We love our limiting beliefs…
Our personal refrains of “I’m not good enough” and “I don’t deserve that” or “I can’t be loved” are what experts call “limiting beliefs”, those powerful notions in our minds that deter us from doing certain things because we believe they are beyond the limits of what is due to us.
New York-based life coach Lisa Romano – author, head of her own coaching practice and mother of three – pointed out one of her previous limiting beliefs: that surviving was more important that happiness.
“Life was always about survival,” Romano said. “When I told my father about me wanting to divorce my first husband … he looked at me square in the eye, and as disgust swept across his face he said, ‘Who ever said you had to be happy Lisa? Life is hard. All you have to do is survive.’ I knew in that moment why it was that I never accomplished the goals I set out to achieve.”
Romano’s experience is just one of many common limiting beliefs which hinder us from inner liberty and joy. Here are nine common limiting beliefs and how to overcome them now:
#1 “I cannot be loved because I have too much baggage.”
Part of Lisa Romano’s struggle was that, after having three children and being divorced, her family and friends told her ‘baggage’ made her undesirable.
The key to overcoming this limiting belief was to refuse to give up on her dream of finding a loving partner. As feelings drive thoughts, she said, you have to feel your worthiness.
I held steadfast to my dream of one day manifesting a relationship that would make me feel seen, heard, validated, and respected.
“In spite of how ingrained my limiting beliefs were, I held steadfast to my dream of one day manifesting a relationship that would make me feel seen, heard, validated, and respected,” she said. “I know it is hard to believe, but my new husband asked me out on our first date precisely on my forty-fifth birthday. It’s been almost two years since we married, and life is better than I ever could have imagined.”
#2 “What other people think matters more than what I think.”
Carole Ann Rice, a life coach based in the United Kingdom, said this belief is far too common. The results of this limiting belief, she pointed out, are devastating – “When you live by the approval of others you die by their criticism.”
The key to overcoming this belief is to acknowledge and embrace that you are in control of your own fate.
When you live by the approval of others you die by their criticism.
“I get the client to ‘own’ their own lives, to see that they are the authors of their own destiny and that they can’t live by the rules of others,” she said.
#3 “What if people think I’m crazy?”
Barrie Davenport, the life coach behind the Atlanta’s Live Bold and Bloom, said this limiting belief usually arrives when we are making daily choices big and small.
“We all want a guarantee of success and ease when it comes to change and decisions in our lives and work,” Davenport said.
We feel a sense of uncertainty that spurs our doubts. The key to overcoming this limiter, she said, is coming to terms with the fact that nearly every decision you make carries a certain measure of the unknown.
We all want a guarantee of success and ease when it comes to change and decisions in our lives and work.
“Get comfortable with the feelings of uncertainty and learn to trust your own intelligence and judgment,” she said. “When you apply common sense, the wisdom of experience and appropriate due diligence, you are doing everything you can to lessen the risk. But eventually you must take a leap of faith.”
#4 “I am a failure.”
Gary Amers, a top life coach in the United Kingdom, said the limiting belief that you are a failure sticks to us like a magnet. The bond which keeps us chained to our limiting belief is a mix of images, sounds and language.
Amers said the use of negative language as we think about our failures is a key component of our limiting thoughts. If you’re constantly telling yourself you’re a failure, change the language.
If you actually felt like a success, how would that feel?
Amers suggested asking yourself the following questions: “What if you weren’t a failure? How would that feel? If you actually felt like a success, how would that feel?”
Once you’ve asked those questions, turn your focus to your limiting belief: “Could you doubt your belief even just a little bit? How does it feel to know you can doubt it? Now that you’ve analyzed your limiting belief, is it a complete lie? How do you know for certain?”
#5 “I’m too…”
One of the most common limiters life coaches hear is the “I’m too” phrases: “I’m too old,” “I’m too set in my ways,” “It’s too hard” and the like. These limiters, Barrie Davenport said, are based on fear — we make excuses to have a reason for passing up an opportunity.
I challenge (my clients) to break down the effort into small and manageable chunks and take the first few steps toward their goal
The best medicine for this limiter, she said, is to take the big task and divide it up into easier-to-approach parts.
“I challenge (my clients) to break down the effort into small and manageable chunks and take the first few steps toward their goal,” she said. “More often than not, they see their limiting belief didn’t hold any water.”
# 6 “I am not enough.”
California-based life coach Christine Hassler and Las Vegas life coach and New York Times bestselling author Christy Whitman both pointed out this limiting belief. Whitman said it’s “the most common and usually the hardest to change.”
We feel the unending pressures of our job, our families and our inner growth and we succumb to the sense that we are missing something.
“(This belief) comes from forgetting we are totally whole, complete, and connected to Source energy. When we were born, we knew we that,” Hassler said. “But then things happen in our life that create hurt, fear, doubt, judgment, etc. and we totally forget and buy into the limiting beliefs.”
Overcoming this limiting belief is a matter of remembering who we really are, exploring our past and discovering a sense of spirituality.
Remembering we are one, loved and totally connected to source usually requires doing personal growth work.
“Remembering we are one, loved and totally connected to source,” Hassler said. “Since remembering that is not always easy, it usually requires doing personal growth work to tend to some of the past hurts in combination with getting on a spiritual path of some kind.”
Whitman said using your mental energy for positive thoughts and not the negative ones you normally entertain is another technique to overcome this belief.
“We need to find the energy in our minds and bodies and shift it into what we do want and then feel the new energy replacing the old energy,” she said.
#7 “Somebody else can do it better than me.”
Jill Tupper, a life coach in Kansas City (Mo.), said this limiting belief is one of the most effective in stopping us from taking action.
“We hold ourselves back, utterly convincing ourselves that it’s not worth the effort as another can do it better,” she said.
The starting point for deconstructing this lie is seeing yourself as you truly are — imperfections and all.
We hold ourselves back.
That can be difficult, she said, because we hold ourselves to such high standards of perfection we often cower back from a task and let someone else accomplish it.
“Cognitively we know this is absurd,” she said, “yet we fall for it again and again.”
#8 “I have less value as a single mom than I did as a married mom.”
Many single moms face the startling realization that the world around them — even their friends and family — is disappointed they got divorced. Live with this disapproval long enough and you start to believe it, Jill Tupper said, pointing to her own experience with this limiting belief.
“It had infiltrated the depths of my psyche in such a way that its talons had sunk their grip into my mind and heart and I bought it unquestionably,” she said.
It was rolling up my sleeves, facing my fears and stepping way out of what I thought I could do on my own.
Tupper’s personal solution was to do something in direct opposition to the belief — she took her kids to Mexico for nonprofit work, an idea she said she had convinced herself was crazy because she was a single mom.
“It was rolling up my sleeves, facing my fears and stepping way out of what I thought I could do on my own that broke the dark curse I had placed upon myself,” Tupper noted.
#9 “I don’t deserve this.”
This limiting belief comes from a weak self-esteem, Barrie Davenport said.
“We don’t feel worthy enough to be successful or to go after what we really want in life,” she said.
One of the best ways to rebuild your self-esteem is to do the thing you don’t think you deserve.
For a lot of people, this belief is instilled in them during their childhood and they nurture it as they grow older. Davenport said the best way to combat this limiting belief is to approach it head-on: identify the thing you think you don’t deserve and pursue it.
“One of the best ways to rebuild your self-esteem is to do the thing you don’t think you deserve,” she said. “Go for the goal and achieve something meaningful to you. Accomplishment is an amazing self-esteem booster.”
Learning to be somebody different
Limiting beliefs, no matter which ones they are, can become so ingrained into our way of thinking we lose sight of who we can be. Restoring our thoughts and our self-perception is possible, said Aboodi Shabi, a personal development and leadership expert: we can be who we want to be.
Even though you think you might be attached to your fixed notions of self, and resistant to change, they begin to understand they can learn to be somebody different than who they currently are.
“In my coaching, the biggest realisation for clients is that many of the ‘truths’ they have about themselves are just something they learned,” he said. “And, even though they might … be attached to their fixed notions of their self, and resistant to change, they begin to understand they can learn to be somebody different than who they currently are.”