Have you been putting in lots of effort and work on your business goals but not seeing the progress you want?
Chances are, you’re getting in your own way and stopping yourself from moving forward because of your beliefs about what is actually possible. In this post I’ll teach you how to identify and overcome the hidden limiting beliefs holding you back.
I’ve also created a free workbook to complete after reading, which you can sign up for here:
You will only be as successful as you believe you can be. Your brain will actually sabotage you to keep you in a “safe” area, where you feel comfortable. Going further than you believe you can feels dangerous, so your brain will put up barriers if you start doing down a path that feels like it’s too much.
Your success or lack of success depends on your ability to change your beliefs to reflect the level of success you want. Often, you won’t even recognize that you have negative beliefs getting in your way.
Read on to learn why that is and how you can fix it.
What Are Beliefs and Why Would I Believe Something That Harms Me?
According to Google, the definition of belief is:
“an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.”
When you truly believe something, you have full confidence that something is true. If it’s a core belief, you likely also feel like that belief is a fact.
If your kiddos are around, it’s time for them not to be reading…
Remember back to when you were a kid. Was there something you believed because you were told to believe it?
I remember believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and all sorts of things…
Why did I believe those things? Because my parents told me they were true.
Since my parents were the “experts,” I just believed them. You may have had a similar experience with this. There was no real reason to question the belief because your parents or other adults were the people you looked to for answers. Even television showed that Santa was real!
Think about other things that you believed to be true at some point but later learned differently. You may have learned from trusted friends how certain things worked…friends who knew no different than you did.
A friend recently told me that her sister told her that babies were made when a boy and a girl slept in the same room. She had no reason to question that and so when her sister and her sister’s boyfriend fell asleep together on the couch, my friend was quite worried about the pregnancy that was about to occur. 🙂
How Are Beliefs Formed?
As you can see, one way that many of your beliefs were formed was by what was told to you. When you were a child this included things your parents told you, things you learned in school, and things you saw on television.
Think about it for a moment. What are some weird things you believed? I believe that if you wore your socks to bed, you’d get worms. No clue where I got that from, but there you go.
Jim Fortin, founder of the Transformational Coaching Program, pointed out that from a very young age we are indoctrinated with beliefs from our culture. Young children recite “The Pledge of Allegiance” but you have to ask, do they know what it means to “pledge an allegiance?” Interesting, hey?
Ok, so you understand that beliefs are formed by what you learn from others and from your experience. There is another way you form beliefs that is in some ways even more damaging.
Who do you spend the most time with every day? Yourself! What kinds of things do you say to yourself all day long?
Are you saying things like “you’re doing awesome. You could totally do that, no problem. That will be easy. If she can do it, so can I. I’m so beautiful.”
Unfortunately chances are you are not talking to yourself like that.
If you’re like most people, your inner dialogue is on the negative side:
“I can’t believe you said that, how dumb. Who are you to think you can do that? You aren’t ready for this. Ugh, you’ve gained so much weight. No one is going to listen to you.”
Yep, that’s how we talk to ourselves. There are ways out of that, but for now I want you to see how this leads to problems.
If you hear the same thing day after day after day, guess what! You form a belief and that belief feels like a fact.
Once something feels like a fact to you, you just don’t even question it anymore. It just is what it is.
Notice what comes to mind when you read the following sentences. Just notice without judging or questioning. Notice thoughts or feelings.
For real, do this…
- I am beautiful.
- Money comes to me easily.
- I bring lots of value to the world and should make lots of money.
- People want to pay me for my help.
- I love myself.
Did you notice anything come up? Any positive or negative emotions? Were there any thoughts that came to mind? Did you notice yourself feeling any resistance to any of the statements? Write those down.
You may have noticed some facts, but I’m guessing much of what you wrote down are just beliefs or interpretations.
What Is The Difference Between Belief and Fact?
Facts are things that are provable. Facts are things like:
- Water is liquid
- The temperature is 78 degrees
- I am reading a blog post
On the other side are beliefs, which include things like interpretations, thoughts, and stories.
A key thing to remember is that beliefs often come from the stories you tell yourself. These stories can come from our interpretations of things that happen, from things others say to us, or just from our thoughts about ourselves.
Beliefs can be things like:
- I can’t do that, I’d fail.
- I will only be able to make a certain amount of money in life.
- I’m not smart enough
- She’s only successful because she _____
These are based on stories.
The problem is that we tell ourselves these stories all day. And then we believe them.
When we tell ourselves stories like this that actually limit us, that is called a “limiting belief.” It’s like you put a ceiling on yourself and you can’t go beyond that ceiling. If you really believe you can’t do something, then you won’t be able to do it.
Jim Fortin put together an excellent video series on how to recognize and master these thoughts so they no longer impact your life.
What is the Impact of a Limiting Belief?
Limiting beliefs are often invisible. You don’t see them easily because to you they are facts. When you tell yourself something over and over again it just feels true. If something is a fact, you don’t really challenge it.
For instance “the sky is blue.”
Is it? Currently it is 10:14 PM and it does not look very blue to me.
But the “correct” answer is the sky is blue.
We don’t know that there is anything wrong with the way that we think. In our view, the way that we think is the way the world is.
Since you believe your thoughts are true, you live your life as if whatever you believe is just the way it is.
If you tell yourself you’re not good enough to do something, you never try.
If you tell yourself that the person you look up to is only successful because of (some characteristic you don’t have), then you don’t try to follow in her footsteps.
If you tell yourself something isn’t possible, then it isn’t.
How To Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs can show up in your life in a bunch of different areas that are important to you. Categories of limiting beliefs can be in work, relationships, self, and pretty much every other place where you want to improve but feel unable to.
Think about the different areas in your life that are important to you. Think about your goals in those areas and whether you have reached them. Have you been trying to reach them or do you hold yourself back.
- Relationships: What are your beliefs about relationships? Do you trust people? Do you have friends? How do you get along with others?
- Work: Have you reached your goals in your career? What are your beliefs about your work and about how far you can progress in your career? Are there jobs you would like to apply for but that you tell yourself you are not able to do?
- Money: What are your beliefs about money? Do you feel like you deserve money? Do you feel like you have enough money? Are you a saver or a spender?
- Health: Are you healthy? What are your beliefs about your body? What are your beliefs about your health? What is your family history of health and do you believe you will be different
- Hobbies: Do you have hobbies? Do you spend time with your hobbies? Do you try new things? Do you believe you are creative?
As you can see, there are so many things in these questions that you probably never even think about because they’re just a part of you. But any of these questions or areas of life can bring to light your limiting beliefs.
Your life reflects you and sometimes the limits in your life are based on what you believe is possible for you.
How Do You Change Your Beliefs?
The first step to changing your limiting beliefs is to recognize them and to understand they’re just beliefs.
When you believe something strongly it’s difficult to notice that it’s just a belief. When you run up against a strongly held belief it feels like fact. You make the mistake of thinking that everyone thinks the same way, that it’s just truth.
One area where people have a lot of limiting beliefs is with money. Let’s use money as a way of learning how to figure out what your beliefs are that might be limiting you.
Take a moment and think about what you believe about money. What were you told as a child about money? Here are some common beliefs about money:
- It’s hard to make money
- Money doesn’t grow on trees
- Most marriages fail because of money issues
- I don’t deserve lots of money
- If I have a lot of money then people will use me
- If you want money you are selfish
Woah. Do you see anything there that you’ve believed to be true?
Once you learn about the kinds of beliefs you have about money, you can then examine them to see if they are truth or fact. This allows you to challenge and then change your limiting beliefs.
If we take the first one, “it’s hard to make money,” you can ask yourself questions such as:
- Is it always hard to make money?
- Has it ever been easy for me to get money?
- Does everyone find money hard to come by?
- Can you think of any exceptions? (For example being given a gift, or finding money on the street)
If there are exceptions, then it’s likely that what you’re dealing with is a belief instead of a fact. Since it is a belief instead of a fact, you can change your thoughts. Remember that you create a belief by telling yourself something over and over again (or being told something over and over again).
Do you want to keep the belief?
What is the consequence to you for keeping the belief?
What are the consequence for giving it up? (What is positive about keeping your belief)?
With our example of “it’s hard to make money,” it seems the consequence of holding onto the belief are mostly negative. If you think money is hard to get, it’s hard to imagine the possibility of creating money through your own business or in any other way that feels easy.
If money ever does feel easy, it’s likely you’ll tell yourself that it was a fluke or not real in some way.
Humans really like to hold onto their beliefs!
If it’s hard to make money, who in the heck would want to pursue more? People don’t like doing hard things!
So, let’s change the belief. We’ve already discovered that money is not always hard to get. There are times that you’ve found money easy…either though receiving a gift or even finding money.
Based on this information is there something else you could choose to believe? You could go to the opposite, something like “money is easy to come by” or you could tone it down a bit by saying, “Money can be easy to come by.”
If you tell yourself this new belief over and over again and then also act in ways to give you the opportunity to have a different experience, you can change your belief about money. As you let go of the negative beliefs you have that get in your way and take on new beliefs, you’ll experience a shift in your life and start to experience bringing in more and more of what you want.
To help you work through some of your limiting beliefs, I put together a limiting beliefs worksheet (pdf download) for you. Click the button to get the workbook!
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.