Have you ever felt like something was holding you back, preventing you from reaching your true potential?
You're not alone.
ALL of us have limiting beliefs, and the wise among us uncover and dissolve them before they keep us from reaching our goals.
What is a Limiting Belief?
Limiting beliefs are those self-imposed, negative internal thoughts that act as barriers to our success and personal growth.
They're like mental roadblocks, designed to restrict us and keep us from realizing our full potential.
Limiting beliefs encourage us to see things as an 'either/or,' such as you're either a good writer or you're not. They don't allow for 'and' or 'but', such as "you might not have enjoyed writing in the past, but taking a class now that you're an adult might show you otherwise."
The first step in overcoming limiting beliefs is understanding what they are and acknowledging that everyone has some form of them and probably doesn't realize it.
The Origin of Limiting Beliefs
Many of our limiting beliefs stem from our past, often going back to our childhood. Our family, education, societal norms, and our personal conditioning can influence these beliefs.
Maybe you were told, "It's okay that you didn't make the basketball team. Getting good grades is your strength anyway" when you were in junior high. Then later in life, you find yourself saying, "I'm not athletic" as an excuse to not go to the gym.
The catch is that we often accept these beliefs as truths, even when they are far from reality, limiting ourselves in the process.
The Impact of Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs can have a far-reaching impact on our lives. They affect us personally and professionally, and the relationships that we have with others AND ourselves.
Limiting beliefs are tricky though, because they've been running in the background of our thoughts for so long that we no longer know they are there.
We've adopted them as our truths and never think to question them.
So how do you know when you have a limiting belief? When you aren't getting the results you want. Limiting beliefs often lead to self-sabotage, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled potential.
Recognizing and Confronting Limiting Beliefs
One of the first steps in conquering limiting beliefs is self-awareness. Become a "thought watcher" and get curious about your thought patterns and the excuses they provide for avoiding challenges.
Another thing you can do is take the limiting belief and reframe it into a powerful thought. The old "I'm not an athlete" can become "I become a little more fit every day."
Finally, if you are unable to uncover your limiting beliefs, seek the support of a coach. Coaches are trained to uncover those unhelpful thoughts that are running around unsupervised in your head. They know what to look for and can help you reframe them.
Top Five Common Limiting Beliefs
Here are the five most common limiting beliefs that I have seen with the clients I work with and from my observations:
"I'm not good enough": Imposter syndrome is one of the main things where I see new entrepreneurs struggle, but it can affect all of us. Not feeling worthy enough, smart enough, good enough, experienced enough, or ___ enough is an excuse that leads to self-sabotage, and unhealthy comparisons.
"I'm too old": There is no expiration date on what you are capable of achieving, other than death. "I'm too old" is a popular limiting belief and excuse that keeps people from leaving their Comfort Cave. There are plenty of 70- and 80-somethings out there doing amazing things. I plan to be one of them someday. Join me!
"I have to do it perfectly": Perfectionism can result in procrastination because we keep putting off starting out of fear that we won't do it right. We may delay pressing 'publish' or sharing our product out of fear that others might judge us as being less than perfect. This leads to missed opportunities and broken dreams.
"Rejection is all about me": Thinking that when someone tells you "no", they are rejecting you personally is what keeps a lot of people from asking for the sale. The truth is that hearing 'no' is usually about the other person's lack of willingness to commit to finding the resources or the will.
"I don't have enough___": Finish this statement with a word like time, money, support, education, help, etc. The truth is that it's not about not having enough. It's about prioritizing what we do with what we have. Spending two hours watching Netflix on the sofa and then saying that you don't have time for exercise is a mixup of priorities if you are using "I don't have time to exercise" as an excuse.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
Breaking free from the clutches of limiting beliefs requires recognizing and challenging them.
You don't have to be a prisoner of your limiting beliefs.
By understanding and challenging them, you can change the narrative and unlock a world of possibilities.
Jen Laffin is a Success Mentor for entrepreneurs, a master teacher, host of The Flight School Podcast, a possible thinker, and a recovering procrastinator. She teaches small business owners how to show up so that they can level up their businesses. To learn more, visit www.jenlaffin.com, or find Jen on Linkedin and Instagram.