Ah, self-limiting beliefs, aren’t they irritating? When you think of the human mind, it’s hard not to be amazed. It is capable of producing 50,000 thoughts in one single day. This is fantastic news if every one of those is a positive, life aspiring notion flowing effortlessly through your cerebrum, but what if they’re not? What if they’re constant reminders of doubt, negativity and made-up illusions that you’re just not good enough? You’ve probably heard of the saying “you are what you eat”, well, maybe, just maybe, you are as much the product of what you think too. It makes sense that as a parent, you would want to shower your child with constant words of encouragement so that they are empowered to achieve precisely what they want in life. After all, it’s a massive part of the process of parenthood. Why, then, do so many of us not afford ourselves the same courtesy in our adult lives?
According to Forbes, ninety-five per cent of thoughts are repeated daily, and over time, these thoughts evolve into beliefs that fuel our actions and reality. Negative beliefs are usually the brains way of protecting ourselves from unknown challenges, threats and predicted failures. Our bodies’ psychological response to shielding us from harm is part of our fight or flight system. We’ve all done something outside of our comfort zone and heard that little voice whisper, “oh, I can’t do that”, or “I’m not clever enough to be considered for that”. Instead of protecting us, these self-limiting beliefs do the complete opposite; they stop us from experiencing new things and hinder our growth and ability to achieve goals. In essence, they chastise us from being who we want, who we can be and who we need to be.
EXAMPLES OF SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
The list of self-limiting beliefs is endless. So much so that we even had self-limiting beliefs about creating a list of self-limiting beliefs; how ironic is that? So, to avoid disappointment, here are just a few that we thought of, and perhaps that you have experienced too.
- I’m not fit enough
- I’m not clever enough
- I’m not sporty enough
- I’m too old or too young
- I don’t have anything interesting to say
- I don’t have enough money
- I will never be rich
- All wealthy people are bad
- I’m not worthy of love
- I’ll always be single
- Relationships always hurt me
- I’m not skilled enough for that job
- I’m not experienced enough for that job
- It’s too late to change careers now
- I’m not good at interviews
- I wouldn’t get that job, so that I won’t apply
- I don’t have a business brain
WHERE DO SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS COME FROM?
It may or may not be a surprise to learn that we are not born with self-limiting beliefs; we develop them. We soak up a range of emotions and behaviours like a giant sponge during our formative childhood years. The trouble is, unlike the sponge you use to clean the dishes, this one isn’t always that useful. Sure, we pick up many positive behaviours during our youth, like knowing how to walk, talk, and feed ourselves, but the effects aren’t always beneficial when it comes to self-limiting beliefs. Academics the world over agree that experience influences perception, and the emotion attached to experiences when we are younger can affect how we think in later years. For example, a child who is shown love, affection, and encouragement will likely go on to feel loved and worthy when they grow up. In contrast, a neglected child may struggle with feelings of doubt, a lack of confidence and general thoughts of inferiority.
This issue isn’t just isolated to our childhood either; it is easy to develop new self-limiting beliefs as we age within our professional and personal lives. Perhaps you applied for the job of your dreams and didn’t get called for an interview, you asked the office hottie out on a date only to have your advances rejected, or maybe you once attempted to start a business, but it failed. All of these events can fuel feelings of self-doubt, which will, in turn, develop into self-limiting beliefs.This issue isn’t just isolated to our childhood either; it is easy to develop new self-limiting beliefs as we age within our professional and personal lives. Perhaps you applied for the job of your dreams and didn’t get called for an interview, you asked the office hottie out on a date only to have your advances rejected, or maybe you once attempted to start a business, but it failed. All of these events can fuel feelings of self-doubt, which will, in turn, develop into self-limiting beliefs.
Individual perception can also inform the way we see and react to the world. Perhaps you are at a networking event, and you spot the boss of a company you’ve always dreamt of working for. You decide to head over to introduce yourself, only to find that they make an excuse not to talk to you and walk away. You may immediately assume that they don’t want to chat and think you are boring. As a result, you decide never to try to approach them again and shy away from attending any future networking events.
THE DANGER OF SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
It’s all in the name. Self-limiting beliefs are self-limiting. They can stop you from reaching your true potential and taking advantage of the possibilities of life. Pretty deep stuff, right? Well, it’s true. The job seeker who got turned down for that one job may never try to climb the corporate ladder because they think “they’re not good enough”. The girl who got rejected by the office hottie may no longer seek a companion because they believe they are “unworthy of love”. Likewise, the entrepreneur whose business didn’t get off the ground may never realise that their next idea could have turned into the next fortune 500 company.
As outsiders, we can see that these self-limiting beliefs can be irrational. What if the first business idea wasn’t a success because it just wasn’t the right time? Or the office hottie liked you but was still too hurt from a recent break-up to agree to your date? Maybe the job seeker was turned down because the position was filled internally, and the external interviews were a mere HR formality? It’s impossible to say, but one sure thing is that if we always listen to self-limiting beliefs, we’ll always stay firmly in our comfort zones.
HOW TO RECOVER FROM SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
The first thing to understand is those self-limiting beliefs are normal; there’s nothing wrong with you; we all have them. Even some of the world’s most successful people have admitted to falling foul to their innermost negative thoughts, including musician David Bowie, comedian Russel Brand and philanthropist Melinda Gates. What sets us apart, however, is how we choose to respond to them.
The first stage of the process involves identifying the beliefs and acknowledging their existence. Talking with someone who can be impartial, such as David Wyatt, can help this. David is a business mentor and life coach and is uniquely positioned to listen, ask objective questions and provide advice with a different point of view.
David can help you understand the thoughts and emotions attached to these beliefs and the reason you hold them. Perhaps they are the result of a childhood experience or something more recent, either way, David can ask questions such as:
- Does my belief make any sense?
- Is it true?
- Was there a time when I didn’t believe this, and what happened?
- How is this belief helping or hindering my growth now?
- If I were someone else, would I still have this belief?
- If I didn’t have this belief, what would I have done differently?
- If someone else had this belief, what would I tell them?
- What will or will not happen if I keep believing this?
The final part of the process is reframing the self-limiting belief so that you start to think of similar situations differently. David Wyatt can help you turn “I’m terrible at interviews” into “I didn’t perform well in my last interview because I wasn’t feeling too well. Next time, I will be more prepared”.
Or “The guy at the networking event didn’t want to talk to me, I’m boring” into “The guy at the networking event may have been tired. I’ll reach out to him by e-mail to organise a more convenient time to chat”.
And “My first business flopped, I’m just too dumb to be an entrepreneur” into “I hadn’t done my market research last time, but next time I will learn from my mistakes and ensure there’s a gap in the market before launching”.
If you have self-limiting beliefs, the first thing to do is not worry; they are entirely normal. However, what is essential is to ensure they do not take over your life, or more importantly, stop you from living the life you are more than capable of living. Be under no illusion that overcoming a self-limiting belief isn’t easy; it’s a process that takes a lot of time and hard work, but the investment is truly life changing. With the support of a business mentor and life coach such as David Wyatt, you could be taking the first step to living the life you truly deserve.
Finally, remember this quote from the author Anthony Robbins:
“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean”.
Are you ready to transform your life and self-limiting beliefs? Contact David Wyatt today!