The best definition I could find for limiting beliefs are those beliefs which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or take action on the things that they refer to.
Now, let me start this post by sharing some of the limiting beliefs that I’ve struggled with myself.
I’m overweight, it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
Some of the lies that I told myself were that “I’ll never be able to lose weight because my parents are both heavy!” or “Its OK to eat eat an entire large pizza and a sandwich, and dessert because I’m drinking a diet Pepsi!”
In this sort of situation, asking yourself questions will help you bring limiting beliefs out in the open.
So, I’ve asked myself,
Are these the results I’ve produced in the various areas of my life?
Where are these results not in alignment with that I really want to be, do or have?
The answer to these questions are easy.
Yes, I’ve put myself here and No, this is not at all what I really want to be.
Is there an area of your life where you have really tried to improve but, no matter what, things just didn’t get better?
Limiting beliefs are hiding out in the areas where we’re producing results that we don’t want.
Limiting beliefs have shaped everything we do. They have prevented us from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged us from trying at all.
It’s time to bring them out of hiding! Once we do that, we have choices.
So how do we identify limiting beliefs?
First, what do we say to ourselves about that particular area in our life?
For example, something I used to say was, “Women are shallow and only want men with money and six-pack abs”
Anything you say to yourself to justify why things aren’t working out for you, is a limiting belief.
Did that belief sound true to me?
Of course it did!
It will sound perfectly reasonable and valid and, if you’re like me, you can probably come up with a ton of evidence supporting it!
But it’s still a belief that is getting in the way of what we want.
So unless we’re willing to totally give up on our goals and desires, we cant keep these limiting beliefs around.
Sometimes limiting beliefs are not conscious thoughts.
Let me give you another example, when I had financial problems and almost had my house go into foreclosure, it made me completely Anxious, Angry and almost Hopeless.
If I had examined those emotions at the time, I might have found the limiting beliefs behind them.
For example, anxiety was saying, “What will people think of me?”
Anger was screaming “Life isn’t fair to people like me.”
Underneath hopelessness was the thought, “I’m just not strong or smart enough to figure this out.”
If you drag limiting beliefs out of the background, you can figure out what to do with them.
Now, let’s fast-forward to present day.
In the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) I teach my clients, we use several specific processes to unearth and eliminate limiting beliefs. I can’t teach them fully in this post, but I will share some steps to get you started:
First, write the limiting belief down.
Play detective and follow your thoughts and emotions to discover the limiting beliefs that hold you back. Put them on paper and stare them in the face! You might note how strong each belief is and what emotions they elicit in you.
Next, acknowledge that these are beliefs, not truths!
This is often the hardest step. Here’s the place where choice comes in.
Which are you more interested in, defending your limitations to the death or achieving your goals and desires?
Once you’ve done that, substitute a different belief.
Use your imagination and try out a belief that is aligned with what you want.
It might be something like, “My financial difficulties in the past have taught me so much that I’m fully prepared to handle them now!” Or, “Now that I’ve been in an unhealthy relationship, I’ve learned what to look for in a happy, loving partner!”
The trick is to go beyond just saying it. You want to really step into this new belief and feel how it feels.
Done thoroughly, those last 2 steps will go a long way to dismantling your old limiting beliefs.
Finally, take new, different actions.
This might feel scary, but act as if your new belief is true. In other words, if you really are the kind of man women adore, how would you act at parties? Who might you ask out?
If you really are capable and have learned a tremendous amount from past financial difficulties, what steps would you take?
If you really are the kind of person who eats healthy food, what will you put in your grocery cart?
If you avoid taking steps or actions based on your new belief, you will just feed your old limiting belief.
Taking action, even the smallest step, will help solidify your new healthy belief. Your first steps don’t have to be perfect, they just need to be headed in the right direction.
Then, be sure to acknowledge yourself when you’ve taken those steps or actions.
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Try discovering and changing your limiting beliefs and see how much better your life will be.
Have a great day!