Last week I had dinner with a long-time friend. We talked about many things, and then, out of the blue, he pointed out one of my limiting beliefs that I hadn’t been aware of.
A limiting belief is something that you believe about yourself that isn’t true. It holds you back in some way from fully realizing yourself and your life potential. There are many examples of limiting beliefs that people carry around with them through life, such as:
- People will reject the “real me” so I need to hide who I am.
- I’m not smart enough/talented enough to get the job of my dreams.
- If I try “X,” I will fail, and other people will make fun of me.
- I will never be as successful as so-and-so.
- I am too old/too young to try that.
- I will get hurt if I let someone get close to me.
Limiting beliefs can be the result of a learned response from your childhood, something specific to your culture, or even carried over from a past life. We reinforce our limiting beliefs by repeating them over and over again. One of my friends, for example, has been saying that she is too old to do certain things since we were in college. This limiting belief has prevented her from trying many things in her life.
So how do you counter a limiting belief?
- Look for an example of the opposite of what you are telling yourself. And then look for another, and another and so on. So, if your limiting belief is that you are too old to try something, you only need to look to people such as Grandma Moses, who didn’t begin painting until she was 76 years old or Mother Theresa who began her missionary in India when she was 40 or Colonel Sanders who was over 65 years old before he sold his first franchise for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Find as many examples as you can and then post them where you can see them frequently to remind yourself that it is possible.
- Replace the words of your limiting belief with a positive and opposite mantra. Anytime you catch yourself saying your limiting belief, stop and replace the statement with your mantra. So, “people will reject the “real me” so I need to hide who I am” could become “I am a wonderful human being that has unique gifts to share with the world” or “I am the only person like me in the entire Universe – and I share my light with all I meet.”
- Allow yourself to fully feel the impact of your limiting belief. Think about what your life would be like if you lived the limiting belief every day. How does it affect your happiness? Your dreams? Now think about how your life could be if that limiting belief didn’t exist. Do you feel hopeful? Joyful? If you feel fearful or doubtful, don’t worry. They are normal feelings. Ask yourself what you fear or doubt. Really explore this – it will help you begin to release the limiting belief.
- Take action. Whatever your limiting belief is, try something that is in direct contraction to your belief. So, if you believe that you will fail at learning a new language, test the waters by taking a course – even if it is just a 1-hour online “teaser” class. Go in with the attitude that you are going to do your best and succeed. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can do it!
How do you counter your limiting beliefs?