Overcoming self-limiting beliefs can feel impossible, but that in itself is a limiting belief. Once you realize that the thing holding you back is not your boss or your salary or the system, but your own brain, you can start to solve the problem. I’m going to share how I’ve been working on overcoming my own self-limiting beliefs, and hopefully it will help you a little bit as well.
Does this sound at all familiar to you?
I’ll never get a better job. Why would anyone want to hire me or give me a raise. I’m such an idiot. I have no skills. What’s the point in even applying? I’ve always been a loser, and I always will be.
Or this one.
Look, I’m just going to be alone forever. It’s fine. No one wants to ask me out. Why would they? I’m fat and ugly and clingy and needy and fundamentally unlovable. I’ll just be over here with my cat pretending not to care.
These are just a few (admittedly extreme) examples of limiting beliefs. I’ve been in both of these dark spirals at some point in my life. I managed to dig myself out of that relationship spiral, and I’m now married to the coolest dude ever. That first example, though? I’m still working on that one.
What is a self-limiting belief?
The way I see it, a self-limiting belief is anything you tell yourself that holds you back from getting what you want. It can be a belief about yourself, your qualities or abilities. I’m too tall. I’m not creative. People don’t want to hear what I have to say.
Or it can be a belief about the way the world works. People with my background can never be rich. The system is rigged against me. You have to have a degree to do that kind of work. Only nice girls get married.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been spending most of your life repeating self-limiting beliefs over and over without even noticing it. Self-limiting beliefs were part of my persona. Self-depricating humor was my weapon. Self-loathing was my super power.
For most of my adult life, I’ve battled between the idea of myself that I truly wanted to become and the idea of myself that I held up to the world. I supressed my true desires because of my self-limiting beliefs. This life that I have right now that I don’t really love, this is what I should be doing. This is all I’m capable of. This is all there is. I told myself that story for years.
Have you ever done this? Are you doing this right now? Are you letting self-limiting beliefs hold you back? It’s so easy to do, we usually don’t even know we’re doing it.
How do you overcome self-limiting beliefs?
I’m definitely not an expert in this. I’m sharing with you something that I’m in the process of right now. As you know, I’m not a therapist or a counsellor, so I just want to encourage you to seek professional help if you feel you’re struggling with depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns. I’ve been there. It helps.
Like with most things, the first step to overcoming self-limiting beliefs is just to acknowledge them. They’re sneaky, and they hide everywhere. Stop and notice the story you’re telling yourself about the world and your life. Is it 100% positive all the time? If it is, please help the rest of us.
For the next few days, try to be really conscientious about the things you tell yourself that might be holding you back. I’d even recommend writing them down in a notebook or on your phone. Once you start to see them, you’ll notice them everywhere.
If you have someone in your life who you truly trust to support you, you can ask them to help identify your self-limiting beliefs as well. Sometimes they can see things we don’t, especially when we’re in that spiral. Don’t do this with someone who is going to use it against you, though. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
The one thing I don’t want you to do is judge yourself for having negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs. You’re human, and this is perfectly normal. You’re becoming more self-aware so you can change. Acknowledging what’s been holding you back makes you awesome.
Change your story. Change your life.
So you’ve started noticing your self-limiting beliefs. Now what? Well, if our beliefs create our reality, and we know that those limiting beliefs were creating our limited reality, we have to start changing our beliefs.
Chances are, you’ve held some of these beliefs for most of your life, so it can take some time for your brain to shift. Maybe that’s a self-limiting belief in and of itself, but I’m choosing to believe that we’re giving ourselves grace instead of setting ourselves up for failure. I think self-forgiveness and patience are going to be key in this process.
I think the antidote to self-limiting beliefs is positive affirmations. It feels cheesy at first, especially if you’ve been treating yourself like shit for years, to suddenly start telling yourself you’re great, life is great, and everything’s perfect. Part of you is going to resist. Note the resistance, recognize it as its own limiting belief, then keep doing it anyway. My mantra is “Say it ’til you know it’s true.”
In case you’re not familiar with affirmations, these are purely positive statements written in the present tense. Something like “Things are always working out for me,” or “I feel joyful and full of energy.” Even if it’s not true yet, state it in the present tense as if it’s already happened. “I will be rich someday” is a wish, not an affirmation. You gotta own it. Make it so.
If affirmations are too woo woo for you, here’s a gateway drug. Try a “what if” statement. What if I was just happy all the time? What if I am already worthy of anything I want? What if I’m such a bad ass, people can’t help but fall in love with me? Sometimes just that question can start to shift your mindset.
Your homework for overcoming self-limiting beliefs
So here’s what I want you to do. Spend a couple of days noting the self-limiting beliefs that crop up for you. Just write them down somewhere. Remember, no judgment. Just awareness.
Then I want you to choose two or three things that you’d most like to change. For each self-limiting belief, try writing down at least one positive affirmation to counteract it. Write your affirmations on a sticky note, and put them somewhere you’ll see them often. Or create an image and make it the screensaver on your phone.
Every morning when you wake up, and every night before you go to bed, say your affirmations out loud to yourself. You might feel like a total dork. Do it anyway. Try it every day for a week, and notice how you feel? Has anything started to shift.
If we can start to tell ourselves a different story, we can shift our beliefs. When we shift our beliefs, we shift our reality. Instead of being born losers, we’re full of potential. Instead of giving up before we start, we’re taking advantage of opportunities. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, we find the whole world opening up to us. All because we believed it could. And that’s magic.
If you try this, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know how it went. Do you have any tips for overcoming self-limiting beliefs? I’m still working on this, so I’d love to know what you’re doing.
In case nobody’s told you today, you’re awesome, and you can do anything you want to do. Take care of yourself, friend. You’re worth it.
Before you go
I’d also love for you to follow me on Instagram and share your journey to becoming your most awesome self. Use the hashtag #awesomeon20 so we can share the love.