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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.

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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 February 25, 2020

11 Killer Ways to Gain Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem

11 Killer Ways to Gain Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem

Have you ever been making great progress only to get stuck and find your confidence disappears? Or perhaps you’ve achieved a big success that’s been quickly followed by a crash of confidence? Or maybe your confidence just evaporates away slowly over time?

Regardless of how robust we might appear on the outside, we are all vulnerable. We can be especially vulnerable when we’re ambitious and striving to achieve big goals.

Our confidence can easily be knocked by a passing comment from a friend or colleague. Or when we’re working hard to deliver a project quickly or make a change happen and are faced with blockers and negativity. I’ve also known confidence to disappear for no apparent reason. That’s why knowing practical tips for how to gain confidence is a crucial skill.

Then there’s the critical voice in your head that tells you ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you’re going to get found out’. The little voice nags away, becomes louder, more insistent and more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know, and stop pushing forward and getting things done fast because it feels safer to stand still. Only when you stand still does the nagging voice stop chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem.

It turns out that the little nagging voice is a thing. It’s called Imposter Syndrome. It’s a term first coined in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance, and Suzanne Imes.[1] It describes the psychological phenomenon which is characterized by intense feelings of not being good enough, negativity, being a fraud and that you are going to get found out – even though all the evidence suggests otherwise.

Gaining your confidence back once the little nagging voice takes hold is hard. I see it like this. Every day, you have a bucket of confidence. Every time you get push back from someone, every time you get a negative comment, or even a disparaging look from the right person, a little bit of your confidence leaks away.

To gain your confidence and increase your self-esteem, you have to put habits in place to keep your confidence bucket full. Every day. I don’t believe that some people have confidence and others don’t. It’s simply that successful people are more accomplished at managing their feelings of self-doubt and silencing that little internal voice before it has a chance to jeopardize them.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh

Gaining confidence is about keeping your bucket topped up on a daily basis. Here are 11 tips to gain confidence and really boost your self-esteem:

1. Log Your Achievements

Get yourself a physical notebook or create an online file and log your achievements. Log them all, especially the small ones because they add up.

Keep the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a friend, the well done, good job email from a manager, or the time your colleagues went the extra mile for you.

Write them down. Writing them down helps you to acknowledge them, which makes you feel good.

In addition, seeing your achievements written down helps you realize how far you’ve come, the positive impact you have every day and how much you’ve achieved overall. Instead of your ‘to do’ list – it’s your ‘I did it!’ list.

2. Call out Your Imposter Syndrome

It’s actually rather common. 70% of people have had feelings of being inadequate and getting found out at one time or another.

When that little nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and anything good that happens to you is luck – call it out. For example, acknowledge that it’s happening and disconnect that annoying voice from the real you and tell it to shut up.

Your task is to find your own way to change the negative story that your inner critic is telling you. Look for evidence to prove what your inner critic is saying is wrong. For example, if you think that you’re a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I’m a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I’m a failure?”

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3. Become a Mentor

Being a mentor isn’t just for very senior and experienced people, there’s always someone that you can help.

Helping someone else can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll also realize how much value you can bring to others which in turn can help you to gain confidence.

Many industries have some form of mentor programme or scheme. If yours doesn’t, why not just go for it and put yourself out there? For example, you could post on your intranet or on LinkedIn that you are looking to mentor someone.

4. Accept Compliments

If someone says to you, ‘great job,’ or ‘you look wonderful’ or ‘well done excellent event,’ do you say ‘thank you’ and feel good or do you shy away and give someone else credit?

If you shy away from compliments, then stop. Own it and feel good about it. Next time someone pays you a compliment, smile, say thank you and own the good feeling that goes with that acceptance. (And note it in your achievements log!)

5. Fake It Until You Make It

How you look and behave and how you feel are closely linked. Dress like you mean success.

If you turn up to the office or a meeting looking smart (and smart will mean different things in different contexts), you’re perceived differently than if you turn up looking ready for a casual Sunday afternoon.

I used to work with someone who always wore a suit to work because they were always ready to step up and impress. One day, he had to stand in for his boss at a board meeting. He wouldn’t have been given the opportunity if he hadn’t been dressed for it.

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In addition to what you wear, to gain confidence, notice your body language and stand tall, smile and speak slowly.

6. Ask Why

Get to the root cause of your lack of confidence by asking ‘Why?’ ‘What is causing it?’ When you have identified the ‘why?’ you can start to tackle it.

Often, lack of confidence connects to a lack of or perceived lack of knowledge, so stop focusing on what you don’t know. Concentrate on the things you do know and the value you bring if you want to gain confidence.

7. Look after Yourself

Looking after yourself helps you gain confidence. It’s fundamental to success. Make sure you get more than enough sleep, do regular exercise and eat healthy food. Make it a habit.

If you feel good, you gain confidence, which inspires you to look after yourself and you create a positive cycle.

8. Be Kind and Generous

Being kind and generous to others makes us feel good; and feeling good helps us to gain confidence.

Linked to this, focus on being grateful for what you have and what has gone well that day. I’d suggest that you start by writing down the things you are grateful for every day and make a deliberate effort to be kind and generous to others at every opportunity. And again, over time this becomes a habit.

9. Be Prepared

The more you practice, the more successful you get. Funny isn’t it?

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Gaining confidence is borne out of practice. Be prepared, practice the presentation, read the meeting minutes, research the person you are meeting.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the practice required to be the master of your skill being 10,000 hours. So start putting the hours in and you will gain confidence.

10. Visualize Your Success

Skip forward to when you have achieved success. Play it out in your mind. The applause and how you feel after that excellent presentation, the phone call after a successful job interview or fitting into those smaller jeans.

Choose a positive mindset and visualize what you are aiming for. Tell someone else about your goal. As well as helping you to gain confidence, focusing on your success AND telling someone else holds you accountable which means it’s more likely to happen.

11. Get Yourself a Positive Affirmation

Tell yourself that you can do this. Whether you look in the mirror and tell yourself that you ‘can do this’ ‘are amazing’ or ‘going to rock it today,’ find your positive phrase to tell yourself every day to keep your confidence bucket topped up.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

And finally, conquer the knowing-doing gap. You’ve now got a stack of practical tactics to gain confidence and boost your self-esteem. Every action you take will add up but it starts with you.

If you want to gain success, take action today. Let me know how you get on!

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More Tips for Boosting Confidence

Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

Reference

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