Self-limiting beliefs have more of a negative impact on your life than almost any other factor. They rank right up there with fear as one of the biggest blocks to doing what you love and living your dreams. You could even say that your fears are a by-product of your limiting beliefs.
After all, most of us are pretty rational – we’re not going to spend a lot of time on something that we believe is doomed for failure. Why would you even try to write a novel, if you genuinely believed you couldn’t string two sentences together? Why would you try to lose weight if everyone in your family was obese and you believed obesity was in your genes? Or, why would you start a business if you believed you didn’t have the skills for it, and you were too old, too inexperienced, to ever see success?
Limiting beliefs come in all shapes and sizes and we all carry around our fair share of them. They come from a variety of sources as well as from our own interpretation of the world around us. Often, they’re buried so deep in our sub-conscious mind that it takes time for us to recognize and overcome them.
So what does a self-limiting belief look like?
Here are four ways to tell that the thoughts you’re having might be limiting beliefs.
Self-limiting beliefs have no basis in reality
Most self-limiting beliefs have no basis in reality. There’s no real reason for you to believe you can’t do something if your belief isn’t based on personal experience. As long as your belief isn’t based on physical limitations – as in, if your 50 years old you’re probably not going to make an NHL team – then you really won’t know what you can and can’t do until you try.
Self-limiting beliefs are negative
Self-limiting beliefs are always negative. They are the epitome of negative self-talk and self-doubt. You know that little voice in your head that’s always telling you what you can’t do… “You can’t write a book. Even if you do, no one will read it. Who do you think you are? Do you really want people to laugh at you?”
It may surprise you to realize that a lot of the time, negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs are a defense mechanism. They’re your mind’s way of protecting you against failure. It’s a vicious cycle of thoughts where you don’t have to try if you know you’re going to fail, and if you believe you’re going to fail before you try, then if you don’t try you won’t risk failing or getting hurt or having people laugh at you or any of those other things your negative mind are telling you will happen.
Self-limiting beliefs encourage a poverty mindset
Since self-limiting beliefs are negative thoughts that center on lack, they encourage a poverty mindset. This goes way money and can make its way into every aspect of your life. Your self-limiting thoughts might include things like, “There’s only so much success to go around. I can’t grow my business because I don’t have a list. My competition charges less than I do, so I have to charge low prices too.”
When it comes to creating your life and your business, this mindset makes you very protective of what’s “yours”. Since you don’t believe there’s enough for everyone, and that you’ll never have enough you won’t make connections with anyone who might possibly want to take what you think of as yours.
Not only will this type of thinking keep you from growing your business, it also keeps you from becoming friends with other business owners. You see everyone as a competitor rather than a potential business partner or affiliate.
Self-limiting beliefs feed a victim mentality
Self-limiting beliefs make you think you’re a victim. For example, you might think things like, “Success doesn’t run in my family. I’m destined to be a loser. It doesn’t matter how hard I work – I still won’t be able to succeed.”
The problem with these thoughts is that they can convince you that you really are powerless, and they will if you let them. As a result, you don’t challenge your self-limiting beliefs. You stay stuck in the same place for months or even years, never realizing that the real problem was your mindset.
The worst part of this is that you do it to yourself. I know that after my divorce, I was stuck in an ocean full of self-limiting beliefs. It was an abusive relationship and while he never hit me, he did verbally and emotionally abuse me every day of the marriage. By the time he left I had bought into everything he told me, and believed that I was no good, stupid, no one wanted to be friends with me… I think I said on my About page, he left me feeling lower than worm slime. And I let myself stay stuck in believe all of that for almost 10 year after he left!
That’s the power of self-limiting beliefs, and the biggest reason why you have to work to change your mindset. I lost 10 years of my life to self-limiting beliefs that someone else fed to me.
Seeing and dealing with self-limiting beliefs does take time, but don’t let it take as long as I did. When you recognize yourself focusing on a self-limiting belief, try to counter it with a positive truth. Keep doing this and eventually you’ll notice that you are focusing more on positive thoughts than the negative ones. You can do this! I know you can!
Thanks for being here!
This is part 2 of a 5 part series on Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs. Read the other articles in this series:
Part 2 – What does a self-limiting belief look like? (this post)
Part 3 – How do we get self-limiting beliefs?
Part 5 –
Read more on Limiting Beliefs: