In the last post we talked about what self-limiting beliefs look like. Today, let’s talk about where they come from.
Limiting beliefs come from many sources, some of which might surprise you. Many times when self-limiting beliefs come from outside ourselves, they’re offered up as a form of “help”, especially when coming from well-meaning family and friends. They may have started out as someone else’s views for our lives, but when we internalize them we make them our own and they truly become self-limiting beliefs.
Here are a few outside sources of limiting beliefs.
Most family members mean well, but many limiting beliefs come from them and often we take them to heart whether they’re the right beliefs for us or not.
For example, maybe your mother told you that you couldn’t be an artist because there was no talent in your family, so now you believe you’re not creative enough to pursue your dream to be an artist.
Another example would be having a father who was hard-working, but never went to college. He’s always telling you no one in his family has ever gone to college, so you start to believe that you’ll never get to go to college either.
As with family members, friends can say and do thing that have you feeling less capable than you really are. Well most are well-meaning, there are a lot of people who don’t want to see others doing better than they are. As well, people have a tendency to transfer their limiting beliefs to others.
Teachers can have a huge influence on our lives. When we’re younger, they’re almost like parents. Later, they’re almost like our boss. But teachers are people too, and they come with their own set of limiting beliefs. And just like your friends and family, they’ll try to get you to take on their limiting beliefs as your own.
What you read, watch, and listen to can also have an effect on your limiting beliefs. There’s so much false information and “fake news” around these days, that any information you consume can lead you down a negative thought path if you let it.
These are a few of the outside forces that can influence what you believe about yourself.
For the most part, the limiting beliefs people share with you are meant as helpful, even when they’re really not. But, there are some limiting beliefs that people push on you just because they can or because they want to be mean.
For example, you may have an abusive parent who called you a worthless child, a friend who put you down because she was jealous of you, or a teacher who belittled your dream of becoming a professional athlete.
But, there is one more influence, and it’s the most important one of all…
Your own mind
When it comes right down to it, your own thoughts are probably the only real source of your limiting beliefs. Because it’s how you perceive what is said to you that shapes your thoughts and reactions. Maybe not so much when you’re a small child and you believe everything your parents tell you, but once you get older and can think for yourself, it’s your interpretation of what they say more than the words themselves that create your self-limiting belief.
For example, if your parents said, “You’ll never be able to make a living writing,” you could believe what they say is true, or you could tell yourself “They don’t know what they’re talking about. I can do it if I want to.”
Here’s the thing…
Your thoughts are like the soundtrack of your life. Mixed in with the snippets of songs you can’t get out of your mind, are the thoughts that roll around in your subconscious. And every once in awhile one of the negative ones rises to the surface and you think things like, “I’m too stupid to do this. This video isn’t going to turn out. Whose going to want to buy anything from me.”
Those are all limiting beliefs, and unlike the ones we’ve talked about up until now, these are truly self-limiting beliefs because they’re the ones you give yourself.
Self-Doubt and Self-Limiting Beliefs
Everyone has doubts and insecurities at some time in their life. Maybe you could wallpaper a room with rejection notices so you think you can’t write. Maybe you wanted to work on a big research project, but didn’t get hired. Maybe you put your drawings up for sale, and no one bought so you think you can’t draw.
In each of these cases, the outcome was a product of someone else. Their decisions not to accept your book, or to not hire you, or not buy your art have nothing to do with you. The worst thing you can do is start doubting yourself and accepting other people’s decisions as a reflection of your talent and ability.
Your Perception of Others and Your Limiting Beliefs
How others see you, and pass on their limiting beliefs to you is one cause of your self-limiting beliefs. But, did you know that how you see others can also creating your self-limiting beliefs?
Here’s an example:
You’re at a networking event. You spot another small business owner in the crowd and you walk toward them. Before you can reach them, they turn away. You assume they don’t want to talk to you. You might think things like, “I’m a boring conversationalist. No one’s interested in me. Maybe they can tell I don’t belong.”
What if they just didn’t notice you? What if all they wanted was another cup of coffee? Your certainty that they weren’t going to want to talk to you kept you from reaching out and making a connection.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if you’re less than confident, or are a little bit shy. But in putting thoughts into someone else’s head you’re doing the same thing to them as all these other outside influences have done to you. You’re letting your limiting beliefs about yourself affect how you think other people see you.
The Last Word
When it comes to limiting beliefs, many people make the mistake of believing that what others say about them is true. They take in the words but don’t really think about the thoughts and beliefs behind them. Instead, they take on others’ limiting beliefs as their own and carry this baggage around with them.
You don’t have to accept another person’s limited belief of you, or their negative thoughts. Your thoughts are entirely under your control and it’s up to you to either accept or reject what you’re being told.
Learning how to change your thoughts is essential if you want to achieve success in business and in life. When you hear what sounds like a self-limiting belief, stop for a moment to consider if it’s really true or if they’re simply a lie you’ve accepted as truth.
Thanks for being here!
This is part 3 of a 5 part series on Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs. Read the other articles in this series:
Part 3 – How do we get self-limiting beliefs? (this post)
Part 5 –
Read more on Limiting Beliefs: