple to figure out what it is that you need to change. But, first, just ask yourself why it is that you don’t think you can do something. And then just sit back and listen to what your limiting beliefs have to say.
Limiting beliefs will keep you in a fixed mindset. However, by learning your limiting beliefs, you can challenge yourself to adopt a growth mindset. Growth mindsets are where you can start looking at your big goals. And instead of feeling like we are victims of our own limiting beliefs, we begin to look at things from different or new perspectives.
You get new ideas when you are viewing struggles through a growth mindset lens. Instead of seeing it as something that is permanent and cannot be overcome, you view it as an obstacle that can be overcome. It may take time and effort, but it can be overcome.
3. Change your limiting beliefs.
Once you know which beliefs you need to change – now you can actually do it.
Ask yourself, is this a limiting belief, or is it factual? And is this thought holding you back, or is it allowing you to move forward? What are the benefits, and what are the limitations to this belief? Because all beliefs have benefits and limitations.
Some beliefs feel like they keep you safe and may do just that at the cost of keeping you small and quiet. And if this is the case, you have an opportunity to change this belief for an alternative belief if you want to. Perhaps for one that gives you a greater opportunity for personal development?
Once you know this, you get to make a choice. Do you want to change this limiting belief for a new positive belief? But know this. Once you become consciously aware, you get to make a choice. And whatever it is that you choose is now your responsibility. No one has the power to do this for you. This power belongs to you and you alone.
And now you’re in control, and you get to choose what your new thoughts will be and where you want to go from there.
4. Now do something about your limiting beliefs and live.
Our belief systems are powerful and have a huge impact on how we live our lives. They affect almost everything we think, feel and do in our lives. When we replace disempowering beliefs with empowering beliefs, we can open up potentials in us that we never believed were possible.
So, ask yourself, what do you believe in?