We create our beliefs based on the way we see the world. Some beliefs are enabling and functional. Others limit our potential. Largely, our beliefs determine our success and happiness in life.
So what is a belief? And what are self-limiting beliefs?
A belief is our mental frame of reference about ourselves and the world around us that we hold as ‘our truth.’ Our beliefs are formed during our upbringing, and reflect our values and experiences. They are deeply held over a lifetime.
Self-limiting beliefs are those things that we believe to be true about our self that hold us back from pursuing the goals in our life, and reaching our full potential.
Examples of self-limiting beliefs are:
• I’m not smart enough/Too many people are smarter than me
• Ι lack relevant experience
• I could never do that
• I lack sufficient formal education
• I don’t have the confidence to do that
• I don’t have enough skills or talent
• I don’t have what it takes to succeed
• Taking risks always turns out bad for me
• The way I have operated in the past works well enough
• Successful people are just lucky
Self-limiting beliefs are deeply ingrained beliefs that come from events from our childhood or when we were teenagers. We listened to our family, teachers or friends, and were infected by their beliefs and limitations. Our faulty logic interpreted a situation, event or a conversation that fits with our ‘reality’ of our self esteem. We carry these around, whether they are true and ‘fit’ the current situation, or not.
There is a saying that whatever you believe becomes your reality. We have all had situations where our interpretation of the same situation may be different from another party’s. You perceive what you believe, and act within this framework. This will determine the outcomes of the situation.
For example, a situation where an individual was waiting for a business telephone call-back regarding an opportunity in the marketplace. At the designated time, the business person did not call. The person’s mind went into overdrive saying things like, ‘he won’t call back as the opportunity is too good to be true.’
How do we break free or limit the self-limiting belief? We must first be aware of it through self understanding. Self-limiting beliefs are lurking in the background of our thoughts and behaviour. And, we carry them around like unwanted guests who have overstayed their welcome. We also need to identify the self limiting belief in a situation or conversation that takes place in our mind.
Next, the self-limiting belief needs to be challenged and reframed into a realistic or positive thought and behaviour.
Take the following examples: It’s hard to get a job, making money is a struggle, or I don’t deserve to work in my dream job. These can instead be reframed as: I have marketable skills and experiences that are an asset, I have the ability to make money with support and resources, and I will find the job that suits my capabilities where I can apply myself.
Referring to the example, the individual emailed the business person and confirmed the 10am telephone meeting. He replied that he believed that it was not scheduled for a particular time during the day. Although the company would not go ahead with the proposal, he was willing to consider additional strategies – the door was still open.
The best way to reduce or overcome self-limiting beliefs is to aim to gain self knowledge to recognise just what the self limiting belief is, and when it is polluting your response. Make a list of some beliefs that you hold about yourself and the world that you have come to accept as your reality. Then, challenge these beliefs and reframe them to a positive response.
You may want to find the source of the self limiting belief and how you reached this conclusion. To assist you, you may engage a counsellor to work it through with you. For example, I reached the conclusion ‘It’s hard to get a job,’ when as a child I saw my parents as migrants struggle to find work at their level, and to pay the bills. I carried this picture for many years.
A few more tips for overcoming self-limiting beliefs:
- Believe in yourself, and in the other person. It will go a long way to build positive and functional self talk and behaviour.
- Surround yourself with positive people who can support you with the new belief and your goals. You will feel better about yourself. Your thought patterns will be re-programmed into being positive and seeing the world in a new light.
- Invest in your personal development. Buy books, read articles, listen to webinars. Practice positive self talk and affirmations – every day!
- Visualise the life that you want. Believe in the power of your goals and your ability to reach them.
‘I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.’ Good luck in your journey.
This story originally appeared on Women’s Agenda.