Why is it that some people are so successful and others are not? Sure there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that put others ahead but there are also those who seem to beat the odds. The majority of the time, it comes down to mindset. We can only achieve what we believe. Limiting beliefs are thoughts, opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth. They tend to have a negative impact on one’s life by stopping them from moving forward and growing on a personal and professional level.
Examples are: “I’m bad with money”, “Every time I try and change, I fail”, “Work isn’t meant to be a joy”. These are just thoughts, and through continued affirmations they became beliefs. Our tendency to interpret new information as confirmation of our pre-existing beliefs is called confirmation bias, which means that we often believe what we want to believe.
Everyone has the potential to achieve great things, no matter their circumstances. But fear often holds up back, we tell ourselves stories, play it safe and only end up living half a life. We create stress and internal conflict by holding ourselves back from our true calling. When we change our stories to create a new truth about who we really are, then we start to feel happy and fulfilled. But why and how does this occur?
How Self-belief originates
Up until the age of seven, we operate in brain wavelengths that closely resemble a hypnotic state, according to Dr Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief. This is where most of our limiting beliefs are formed. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying kids are like sponges? They soak up and record everything around them including “bad” and “good” behaviours and emotions.
When a child is treated with love and made to feel wanted, this turns into the belief that they are valued. Contrary to that, if a child is neglected or abused they will grow up with the belief that they are unwanted and undeserving. These will become their limiting beliefs. If you’ve ever heard that little voice in your head telling you can’t be or do something, that’s a limiting belief. Those thoughts are exactly that, just thoughts. They are not realities.
As humans, we are constantly aiming to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. This includes avoiding negative emotions like frustration, anxiety, anger etc. Limiting beliefs act as a defence mechanism to avoid these emotions. Often they are triggered by situations where you have experienced suffering in the past. You change your behaviour because your subconscious is trying to prevent this. It often ends, ironically in other negative outcomes such as procrastination, imposter syndrome, overthinking etc.
How to Take Back Control of Your Limiting Beliefs
- If you find yourself feeling fearful or resisting an activity, stop and be aware. You’re currently in a state of ‘low mood’ thinking.
- Write it down! What is it that you think you cannot do? Try and identify exactly why you are feeling that way. Understand that what you are thinking is not necessarily true.
- Look for evidence. Why aren’t you able to achieve XYZ? Are these legitimate reasons or just excuses? Are you able to overcome these? Is it just difficult and you are not willing to? That is also ok but it doesn’t mean you can’t.
- Be accountable. Thoughts and feelings come and go, they are not that truth about who you are. There are plenty of tools to help you combat negative emotions like stress and anxiety, use them! A brain is a powerful tool, you are in control of a lot more than you think (limiting belief). Breathe and recentre.
- Talk it out! As the saying goes, friends are better than therapy. If you find yourself having limiting beliefs, I’m sure your friends or family would be shocked to hear what you think about yourself. Find someone you trust to share your thoughts.
Of course, changing a belief doesn’t automatically result in changed behaviour, you still have to do the work. For example, change “I’m not good with money.” to “In the past, I haven’t been good with money but I am working towards changing my spending habits.” or “I am learning how to be financially responsible.” Take one step at a time.
“The quality of your thoughts creates the quality of your life.”
If you want to change your life, something needs to change! Create new empowering beliefs to enable you to achieve much more than you originally thought possible. If you tell yourself “I can’t” or “that’s not possible”, ask yourself WHY 5 times to get to the route of that belief. It may not be possible to the extent or exactly how you picture it but I assure you, nothing is impossible.
Create a new mindset and a new narrative, become confident and courageous, what have you got to lose?