“I’m not good enough”, “I’m too old to start something new”, “If I try this, nothing will happen”, “Because this didn’t work in the past, it won’t work again”, “I’m not capable of that”.
Does it sound familiar? I often hear clients saying these and it shows that they are driven by limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are perceptions or statements that one considers absolute truths, hindering them from engaging in specific actions. When we think that something is true for us, we tend to stick to it and turn it into a belief.
This is not bad when the truth is a real one but when we are working with assumption this could be a potential trap.
Limiting beliefs take root through a combination of early experiences, repetitive reinforcement, external influences, and the interpretation of events. Negative messages, societal norms, or comparisons with others can contribute to the formation of these beliefs. The lack of challenge and emotional attachment to certain thoughts also play a role.
Over time, these beliefs become deeply ingrained and can shape how individuals perceive themselves and their capabilities.
Some of the most common limiting beliefs are:
-I’m not good enough
-I’m a fruad
-I will fail
-I’m not worthy of success
-I must be perfect
-I’m too old/young
-I don’t deserve love
-Change is always bad
-I’ll never be happy
-Success equals sacrifice
-I’m stuck in my circumstances
Try telling yourself some of these once a day for a month and see what the result will be!
Recognising limiting beliefs
It is possible to shift your mindset from limiting to growth. The first steps are hard, but it gets easier with time. The key here is to be intentional and realistic that this will take time.
Take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to recurring patterns, especially those that may be self-deprecating or hinder your progress.
Notice strong emotional reactions, especially in challenging situations. Emotions can be indicators of underlying beliefs. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way and explore the beliefs that might be contributing to those emotions.
Tune in to your inner dialogue—the ongoing conversation you have with yourself. Identify any negative or self-critical statements and examine the beliefs behind them.
Seek feedback from trusted friends, family, or colleagues. Sometimes, others can provide valuable insights into patterns or beliefs that you might not be aware of.
Overcoming limiting beliefs
Breaking free from limiting beliefs involves gaining awareness, questioning their validity, and actively reframing negative thought patterns. Whether through coaching, therapy, or self-reflection, the process will empower you to overcome self-imposed limitations and embrace a more positive and expansive mindset.
1) Observe your thoughts ‘in the moment’: Working on your self-awareness will help you to catch the limiting thoughts and beliefs on the spot. That will give you the chance to hit the pause button and create a more realistic one.
2) Reframe your thoughts: Challenge assumptions about yourself, others, and the world around you. Ask yourself why you hold certain beliefs and whether they are based on facts or assumptions. Turn this into a realistic thought based on facts and not assumptions. For example, if the limiting belief is “I’m not good enough,” a counter-belief could be “I am constantly learning and improving, and my efforts are valuable.”
3) Work on your Growth Mindset: Start seeing challenges as opportunities and mistakes as growth experiences rather than failures. Stop seeking approval from others and start recognising your achievements. Celebrate them!
4) Embrace the power of ‘Yet”: This is a simple one. Whenever you catch yourself thinking “I’m not very good at this,” add the word “yet” to the end of the sentence. For example, “I’m not very good at this yet.”
5) Use coaching: Engage in coaching, where the coach can help you uncover and address limiting beliefs. This guidance can provide valuable insights and strategies for overcoming these beliefs.
Bonus tip: A couple of weeks ago one of my clients was reluctant to do something because “Whenever I asked for this in the past it was rejected”. Having in mind that this can be a very valid reason I still asked a simple question – “What is different today than the last time you tried this? “. I noticed the face of my client changing and he started smiling. He told me “Many things are different. My manager is different, and I never requested this from her. She has a different mindset from my previous manager”. My takeaway from this is – always check what is different today, what’s changed and whether we believe in things that are no longer valid.
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