What are Limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs are exactly what they sound like. They are the perceptions we have accepted in our minds as truths.
Are they truths? Well sometimes, they are and sometimes they are not.
Whenever you experience anything in life, your brain goes to the vast collection of conclusions it has accepted over the years and provides you with a bunch of probabilities.
Therefore, in any circumstance you face, your brain will provide you with its best guess.
That best guess is just that, a guess. Moreover, we are acting on those guesses more often than we realise.
According to Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University, a human has almost 60,000 thoughts each day and 90% of those thoughts are repetitive.
Chances are that the majority of your thoughts today are identical to the thoughts you will have tomorrow.
Many times repetitive thoughts, i.e. the best guesses of your brain, are limiting you and actively acting as impediments to action.
You are by now so familiar with your thoughts that you do not even realize that when you have them.
These thoughts are formed over the years by the experiences we have had over our lives as well as the attitudes of authority figures in the past.
How can you identify and overcome your limiting beliefs? Let us find out.
Reticular Activating System
I think most people reading this would agree that a person’s beliefs shape their lives.
This is because your brain has to filter through an incredible amount of information each second.
It does this by focusing on only the information that is relevant to us.
However, how does your brain know what is relevant to you?
The Reticular activating system (RAS) which is the area in the upper part of your midbrain to the lower part of Medulla oblongata is in charge of this.
It maintains our behavioral arousal and consciousness.
Over the next few days, you might hear RAS or the Midbrain often. Even though maybe you have rarely heard them before or ever.
It is because you read this now, you have a new filter in your brain.
The information you receive every single day might not change much however the information your brain tunes in will be different.
When I bought a bike, I noticed that many of my friends were buying bikes.
For a second I really thought that maybe there is some bigger reason at play, maybe many people buy bikes near the college time.
It was because of the RAS. They would have still bought bikes but I would not have noticed it if it was not relevant to me.
How Limiting beliefs are holding you back
Well now, we know how the filters you have in the brain shape your view of the world.
This is helpful if you are trying to seek a goal and your brain starts tuning you into all the things necessary to achieve it.
It however can also be holding you back from what you can achieve in life.
Your beliefs will control you each time you are running on autopilot. If you are not living mindfully, that is happening most of the time.
The subconscious brain will take center stage and start making your decisions for you.
The highest priority for a subconscious brain is to keep you safe from danger and it will do that by conserving energy.
It does not matter what you want to do your brain will start thinking of 10 different ways to keep you in a passive state.
It will come up with a distraction that provides instant gratification just so you stop thinking about that ambitious goal you wanted to pursue.
This will make it hard for you to reach your potential or achieve your goals.
My past limiting belief
I had a limiting belief too and I held it for an incredibly long time, subconsciously.
I had a belief that I was smart. So smart that if I worked hard I could achieve more than anyone else could. To keep this belief I did not study hard in school.
If I did study hard and underperformed I would not be smart anymore right?
If I just study in the final few days and score average, I can tell everyone else (but mostly myself) that I am smart, and even though I did not study, I got average marks.
Most of your actions each day are habitual and because of that your limiting beliefs are being expressed each day in your behaviour patterns.
This is why sometimes you feel like your life is running on repeat. The same things keep happening over and over again.
Types of Limiting beliefs
You can have limiting beliefs in almost every area of your life. A few examples of limiting beliefs are
- I can’t be my real self, people will judge me
- If I am vulnerable people will walk over me
- Everyone who trusts others will eventually get betrayed
- If I ask, they may reject me
- If I try, I can fail.
- It is too late to pursue my goals, I have responsibilities
- It is too early to pursue my goals, I don’t have experience
- Poor people are criminals
- I don’t deserve X
- Rich people are greedy
- My dad was an alcoholic so I will be an alcoholic
- I don’t need anyone’s help
- It is not up to me so it isn’t worth working hard on
- I am not good enough
- It wasn’t my fault
- I don’t need X
Some things above might be hard to read. Some may even feel like they are true, don’t they?
All the above are limiting beliefs. In essence, all the limiting beliefs boil down to these few things-
- Inferiority/ inadequacy- I am not enough.
- Scarcity/ lack- There is not enough for everyone.
- Trust/Control-I cannot trust.
- Love or approval- I need someone else to complete me.
So now the question becomes what are your limiting beliefs, and how can you find them.
You have to start by accepting your feelings and being brutally honest to yourself.
Analyze different areas of your life until the time you start feeling uncomfortable.
When that happens stay with it, you will feel the urge to distract yourself with something of instant gratification.
Ask yourself, what is holding you back in your life. Ask this question in terms of your health, your relationships, finances, career, and politics.
Start writing them down, most probably there are several layers of limiting beliefs there.
How to overcome your limiting Beliefs
Now that we have identified what our limiting beliefs, and I do recommend that you identify at least one limiting belief you have in your life before reading further.
We will try to overcome it in this article.
Here are the steps to overcome your limiting belief; just for the sake of explaining it easily, I’ll pick a limiting belief with you.
Step 1- Identify your limiting beliefs- ‘I don’t need money’
Ask yourself why do you have this belief, is it because you don’t like money?
Do you think people will judge you if you chase money or do you think only greedy people run after money?
Maybe it is more subtle, maybe you understand that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to earn a lot of money and it will involve a lot of risk.
You might try really hard and still, maybe lady luck won’t bless you. Go to the root cause.
Step 2- Identify where the limiting beliefs are in your body
Our body stores memories and sometimes when tackling our limiting beliefs we might feel them rising up in an area of our body.
I remember when my grandfather passed away and I came to my house, someone kept his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.
To this day when someone keeps his or her hand on my shoulder, I revisit that day instantaneously.
When you are tackling a limiting belief, you will feel as if a part of your body is reacting to it.
Focus on it. Maybe it is in your back, maybe in your chest, sometimes in your lower abdomen.
Step 3- Time to tackle your limiting beliefs
Now whatever your belief is, try to think of something opposite. If you think you cannot trust, Imagine you trusting someone else.
If your limiting belief is –if you try you will fail, try to think of yourself succeeding.
Whatever your limiting belief is you are creating your own personal affirmation against it.
You will feel incredibly awkward doing this.
This is because of cognitive dissonance. You are thinking something that is different from what you are doing.
This is the cause of most of your anxieties. If you are stubbornly thinking of your affirmations, your brain will have to change behavior patterns to match those thoughts.
Step 4- Time to fuel with facts
Start searching your memory where the limiting belief you hold was disproved by the affirmation you are thinking of.
Therefore, for the belief, if I try I will fail, imagine a time you did try and you succeeded with flying colors.
If your belief is that you cannot trust anyone else, try to remember a time where you did trust someone else and they delivered a result that exceeded your expectations.
The memory that you are searching for will bring with itself a positive feeling with it.
Something that feels antithetical to the feeling that your limiting belief brought up in you.
Focus on this feeling, it will feel as if you are replacing the previous feeling with a new one in your body.
Take the new feeling to the place where you felt the limiting belief before in your body.
Step 5- Act on it
This is the final piece of the puzzle. You have a new feeling, one that is completely opposite to your limiting belief.
All that is left is to act on that feeling. It does not have to be something that is life-changing, it can be something very small. However, you have to act.
By acting on the new feeling, you are tackling your limited belief in real-time. Your brain really might not want to do it but this is the best time to do it.
Do not let the newfound feeling go away. Keep it with you and stay in that zone.
It is easy to fall back into the old pattern but if you stay with this process, you can shatter through any limiting belief you have within minutes.
Step 6- repeat whenever necessary
Now that you know how to get to a place of higher feeling, you can use this method every time when you catch yourself in a behaviour patter fuelled by limiting beliefs.
More often than not, your limiting beliefs will have layers to them and as you conquer one, a deeper one will surface.
When you confront those deeper beliefs, have gratitude that you had the opportunity to get clarity.
Keep repeating this process and the brain will start to change your behaviour patterns in tune with your personal affirmations.
Embrace change to overcome limiting beliefs
Our subconscious mind creates a self-image of ourselves, and we slowly and gradually accept that self-image as our identity.
If you have spent your entire life building a business and that business fails, it might feel like you have lost your identity.
“If I cannot do the one thing that has defined my whole life, am I even myself anymore?”
This is how people feel after a break up; they feel as if their entire world is imploding.
This is why change is scary. When you start to challenge those beliefs, you feel as if a part of you is dying.
It is so easy to stick to who you think you are that you never start to wonder what you can be, what you have the potential to be.
However, you can only be stagnant for so long. Eventually, your stagnant life starts to stare you back in the face.
This week start to tackle your limiting beliefs. There will be risks but we should always remember deciding not to choose is a choice too, and it too carries risk.
Ask yourself what your true callings are, notice the beliefs that spring up as soon as you think of them.
When you have tackled your limiting beliefs, you will notice that there is a certain calmness in your attitude.
You are not overconfident, but you feel good. It is as if you have faced a terrible and violent storm and lived to tell the tale.
If you need help finding what your true callings are, we provide a free eBook called The perfect beginning that might help you.
Well, that’s all for this post. Have a good day and a good life.