When facing a new challenge or change, there’s a good chance that you heard a voice in the back of your head, saying something discouraging. They are called a limiting beliefs and they are pretty common in our everyday life. These thoughts often constrain how we see and interact with reality. Understanding, identifying and getting rid of these is a big step towards a healthy and positive mindset. This article is here to help you with that.
What are these limiting beliefs and how they form?
Limiting beliefs are false ideas of reality. They form when we repeatedly come to false conclusions in our life. Examples of limiting beliefs are:
- “If I fail people will judge me.”
- “I’m afraid of rejection.”
- “I’m going to fail at this. Why even try?”
- “Every politician is a liar.”
- “Money is the root of all evil.”
False ideas of reality
These limited beliefs only exist and feel true because you decided or agreed that they are true. Most of the time we don’t agree to them consciously, but subconsciously. And here are the shocking news. Beliefs and not facts. Laws of physics are facts because they are universally true. Beliefs only seem true.
Your mind will come to conclusions from events around you. If you repeatedly come to the same conclusions, your mind thinks it recognized a pattern and this may lead to the born of a belief. Events that hurt you physically or emotionally may lead to a belief after the first time. A good example is when you fail at something, others judge you and you never want to try a similar thing in your life.
You may think that some of these beliefs are rock solid and proven right from time to time. The thing is they are not as solid as you think, you just filter the results that prove it wrong. Your judgement is just clouded by the psychological effect called experimenter’s bias.
Why do we have limiting beliefs?
The reason we have them is because we think they will keep us safe. Some of these beliefs are useful and it would be a bad idea to get rid of them. These are called valid beliefs. A valid belief is “I can’t fly”, so you won’t jump out of the window trying.
Beliefs can come from a number of sources. People often carry limiting thoughts coming from upbringing, experience, fear, education or poor logic.
— Goals Infinite (@GoalsInfinite) 19 August 2016
Identifying and crushing limiting beliefs
We all have negative thoughts that influence our performance, but most of the time they are invisible to us. If you think you don’t have limiting beliefs, it is possible that you are just not aware of them. There are signs that show our limited thinking. If any of these seem familiar from daily situations, you likely have limiting beliefs:
- Worrying too much, often about failure,
- Complaining often,
- Making excuses,
- Having negative thoughts,
- Jumping to conclusions.
Knowing that we have limiting beliefs is not enough. We have to identify them as accurately as we can. It is key to know what kind of events trigger them and how they try to influence us. Reading and answering the following questions in detail may help you to trigger some of your beliefs. While answering, listen to your mind and scan for negative thoughts! Take your time and remember the signs of limiting beliefs! I recommend doing this exercise in writing, so you can reflect on it later.
- What do you think about limiting beliefs? Do you have them?
- What do you think of yourself?
- Do you consider yourself smart / talented?
- What do you think about happiness?
- Do you consider yourself happy?
- What do you think about self-improvement? Do you consider it hard or easy? Why?
- What do you think about money?
- What kind of bad habits do you have? Have you ever felt guilty doing these habits?
- What kind of good habits are you lacking? Why are you lacking them?
- How do you feel about failure?
- How do you feel about success?
- Do you often procrastinate? Why? Are these short-term (tomorrow) or long term (someday)?
- What are your dreams? Do they sound realistic?
- What do you feel when thinking about your goals?
- What’s keeping you from reaching your goals?
- What is the deadline of your goal? Is it a realistic one?
- Is it a good time to work towards your goals?
- Have you ever talked to someone about your goals? How did it feel?
- Do you consider yourself motivated?
- What do you think about your current job?
- Do you consider yourself to be a good employee?
- What do you think, how do your colleagues see you?
- Does your boss / company value you enough?
- How do you feel talking to your colleagues?
- What do you think when you see your boss calling you on the phone?
- How will others think of you, when they find out about your goals?
- How will others think of you, when you reach your goal?
- Do you fear others judgement?
- Do you trust people?
- How do you feel about rejection?
- How do you feel meeting new people?
- What are your thoughts when talking to someone from the other sex?
- How do you feel when talking to relatives / family members?
I hope these exercises helped you to know yourself a little better and identify your limiting beliefs. Now you are aware of them and maybe their triggers as well. But awareness is just the first step of this process. Now, I’d like to ask you to consciously make the decision to disagree with your limiting beliefs. This may be hard but remember their nature. They are not facts, we just agree to them.
Now that you are aware, you can confront them in your everyday life. I want you to do these steps in the following days, I call it the DDD technique:
- Detect: Scanning your thoughts during the day is essential. Be aware when a limiting thought comes to your mind. Don’t let it influence you!
- Disagree: Say to yourself that you choose to disagree with this negative idea!
- Destroy: You need to crush this limiting belief, with its constructive counterpart. It should be a positive, present tense sentence that summarizes, what do you want instead of the limiting belief.
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” – Henry Ford
Henry Ford said in his famous quote, Every time we eliminate one, it is a huge step towards success. I hope this article helps you with your own limiting beliefs. Feel free to send me your answers from the identifying questions, I’d really like to read them so I can understand your situation better and adjust my future articles to your needs. If you have any question or thoughts on the subject write me an email.
About the authorGabor Hosszu is the founder and head article writer of Goals Infinite. Being passionate about personal development and helping others were the main reasons he launched this site. By trade Gabor is a mechanical engineer. His hobbies include being a chilli farmer, a video game nerd and a wannabe beer expert.