One thing I’ve heard referenced all throughout my self-development journey is the concept of “limiting beliefs”. It keeps popping up throughout numerous books, podcasts, videos and articles, so I thought I’d look into it.
According to changingminds.org, “limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit.”
Essentially, they are things we believe that ultimately limit us in some way. These beliefs can be about ourselves, our abilities, rights, or duties, how we perceive others, how we perceive the world… and these beliefs can keep us from achieving our goals, trying new things, growing, or living our best lives. Eek! Pretty damn scary, right?
Here’s what Tony Robbins has to say about it:
“Our nature is to only invest energy into that which we believe will produce the outcome we seek. Therefore, when we believe something is not going to work out - even unconsciously - we sabotage our potential by taking halfhearted action. Little action equals lousy results. Lousy results equal uncertainty and disheartened beliefs. It is a vicious cycle that only ends when you decide to change what you’re putting into it.”
Let’s break that down a bit:
I am/am not - We tend to define ourselves by what we ARE or what we are NOT. I think labels suck and hurt us way more than they help us. I am [X] so I can’t be [Y]. The ‘I Am’ belief tends to assume that we can’t change or must stick within our box.
I am scared
I am unworthy
I am out-of-shape
I am supposed to be [x]
I do/don’t - Just as with before, we can define ourselves by what we do or do not do. This can cover everything from our job and skill set to what we think we do (or do not) deserve.
I don’t have time
I don’t have the willpower
I don’t deserve it (whatever it is - love, happiness, success, etc.)
I can’t - We believe we can’t do something so we never try. We forget that we can LEARN.
I can’t succeed
I can’t do it
I must/must not - We look at social norms, laws, rules, and values (link) and then have our guidepost as to what we must or must not do. Often times, these things aren’t mandatory but are treated as such. As things change, holding on to what we must or must not do can be extremely limiting.
I must be wealthy
I must believe [x]
Others are/will - Try as we might, we still judge others. Our experiences and interaction shape our expectations of who others are and how we treat each other. We can put them in the category we think they belong and often don’t reevaluate.
Others can’t be trusted
Others will judge me
Others who don’t think like me are bad
We build these beliefs through our direct experiences, logic (both valid and faulty), education, perceptions, excuses, fear, etc. We latch onto these beliefs with everything we have and often refuse to modify or dismiss them (much to our own detriment).
We let our limiting beliefs sabotage us and affect our goals, relationships, happiness, and lives without even realizing it! Part of being intentional with ourselves is taking the time to recognize our limiting beliefs, analyzing whether they’re helping or hurting us, and making an effort to not follow them blindly.
MY biggest limiting belief: I’m not enough.
I’m not good/smart/pretty/nice/forgiving/successful/considerate/healthy/strong blah blah enough. It’s a mantra that seems to play in a constant loop inside my brain. Everytime a new challenge or opportunity comes up, I look in the mirror and see stretch marks, or think about my goals, it’s comes up. I’m not enough. And if I don’t recognize it and beat it back with everything I have, I let that belief, and my fear, win.
I have a necklace that I bought from Jenna Kutcher that says I AM ENOUGH. It’s one of my all-time favorite just-for-me purchases that I bought for myself and Melissa for Galentine’s Day. It helps me beat back the fear and limiting beliefs, and feel confident every single time I wear it.
I’m making the effort every day to recognize when I’m sabotaging myself and letting my limiting beliefs hurt my life. It’s not something I’m always successful at… there are days I don’t feel enough and I stop myself from going for it. Because I’m scared. But this is something I’m passionate about and will not stop working towards. I hope you will too!