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Overcoming self limiting beliefs

What we believe has an incredible influence over our lives. Growing up in a working class family as, I did, it was very easy to accept that my career path would be stacking shelves or working in a blue collar job. Our inner belief system (and I am not talking about faith or spirituality here) shapes our thinking, understanding and actions.


Lots of our internal beliefs we develop over time based on our environment, what people have said to us and the upbringing. If you have grown up with negativity spoken over you all the time, no doubt you will have a negative view of yourself. If you’ve been told you are no good all your life, guess what? Deep inside yourself you will believe that to be true.

Why is this important? You’ve seen the people on TV shows like Idol and x Factor, who have amazing voices, but suffer from low confidence, you have seen the talented doubt themselves and drop out of the competition. This is all a result of self limiting beliefs.

You may have seen this before:

What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality.

Self limiting beliefs start out as harsh words, bad experiences, stupid mistakes which wound our personality. The fester and develop until they take root so strongly, whenever we try to do something counter to those beliefs, we internally sabotage ourselves. Our internal voice tells us we will fail, we are not good, we can’t achieve it. We listen to that internal voice and so we avoid taking the risk, we do things half heartedly or we keep it as a good idea but we could never do it.

I struggle self limiting beliefs which are rooted in my working class background. Those beliefs tell me all sort of things which prevent me grasping my future. I have to decide to fight and oppose them. It’s tough and hard, but we all face to face our self limiting beliefs if we want to reach our potential.

Here is what I do:

Challenge the source of the belief.

Where did that thought come from? Don’t just recognise it as a self limiting belief, hunt it down. Why is that there, what is the reason I have this. Write down why you have the self limiting belief. I have believe this because….

Is the belief based on evidence.

What evidence makes it true? How much evidence makes it true? Write down the reasons it isn’t true. Sometimes we will come across substantive evidence of why certain things are true. They are not limiting beliefs, they are facts. I am not great at paperwork, that doesn’t mean I avoid it, it means I have things in place to compensate for it. Write down the factual evidence for holding that belief….

Is there evidence to disprove the belief.

This is important to hunt out. After you have listed some of your limiting beliefs, where they have come from and the evidence base to support them, you have to find reasons to prove they are untrue. Find evidence of people who have been in your position, challenge the narrative in your head. This is difficult because you are challenging something your inner self says is true.

Defy your limiting belief.

If you have a thought that tells you something negative. Do the opposite, literally defy the belief. Brian Tracy has a whole series of talks he does one beliefs, but one of the most important messages I heard from him is the key to defying self limiting beliefs. Firstly, do what it says you cannot do and secondly, have an argument with yourself and repeat the exact opposite to yourself in a mirror. It sounds stupid, but we have learned some stupid things over time by repeating them to ourselves internally. Try repeating the opposite to yourself externally to challenge your internal negativity. Brian advocates daily standing in front of a mirror and saying “I Like myself” over and over again to combat poor self image (which is one of the causes of shyness and low confidence).

Keep going

Changing your internal beliefs takes time. You’ve learned the limiting beliefs over years and so it takes a lot of work and challenging of your internal self to completely change your belief system. It may take weeks, months or years but it won’t be solved in one hit, repeating these steps over and over again will wear down your beliefs and eventually replace them with new beliefs.

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