Limiting beliefs are self-defeating thoughts that you personally created. These often come from past experiences that left a mark on you—from either someone who said something to you or a situation that scared you. The first step to getting rid of these beliefs is to let go of all your thoughts and emotions from the past and embrace the possibilities that your goals and ambitions might just be right at the corner.
If you've ever felt like you were stuck in a rut or frustrated by a lack of progress, chances are high that your brain is playing tricks on you. These mental glitches we all have are known as limiting beliefs—thoughts or feelings that we hold to be true without much evidence (or maybe even in the face of opposing evidence) and that cause us to behave in ways that are unhelpful or ineffective.
They usually come from a place of fear: fear of not being good enough or not smart enough, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of missing out on something better or different than what you already have, and so forth. It's easier for us to see the reality about something when we're not burdened by these fears and anxieties. Limiting beliefs are often irrational, but when you're feeling them, you feel like they're completely justified. Still, there are ways to be able to overcome them for you to free yourself and achieve your potential.
Name your limiting belief
The first step toward getting rid of a limiting belief is identifying what yours may be. These kinds of beliefs are associated with things like intelligence, beauty, and wealth, but they can also be related to more specific things—for example, if you're a writer who has always wanted to write a novel but can't seem to get started, you might find that your thought "I'm not a good writer" is holding you back.
When you start paying attention, you'll find that these kinds of thoughts pop up all the time. Say something goes wrong at work and you get reprimanded for it—a limiting belief might be "I'm not good enough to succeed here.”
Beliefs like this one can be so ingrained in your mind that you believe they're true without ever questioning them. You might not realize that you have limiting beliefs because they can become part of the way you think without any conscious thought or effort on your part—they're part of your automatic response system.
Challenge this belief
Once you've identified your personal set of limiting beliefs, try to challenge them. It's much easier said than done, but over time you may begin to notice that certain beliefs no longer seem as true to you as they once did. Remember: the purpose of questioning these beliefs is to develop new ones that will be more helpful and functional in your life.
It is helpful to examine why you believe it. In order to answer these questions, it would be useful to ask yourself:
- What are some examples of when this belief has held me back?
- How does this belief make me feel about myself? About life? About other people?
- Why do I think this way? Does anyone I know hold the same belief? Why or why not?
- When did I adopt this belief? When have I noticed myself relying on it before?
Let go of your setbacks
After naming your limiting belief/s and questioning them, try to go deeper and think about all the times they held you back. You can try writing them down so you can look back on them later.
Ask yourself, “When did this belief affect a big decision I made?” and follow it with “What could have changed if I did not let it get in the way of my decision?”. You may face a lot of what-ifs and could-have-been during this time, but it is worth reflecting on the gravity held by that limiting belief over your life. This is the perfect moment to remind yourself to let it go & move on. You might never know what opportunity is waiting for you.
Take on a new belief
Now, try to come up with a new belief that is more empowering than your limiting one. This new belief should be something that makes you feel stronger, happier, and more motivated to achieve what you want out of life. It should not be something that puts down other people but rather focuses on positive qualities.
Keep in mind to take the time to really think about what you want them to be replaced with. This will shape the way that your brain reacts once it's been changed. For example, if your limiting belief is "I'm not good at graphic design", then maybe you want to replace it with “Graphic designing is a skill I can learn if I put in enough time and effort".
For example, I have the tendency to look at myself in the mirror & repeat “I can do it” whenever I feel a lack of confidence. Doing this often gives me the energy to take action.
Live by your new belief
As soon as you have those replacement beliefs in mind, it's time for action. Say, you now want to try practice writing or graphic design because you now believe that you can learn it. Try to put it into practice and commit at least some part of your day to practice the skill.
Know that you don't have to do this alone. You can seek out others who share your belief system and surround yourself with positive people. You can find support groups online, or even just friends who can provide a listening ear when you need someone to talk things out with.
Empowering beliefs can be the stepping stone to achieving your goals, however big or small they may be. These are essential habits that could help propel you towards success. Work on cultivating a set of these though and celebrate every bit of success along the way.