Are limiting beliefs and negative thoughts preventing you from living your best life?
Willingness is the first step that can help turn your limiting ideas into dreams without limit. Are you aware of some of the ways you sabotage or hold yourself back? Procrastination? Feeling you're not good enough? Feeling like you're too old or young or not educated enough? Did your family tell you rich people are greedy? Or people like us don't become successful? Or I'm shitty at math so I can never do my taxes? Or I have terrible taste in partners and only date assholes?
No matter what, we all have them. We grow up and hear all kinds of positive and negative beliefs and some are helpful and some aren't. What if your parents told you that you were destined to be successful? What if no one from your family went to college and they told you that people who do that think they're better than everyone else? Does any of this sound familiar?
If you're still reading, the answer is probably.
SO, are you looking for ways to undersand these beliefs that limit you?
"Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest wishes come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure such ideas in the first place. There is no limitation on what you can potentially achieve, except for the limitation you choose to impose on your own imagination. What you believe to be possible will always come to pass - to the extent that you deem it possible. It really is as simple as that."
— Anthon St. Maarten
Do you want to have a better understanding of what they are?
You first want to identify their source and understand their impact.
In this article, we help you identify the source and understand the impact of limiting beliefs. But first, let’s take a look at limiting beliefs in detail.
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
Do you notice when you're planning to do things or setting your goals that you have a little voice in your head telling you what you can and can't do or what you deserve in life? Or maybe it's the voice about what's possible for you based on what you've learned from society, family, or friends?
That inner voice is based on your internal beliefs based on what you've heard and also your fears and experiences that shape them - and sometimes it's not very nice. Other times, that voice is extremely motivating and supportive and leads you to believe that you have the courage to follow your dreams and goals and get out of your comfort zone. Those beliefs and that voice guides you through major and minor decisions that help shape your life.
But what makes it a limiting belief?
A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction, thought, or belief that holds you back by keeping you stuck, believing you can't do it, talking you out of taking risks, or sabotaging you by keeping you in your comfort zone. These thoughts or beliefs are invisible barriers that prevent you from trying new things or taking actions necessary to change your life.
These beliefs are ones that you hold to be true but one, but that are not always helpful - whether or not you realize it. Most of the time, we have never actually sat down to figure out which beliefs help or hurt our potential. A limiting belief changes your perspective about yourself, others, and the world. It is also a major cause of a negative mindset.
Sometimes, limiting beliefs don’t do much except keep you from being happy even when something good happens to you. Or maybe you feel the rug is always about to be pulled out from under you when you do get good things in life. Or maybe you don't trust your own success and that it will last.
If you believe these limitations, it becomes true for you, whether or not it actually is. This is not to say that we don't have very real external challenges and limitations in our lives and we certainly do not all have the same starting point. But our mindset really is everything. And if you believe your own sabotaging beliefs, you will act as if you were deficient in that particular area of talent or skill and thus impair your own personal growth that can lead you to your success, fulfillment, and happiness.
Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
Now that we know what limiting beliefs are and how they work, let's find out where they come from. Children don't recognize what's possible in life until someone teaches them. Surely you weren’t born with such negative thoughts about yourself and the world - unfortunately, you learned them.
Limiting beliefs, no matter how strong, are often first usually introduced to you based on what you heard. These beliefs aren’t without cause and always have a deeply rooted source in our subconscious. Generally, when we hear things growing up, we accept or reject the belief. However, it’s when we accept the belief that it becomes a reality for us.
As Louise Hay says, “If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.”
Knowing how these limiting beliefs sneak into your mind can help you prevent them from taking root. Let’s take a look at some causes of limiting beliefs.
Environment & Family Beliefs
Most of our limiting beliefs and programs have a history that often stems from our childhood up to the age of around 18. As children, we're still learning about our environment and the world and we are often told not to question our parents, society, caregivers, teachers, and others in positions of leadership or influence. What we learn during this phase can become our default mindset without us even realizing it and create judgements on ourselves and other people.
Often our cultural environment and family lead us to accept biases towards ourselves. For example, receiving criticism for your abilities could lower your self-esteem. This, in turn, could prevent you from ever making an effort to get better grades. If your parents told you that you weren't good in math, you might subconsciously believe them and never try in class because you assumed you were doomed for failure anyway. If your parents told you that people from your family don't go to college then you might not want to go against the grain and be someone who does.
In the words of Oprah Winfrey - “What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe.”
Education and Knowledge
Knowledge can give power to your thoughts, both good and bad.
What we learn from our parents, surroundings, teachers, and peers can sow the seeds for positive or negative beliefs. If we learn in school that 'the nail that sticks out gets hit,' we will try our hardest not to speak up, create disruptions, or go against the grain. We might hold back when it comes to expressing our own thoughts and feelings and go along with what others want us to do because we fear being criticized by society and our peers. These beliefs are extremely powerful and when it comes to our culture and education systems, we often don't realize how much these beliefs dictate how we act and show up in life.
For example, when it comes to harnessing our creativity, if all the kids in the class draw a sailboat that's red, and you draw one that's blue and your teacher applauds you for being creative and different, you will learn that venturing out and taking risks against the norm can be positive. Likewise, if your teacher scolded you, mocked you and made fun of you for expressing yourself differently, you will learn that taking the safest, less noticeable route and not calling attention to yourself because you fear judgement of criticism.
Past Events and Experiences
Winning a race can fill a person with positive beliefs and future determination when it comes to their body and its capacities. After winning once, the person will most likely assume that there is a big chance it could happen again and future outcome feels positive and hopeful. However, on the other hand, failure can have the exact same effect and can even create a sort of goal trauma that creates a sense of fear every time the person gets close to reaching the goal because the future can be filled with a sense of fear and possible failure.
Even though our brain might know better on a logical level that past events do not have to hold the power to determine results of our endeavors in the future, our emotional response can still relive past events and we can become crippled with negative thoughts andd anxieties about the future. This applies to situations, goals, even people. Have you ever had a friend who was let go from a job once and now has a constant fear that it will happen again? Or maybe someone who was cheated on who assumes every new person will do the same thing? Those are limiting beliefs that create a negative mindset and hold us back.
Left unaddressed, we often find ourselves coming back to past experiences as our only examples. We end up comparing everything that happens to us with something negative that happened to us in the past.
Fear of Consequences
Another common source of those limiting beliefs is fear. People often fear a negative response or outcome when trying something new. Imagining things going unfavorably can thus lead to developing a negative mindset about everything. Whether it’s meeting new people, starting a new job, or making a career change, we believe everything will have a negative outcome. That constant 'WHAT IF' can easily create paralysis and anxiety about moving ourselves forward.
What if I can't do it?
What if they laugh at me?
What if I fail?
Anxiety About Future Goals & Obligations
Having a positive outlook for the future and working towards it is also a belief. However, if you’re holding a negative thought about the future, this belief can become a limiting one. So many people lose sight of totay because we're so afraid of what we have coming up that we have to do or about all the things that we're responsible for that we create panic as a result. The more we understand that the beliefs we create today have an effect on our tomorrow the more we can create alternate beliefs for them to change future ways of dealing with situations.
Mark Twain — 'I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.'
What Are the Effects of Limiting Beliefs?
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of where your limiting beliefs come from. Let’s now find out how these limiting beliefs affect you.
Limiting beliefs are sneaky.
Even when we know the source, it can be hard to identify how and when a limiting belief affects us. Below are a few ways in which limiting beliefs impact our personal growth.
We frequently give in to others to prevent conflict for fear of letting people down or being criticized
We do not speak up or stand up for ourselves, thinking we do not deserve to or that we won’t be heard
We become perfectionists and risk-averse because we want to control things or stay in our comfort zones
We act defensively when questioned
Find yourself feeling frustrated in life and unable to make changes for your personal growth?
You might want to analyze your limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs can keep you from:
Making good choices
Taking on new opportunities
Reaching your potential
Overcoming a negative mindset
Living the life you want
Seeing the world around you with a different perspective
Recognizing positive changes
Dreaming, hoping, or working towards your desired future
What Do Limiting Beliefs Cost You?
Limiting beliefs affect your personality and your thought process. They also hold you back and can cost you every dream, person, and thing you hold dear in life.
Great opportunities are sometimes right around the corner, waiting for us to take a few steps and chance upon them. Having the right mindset and hoping for the best, opens you up to the best in life.
You can always turn a limiting belief around!
So why not take that one step today to build the future you desire tomorrow?
"Like a Columbus of the heart, mind and soul I have hurled myself off the shores of my own fears and limiting beliefs to venture far out into the uncharted territories of my inner truth, in search of what it means to be genuine and at peace with who I really am. I have abandoned the masquerade of living up to the expectations of others and explored the new horizons of what it means to be truly and completely me, in all my amazing imperfection and most splendid insecurity."
— Anthon St. Maarten
- uncovering your limiting beliefs and understanding where they come from
- understand where and how they hold you back
- take the first steps towards making positive solutions to change your mindset and take back control of your life.
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
References and citations
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