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Published on January 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. Curiosity likely took you to places you wouldn’t dare go now and at times, you probably threw caution to the wind.

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 limiting yourself and maybe 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 feel 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 limited 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 authorities who 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 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.

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If you look closely at your toxic behaviors, you might discover that the underlying cause is limiting beliefs.

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 Them

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 of your home.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 is another tangible way to 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.[7]

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 October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

Reference

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