Uncover and Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

How many times have you told yourself that you can’t do something? I know I can hold my hand up to that. Sadly, it meant that I didn’t do certain things that I could have done if it wasn’t for the limiting beliefs I held at the time.

Perhaps you identify with that struggle. Do you ever find that you are held back by the way you think? Our beliefs can shape the way we live, the way other people treat us, and the environment around us. They really are that powerful (although it may be true to say that our beliefs have as much power as we give them) and can lead to self-sabotaging behaviour that holds us back. That’s what it is key to work on uncovering and overcoming your own limiting beliefs. This will set you free, enabling you to live life as you choose and reach your full potential.

The first step is to uncover your limiting beliefs. To do this you may need to first understand why you have them.

Our beliefs are formed as we experience a variety of situations in life. It may be that there are several negative experiences that lead to limiting beliefs. For example, a repeated negative suggestion from a critical parent (an example of a simple cumulative trauma – where a repeated negative experience or idea occurs) could lead to you feeling low self-esteem, not having a high opinion of yourself, or believing you cannot achieve anything. It could also be due to several unconnected but upsetting or traumatic experiences that have caused a lack of faith in life (what’s known as a compound cumulative trauma). Both types of trauma can cause limiting beliefs, but it is possible to overcome them.

Once you’ve understood where your limiting beliefs come from, you can uncover them further. To do this you can think about what you want from life. What is it that you want to do and achieve but have not managed to so far? Identifying what your goals are will uncover any limiting beliefs you have around them. So, when you have your goals in mind, consider all beliefs that you have which relate to them; both positive and negative. An example may be that you want to learn to drive. The positive thoughts you have are that you won’t have to rely on public transport and will be more independent. The negative thoughts, which are the limiting ones, may be that it’s too expensive to learn to drive and you can’t afford it, that you won’t pass your test because you are stupid, and that even if you do pass you won’t be a good driver so what’s the point.

Signs of limiting beliefs include:

  • Making excuses;
  • Procrastinating;
  • Trying to be perfect;
  • Jumping to conclusions;
  • Talking to yourself in unhelpful ways.

It an be all too easy to allow the limiting beliefs to take over, particularly if they seem to outweigh the positives and especially if your beliefs are based on negative ideas that someone put on to you. However, it’s important to acknowledge that you have those limiting beliefs around a particular thing, while also being mindful of the fact that you are allowed to feel the way that you have been.

When you’ve gained a conscious awareness of what your limiting beliefs are, you can move on to overcoming and letting them go. Of course, this isn’t as simple as just doing it. It may take time and it will require effort on your part. Your limiting beliefs will have served a purpose by protecting you from something that is uncomfortable or causes pain. However, that isn’t productive in the long term and actually leads to increased emotional pain as the limiting beliefs become more of a problem.

To overcome your limiting beliefs, first of all remind yourself of what it is you want to achieve. Then remind yourself of the limiting belief you have around that goal. Once you’ve done that, consider what alternative beliefs you could have instead of the limiting one. Using learning to drive as an example again, you may have thought that you can’t afford to learn and that you won’t pass your test anyway. You could decide that your alternative belief is going to be that you can manage your money better in order to pay for lessons and that with the guidance and practice you’ll receive it will become easier to pass your test. They are two different ways of thinking that each bring different results. One will keep you stuck where you are and the other will encourage you achieve your goal of learning to drive. The same rule can be applied to any goal or situation.

Once you have thought about what alternative beliefs you could have, begin to empower yourself with positive talk, both to yourself and to other people. Tell yourself each day what you are going to achieve and why. Allow your positive words to maintain your positive thoughts, which then become positive results.

Using visualisation techniques can also help. Sitting back, closing your eyes, focusing on your breathing and allowing your mind to drift to the near future when you are maintaining your positive beliefs and achieving your goals can certainly help. If you can see it then surely you can achieve it. Imagine how great your life will be without those old limiting beliefs that held you back.

Each week take some time out to think about the progress you are making and how your positive thoughts are shaping your beliefs. As your beliefs change, so will the way you behave and feel. Embrace it because ultimately you are changing your life by choosing to indulge in positive beliefs only.

If for some reason you do start to feel limiting beliefs creeping back in, stop what you are doing and simply say out loud and mentally, “I do not believe this anymore”. Say if with conviction as you really mean it.

As you go through life, continue to challenge any limiting beliefs that you have. They can always be replaced with positive ones. If that’s something you struggle to do, then perhaps hypnotherapy or counselling could help you. It’s an option to keep in mind if you need a helping hand.