identifying and overcoming limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs! In and of themselves not super fun, but it is super fun to know they exist because that means you can work towards getting rid of them! Limiting beliefs are unconscious thoughts that are holding you back. Did you know that 95% of our thoughts are subconscious. Those ingrained mental habits practically run our lives. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t sign up to live by rules that I set for myself that I may no longer need or agree with.
That’s what happens when you don’t understand and challenge your own limiting beliefs! You’re basically accepting these subconscious thoughts as truth without realizing it. I was so happy to have learned about this concept because it meant I could clean up my thought patterns and decide how I wanted to live my life instead of just letting my limiting beliefs run the show.
What a limiting belief looks like
For example, let’s say Paul is a banker by day but has an awesome side business creating custom skateboards. He loves this work and is really good at it too. But for some reason his business just isn’t taking off the way he wants it to. It’s very possible that he’s got some subconscious beliefs that are holding him back. Maybe it’s that he feels like he’s not good enough to really be successful. Maybe he associates wealth with greed. Maybe he believes you have to have formal training in something to be truly successful at it. Whatever it is, it’s stopping him from getting where he wants to go.
I don’t know about you, but I think that sucks. Holding ourselves back is just such a bummer. I don’t ever want to let my subconscious beliefs get in the way of doing the things I most want to do. So what do we do about these limiting beliefs? How do we move past them?
Identifying the limiting belief
In my experience, this is the most important and liberating part. Sometimes just recognizing a limiting belief can cause it to dissipate. And if not, it gives you something specific to work on. Occasionally I’ll have a light bulb moment where I realize something I’m unnecessarily holding on to, but for the most part identifying limiting beliefs starts with looking at areas in your life where you’re not where you want to be. If you’re having trouble finishing a project, meeting a goal or setting a habit, there’s likely a reason why. Look into what you’re feeling around the subject. Have someone question you about it and see what comes up. Ask yourself where you’re saying “I’m not xxx,” “others will think xxx,” or “I can’t xxx. A few things that have come up for me that I’ve since worked past are beliefs that I’m inherently lazy, that people won’t care to read what I write and that I have to get really successful before I can help people.
Overcoming limiting beliefs
This process isn’t cut and dry and honestly looks different for every person and situation. There are definitely different ways to approach it, but it’s really helpful to start with digging into the why. Ask yourself what it means to you, what your beliefs are about it and what your feelings are around the subject. For me, I had to identify a limiting belief about working for yourself being time-consuming before I could really get started on this blog. The belief that it would be long, hard hours held me back from starting and honestly, just wasn’t and still isn’t the truth (unless you let it be).
Once you identify the belief, where it comes from and what it means to you, you can start actively trying to rewrite it. Basically, you want to find the best way to tell yourself it’s not true. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Create a set of ‘I am’ statements to rewrite your thoughts and repeat them to yourself daily. For example, I am easily and effortlessly creating income in my business.
Writing is more powerful than most people realize. You could write about your feelings on your limiting belief to work through them or write a letter as if the limiting belief didn’t exist (i.e. writing out your ideal scenario).
Focusing on what you want instead of what you’ve got is incredibly helpful. Spend as much time daydreaming about your preferred outcome to your problem as you’d like. This helps rewrite those beliefs and tricks your brain into a new way of thinking.
My personal favorite on the matter. I wrote a whole post on it here, but basically this combines affirmations and energy meridians (similar to acupuncture) to supercharge your mental rehab process. Also, it’s quick and all you have to do is watch a video and repeat after Brad.
My favorite thing these days is to hear someone say something and immediately cut in with “THAT’S A LIMITING BELIEF!” You can’t start a side hustle – limiting belief. Can’t make more money without changing careers – limiting belief. Can’t eat more pie – limiting belief! I’m kidding, but honestly, once you start looking at your thoughts a little more closely, you start to question everything which is exactly the point. Decide what you want your thoughts to be instead of letting them decide for you. Do you want to believe you’re limited or limitless? As Alison says, “it doesn’t serve anyone when you sit around thinking you’re a big piece of crap!”