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Last Updated on December 9, 2020

How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs and Get Over Them

How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs and Get Over Them

If you think back to your earliest childhood memories, it’s likely you remember times when you were fearless, when curiosity took you places you wouldn’t dare go now.

However, as you began to age, you were introduced to an unending list of rules about what you should say, how you should be, and what you should do. These likely resulted in you creating limiting beliefs and perhaps even not realizing your full potential.

While you do have to live by some rules, it’s important that you aren’t holding yourself back from living a full life.

If you feel like you want to attain greater heights but that you’re standing in your own way, then continue reading. This article will explore how you can identify your limiting beliefs and get over them.

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Have you ever made a statement like “I’m not good at math” or “I have two left feet and would never make a good dancer”? These are examples of limiting beliefs that put you in a corner of your own making and often falsely define you.

A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction, or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way.[1] This limiting belief could be about you, your interactions with other people, or with the world and how it works.

Limiting beliefs can have a number of negative effects on you. They could keep you from making good choices, taking new opportunities, or reaching your potential. Ultimately, limiting beliefs can keep you stuck in a negative state of mind and hinder you from living the life you truly desire.

Causes of Limiting Beliefs

Now that you understand what limiting beliefs are, do you know what causes them? Where do they come from and how have they influenced your choices in life?

Some argue that people are not wired to be open-minded, as our inherent biases cause us to only desire positive and agreeable information.

However, there are other things that cause limiting beliefs aside from inherent biases and an inability to be open-minded. Below, you’ll find a few you may resonate with.

Family Beliefs

Growing up, your parents likely had morals and values they tried to instill in you. These often stemmed from their own familial beliefs and ideas about how both you and the world should be. It could be things such as what career paths you should take, how to behave, and how to engage with others.

You can end up forming your own limiting beliefs based on the beliefs they instilled in you. An example would be your parents reinforcing a belief that authority should never be challenged.

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As a result, you may believe that unfair treatment from people of authority is something that has to be accepted as opposed to challenged. You may even be unable to recognize this behavior.

Education

Education plays a major role in forming limiting beliefs, too. Whether you’re learning from family, teachers, or friends, they all have an impact on what you adopt as truth. This is because they’re both in a position of authority and constantly sharing information, ideas, and beliefs about how the world works.

When you’re learning from authority figures that you respect, you are even more inclined to conclude that the things they tell you are true.

Experiences

When you make decisions or have experiences in life, it is common for you to draw conclusions afterward. If, for example, you fall in love and it ends in heartbreak, you might conclude that love always ends in pain.

These sorts of negative experiences, in particular, can strongly shape your limiting beliefs. It’s important to remember that the conclusions you come to after bad experiences happen are only valid temporarily.

How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs

So, how do you identify limiting beliefs? There are a number of ways you can do so, and most require some personal reflection.

Seeing as they may not be easily identifiable, here are a couple of methods you could try to bring them to the surface.[2]

1. Identify and Write Down Your Beliefs

To identify beliefs that are limiting you, start by writing down your general beliefs.

Write down beliefs about anything you feel strongly about and that influence your daily life. Group them into different categories like finances, family, relationships, or health.

Once you’ve done this, examine which ones are helping you grow and which could be limiting you.

2. Assess Your Behavior

Another approach you can take to identify limiting beliefs would be to assess your behavior.

Think about scenarios where you’ve acted in negative or toxic ways and think about why. If you look closely at your toxic behaviors, you might discover that the underlying cause is limiting beliefs.

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For instance, if you find it difficult to speak your mind when someone has offended you, you may possess the limiting belief that conflict is bad. This, in turn, could keep you from having truly intimate relationships as you’re unable to speak your mind and have healthy confrontations.

3. Write Down Areas Where You Feel Challenged

If you’ve noticed that you have recurring challenges in certain areas of your life, this could be indicative of limiting beliefs.

Perhaps you can’t seem to land a well-paid job, or you never have luck when it comes to love. These challenges may simply be the byproduct of erroneous beliefs that you’ve adopted as truths.

As you go through each challenge you write down, also make a note of which of your beliefs pertain to that challenge. So, if you’re always struggling to make enough money, uncover what you think about money and how accessible it is to you.

7 Ways to Overcome Limiting Beliefs

The good thing about limiting beliefs is that you have the power to change them any time. This doesn’t mean that doing so will be an easy process, but commitment and a greater level of self-awareness can make it possible.

The suggestions below could help you successfully overcome any limiting beliefs you have.

1. Organize Your Environment

Believe it or not, your environment can have an effect on your beliefs. Having a well-organized and spacious environment could improve your mental health and encourage positive thinking. When your environment is tidy, it gives you the space to think and gain more clarity.

To create a better environment, get rid of any clutter you may have accumulated at home. You could even go as far as redesigning your space to improve the flow.

You may even consider using feng shui practices.[3] The basic premise is to channel the flow of energy by placing objects in a certain way.

It’s a good way of keeping positive energy flowing through your home and getting rid of negative ones. Hopefully, this will influence your mindset and help you focus on positive thoughts and beliefs.

2. Try Minimalism

Embracing minimalism can help you get rid of false beliefs that are holding you back.

The fundamentals of minimalism are clarity, honesty, and detaching from material things.[4]

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For example, if you find that you’re addicted to cluttering your wardrobe with new clothing items, it could be because of limiting beliefs about your physical appearance. An example of such a belief would be “I’m not attractive unless I’m wearing the latest fashion.”

Seeing as minimalism is all about your mindset and resisting peer pressure, it could help you reverse limiting beliefs and embrace a more meaningful lifestyle.

3. Explore More

As mentioned earlier, limiting beliefs can be a result of being closed-minded. To help open your mind, learn to let curiosity lead you. When you give in to curiosity, you’re more likely to explore the world around you and break out of your comfort zone. What this can do is help expand your mind and make you challenge your beliefs.

Curiosity also creates opportunities for you to learn about other people’s beliefs and observe new ideas. Some ways to explore would be to have conversations with people who have different backgrounds than you.

Traveling is another effective method to try as it gives you the chance to engage with different cultures and ways of life.

4. Counseling

If you’re struggling to change your limiting beliefs on your own, you could benefit from the help of a therapist or counselor.

In the event that your limiting beliefs are triggering other conditions like anxiety or depression, you may have even more of a need to seek professional help. This is because counselors and therapists have the resources and knowledge needed to help you overcome challenges and live a more satisfying life. They can also help you trace limiting beliefs and give you the tools you need to get over them, such as cognitive-behavioral therapies supported by gamification.[5]

Technology has made getting counseling and health-related services so much easier.[6] This is because you’re able to download health-related apps and liaise with your therapist or counselor from the comfort of your mobile phone.

There are also mental health trackers that can be used to track anxiety triggers, emotional states, and your progress over time. All of this makes it so that you’re not alone on your journey to eliminating limiting beliefs.

5. Meditation

Beliefs often originate from the thoughts of others that worm their ways into our own, so tackling your own thoughts could help you change negative beliefs.

To have more control over your thoughts, take a few minutes a day to meditate. When you meditate, you free your mind from negative or unwanted thoughts and ideas.

The goal of meditation should be to let thoughts pass through your mind without engaging in them.

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Meditation helps you calm your mind and connect with your inner-self. Once you’re able to get past all of the clutter in your head, you can focus on the positive beliefs you want to adopt[7].

Health & Mental Benefits of Meditation

    With time, these beliefs could replace the negative ones. Before you know it, your mind will be filled with positive beliefs that help you become the best version of yourself.

    6. Personal Development

    If you want better beliefs to guide your thinking and choices, you have to work on yourself. This means actively seeking opportunities for development and growth in all aspects of your life.

    Self-improvement is important as it can increase self-awareness and help you overcome weaknesses. Since it requires actions, you’re forced to do something about your limiting beliefs as opposed to hoping they’ll magically go away.

    Ways to develop yourself include:

    • Reading books from authors that share the kind of beliefs you hope to have.
    • Podcasts are also a great way to consume information that could make you better.
    • Set practical goals so that you can measure your growth.
    • Journaling can help you monitor your progress, especially when it comes to your thoughts and beliefs.

    7. Positive Affirmations

    If you struggle with low-self esteem, it can be hard to establish positive beliefs. However, positive affirmations are a great way to help improve your self-esteem. They force you to speak about yourself in a positive way, and hopefully, with time, you’ll begin believing your affirmations.

    If you have limiting beliefs about how lovable you are, it could limit your ability to attract loving and kind people into your life.

    To help change that belief, you could write down an affirmation that says “I am valuable, amazing, and lovable.” Saying this every day could help build your self-esteem over time.[8]

    Your positive affirmations should also celebrate your strengths. Use your successes and your strengths to write down affirmations that remind you of just how incredible you are. This could also give you the courage you need to push yourself and achieve more.

    Final Thoughts

    The world is full of beliefs, and as long as there are different kinds of people, this won’t change. However, you’ve got to figure out which beliefs help you live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

    All of the beliefs that keep you from living that life are limiting and ones that you should get rid of. By doing so, you give yourself a chance to create a life that supersedes your expectations.

    More About Mental Strength

    Featured photo credit: Tim Marshall via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dan Matthews, CPRP

    A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2021

    What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

    What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive

    In order for you to change your life, you must first change the way you think. If you are new to self-improvement, this is something that you must understand. Looking back at the various figures who have made dramatic changes in their life, there was a point where they had to shift toward positive thinking.

    This concept isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface. Much like any habit, there are particular ways to go about tapping into the power of positive thinking and to be thinking positively on a daily basis.

    What Is Positive Thinking?

    Positive thinking is precisely what it says. It’s a series of habits and thought patterns that make you see things in a more positive light. One common example is seeing the failures you experience as lessons and opportunities to grow.

    Positive thinking encompasses a number of things and impacts our lives in big ways. Positive thinking can create changes such as:

    • The way you talk to people both online and in person.
    • The people you attract.
    • How you inspire and encourage other people both directly and indirectly.
    • Your productivity methods and overall working capabilities.
    • Your stress level and how you manage it.

    From this description, you can say that thinking positive is much like a lifestyle. The more positive you are, the more good things will appear around you, even in situations where you experience setbacks or challenges.

    Another way to look at positive thinking is the addition of good thinking habits replacing bad ones. For example, how many times have you said “I can’t do that task” or “I’ll never achieve this goal of mine”? By definition, thinking this way will guarantee that you’ll avoid that task and put less effort toward that goal. On the other hand, by thinking “I can do that task” or “Someday, I’ll achieve that goal,” you’ll be motivated to work towards those objectives.

    How Does Positive Thinking Change Your Life?

    For those who have been in the self-improvement world, you can tell from the points above how your life can be impacted. Things like improved productivity, being more approachable, and more can create ripple effects throughout your life.

    Getting into more details, these things can translate to larger things in your life. Some changes that positive thinking will do to your life are things like:

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    • Being able to achieve goals consistently when you set them.
    • A dramatic change in your attitude.
    • Using money in a more intelligent manner to the point you’ll be earning more.
    • Having more like-minded friends.
    • Being more generous and kind to others.
    • Living a longer life.[1]

    Positive thinking from this viewpoint can sound like it’s too good to be true, though this is no simple task. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch, and suddenly you’ve learned how to think positive. That said, these are good incentives to be working towards, and there is research behind these things being true.

    How to Tackle Negative Thoughts

    Another key aspect to positive thinking is that positive thinking isn’t about eliminating all negativity from your life[2]. Our lives do have negative events; you’ll make mistakes, fail, and have setbacks. However, it’s important that you strike a balance between being aware of reality and accepting your surroundings and thinking optimistically.

    There is no right or wrong method to pick from, but being able to limit negative self-talk in various areas of your life comes down to a few simple techniques. Here are some examples.

    Follow a Precise Guide to Cultivating a Positive Mindset

    The guide involves looking for feedback, paying attention to your thought patterns, and rearranging them to accept negative emotions. Other guides will bring you through the process by getting you to believe you can change your attitude all the way to avoiding toxic positivity.

    Learn About Your Thinking Style

    Are you a logical thinker or an emotional one? Do you focus on the short-term or the long-term? Do you naturally sway toward the positive or the negative? Identifying all of these things can help you get a handle on how your mind naturally works before you go about changing it.

    One way to tap into your thinking style is to learn about how you are motivated. Check out Lifehack’s Free Assessment: What’s Your Motivation Style? One you know your motivation style, you’ll begin to understand yourself and how you think on a daily basis.

    Create a Curiosity Around Negative Thoughts

    Looking at negative thoughts as something interesting instead of as something damaging is a good step toward giving them less power. When a negative thought comes around, try writing it down and contemplating it for a few moments.

    Why did that thought come about, and why are you looking at that particular thing in a negative way? How can you change that thought into something positive?

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    10 Simple Habits to Practice Positive Thinking

    The methods mentioned above are ways to nullify the impact of negative thoughts. There will be times where you will still think negatively, but the impact will lessen. This is especially true when you incorporate various habits into your life to improve your positive thinking.

    Here are some things to consider to help you cultivate a positive mindset.

    1. Do One Act of Kindness Daily

    Making someone smile has as much of an impact on them as it does for you. Doing good things feels good, which is why many of us feel compelled to make donations to non-profit organizations. The act of charity warms our hearts.

    But you can make more of an impact by doing something nice for someone else. Smile and say hello to someone, give someone a compliment, or help them out in a small way if you see them having issues.

    2. Laugh More

    Along a similar vein, positive emotions cause us to shift our attitude, and laughter is another big one to consider. Laughter shouldn’t be forced though, so make a point of being around people who can make you genuinely laugh. This can be a comedian, a friend or family member, or anyone who can get you to chuckle.

    3. Read More Positive Material

    Our social media diet is one of the largest influencers of our mood. That, along with television or other video content. If you’re watching or reading content that makes you angry, negative, or hateful, that behavior is going to project onto everything else you do and get in the way of positive thinking.

    To change that, you must change how you are consuming content and what you gravitate toward. Make a point of reading some positive news and developments. Another option is to read or watch videos that focus on things that you’re passionate about.

    4. Set Goals

    Another solid method is to set goals and work to achieve them. This can tackle a lot of negative thoughts as people often set goals and give up due to negative thoughts most of the time.

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    Setting goals and striving to achieve them on a regular basis allows you to build the framework to overcome those negative thought hurdles. You’ll eventually stop making excuses and focus on the task at hand.

    5. Have a Strong Morning Ritual

    In general, what you do first thing in the morning determines the energy you put toward the rest of your day. We all have our usual routine in the morning, and many times that routine doesn’t put people in a space that’s conducive to positive thinking.

    My recommendation is to mix up your morning ritual to include some positive things. Examples are doing some exercises, showing yourself some self-love through gratitude and positive affirmations, or maybe doing something you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or writing a poem.

    6. Ask the Proper Questions

    Negativity is something that we have to accept, but how we change the impact of it can be through questions. The catch is that you need to be asking the right kind of questions first.

    For example, if you’re a pessimist, the questions you’ll be asking yourself are negative. “Why did this happen to me?” “Why do bad things happen to me whenever I try something?” These are negative because you’re painting yourself as a victim, and it does nothing for your mindset but slow you down.

    Instead, start asking questions like:

    • What’s one good thing about this situation?
    • What is it that I can learn from these events and circumstances?
    • What is one small thing I can do right now to start fixing this?

    By asking these questions, you’ll start to give your brain some tasks to ponder over to solve this situation and gain something from these experiences.

    7. Create a Positive Environment

    Consuming positive content is one way of creating a positive environment, but there are other things that can influence it. In general, creating an environment where you can be positive is key to development. This means:

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    • Do the things that bring joy and energy into your life.
    • Be around positive people who lift you up.
    • Continue to strengthen that environment by reinforcing standards for what’s acceptable for you and what isn’t.

    8. Meditate

    Meditation is another morning activity to consider and one to do overall if you want to practice positive thinking. Meditation provides a number of benefits when done on a regular basis.

    Meditation provides you with an opportunity to look inside yourself and see what makes you tick. It helps you to look at thought patterns and to begin rearranging them. It’s a powerful method because it adds perspective to who you really are and what you truly think[3].

    From there you can make drastic changes by simply meditating.

    9. Write Down Your Thoughts and Tackle the Issues

    Similar to meditating, consider jotting down the thoughts that come to mind whenever you feel stressed. During these periods, you’ll see that when you’re stressed, you’ll be writing down things that cause you to feel stressed. It could be something extreme, or it could be a series of small things you need to do that have piled up.

    The idea is to write out those thoughts and the next day begin working on fixing those problems to make room for a more positive outlook.

    10. Read Positive Thinking Books

    The last method to boosting positive thinking is to be reading more books on the subject. Positive thinking is a subject that has been researched heavily, and there is a lot of information on it. You’ll find a lot of it overlapping or having similar elements, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few books and read what the author has to say on the subject.

    While reading articles is great, a book has more room to add more details and perspectives that aren’t otherwise there when reading an article.

    Final Thoughts

    Positive thinking is not something that can be done overnight. It’s something that takes time as it involves rewiring your very way of thinking and reinforcing habits. It’s not an easy path, but it can lead to many avenues opening up to you in various ways. The road to success and to great change is through a positive and developing mindset for better physical and mental health.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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