Limiting beliefs are the negative things we tell ourselves that stop us from trying things and ultimately limit our personal development.
We often accept a belief to be true based on our experiences and assumptions rather than facts.
One of the most challenging parts about limiting beliefs is that they are often subconscious, so we don’t recognise we have them until someone them out.
Examples of Limiting Beliefs
Here are a few examples of some of the most common limiting beliefs I hear from my clients and other people in my daily life:
- I keep getting really angry and don’t know why.
- I’ve tried that in the past, and it doesn’t work.
- My work life makes it impossible to find any balance.
- I’ve tried everything and don’t know what to do now.
- I don’t get on very well with people.
- I’m not very good with authority.
- I just can’t control my anxiety.
The Power of Limiting Beliefs
I first learnt about limiting beliefs when I was studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and it turned out to be quite a big personal breakthrough for me.
You see, our beliefs (positive and negative) make up what’s called our belief system which ultimately influences our identity as human beings.
For example, if you believe you’re a shy person who doesn’t get on very well with people, that limiting belief will significantly impact your entire life.
And the thing is, most people know these limiting beliefs aren’t true but continue to say them because they feel like it’s part of their identity.
How to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
The best way to identify limiting beliefs is to ask yourself questions.
For example, you could ask yourself a list of ‘Are you good’, questions such as:
- Are you a good person?
- Are you a good parent?
- Are you a good leader?
- Are you a good colleague?
- Are you good at selling?
- Are you good at learning?
- Are you good at driving?
Before coming up with a list of questions, asking yourself what areas of your life or career you feel you need to improve most can be helpful.
For example, you might feel like you want to improve your conflict management skills so you should ask yourself the question ‘Are you good at dealing with conflict?’
If your answer is anything other than positive, the big question to ask yourself is;
Your limiting belief(s) will almost always be hidden in your answer.
How to Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
Once you uncover your limiting beliefs, you can now begin to question them.
You may find this exercise challenging as some of your beliefs may be deeply embedded in your identity since childhood.
You may also have a belief that has been reinforced multiple times too.
For example, one of my coaching clients once believed she wasn’t suited for a leadership role.
When I asked why, she said she didn’t think she had the right qualities.
And when I asked her to describe her version of a leader, she immediately started talking about a couple of her past leaders who were very controlling and not nice.
She had created a template for what a leader should be based on a past negative experience, which had been reinforced more than once.
Thankfully we were able to correct her belief of what qualities a leader needed and, as a result, remove her limiting beliefs that she was not suited to leadership.
Fact or Fiction
I often get my clients to play a game of ‘Fact or Fiction’ with me to help remove limiting beliefs and to help with general doubts.
It’s a great way of ridding yourself of making decisions based on assumptions.
For example, I once worked with a high-performing senior account executive who felt pressured to always work late.
I found it strange that someone who overperformed consistently would feel this way, so naturally, I had to dig into this and ask her, “Why?”.
“I feel like my boss is staring at me and judging me for leaving on time if he is still there”, she said.
“Okay, so if we were to play a game of fact or fiction, which would that statement come under?”, I asked.
Obviously, her statement was based on fiction as she had no concrete evidence her boss was judging her or thinking anything of the sort.
Maybe he was just looking at her, thinking she was rude for not saying goodbye.
Or maybe he was just daydreaming.
Limiting beliefs can be powerful and destructive and keep you from achieving your goals and dreams.
So many of us go through our days with a fixed mindset based on beliefs from our past experiences that may not necessarily represent reality.
But, by using some of the techniques suggested in this article, you can quickly raise your self-awareness and start working on creating a new reality for yourself.
If you say you can’t, you’re right.
If you say you can, you’re right, too.
Could you or your team benefit from working on your limiting beliefs?
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