A limiting belief is a state of mind, or conviction, that you think is true that limits you in some way. It’s what keeps you inside your comfort zone and will keep you stuck.
When someone has the deep-seated belief that they are unlovable or they don’t deserve love, they will be extremely hard on themselves, and they will attract people who treat them badly.
Someone who has the core belief that they are not good enough is often a perfectionist, believing that the only way to be good enough is to do everything absolutely perfectly. Whenever they fail, to them it will simply be evidence that they really are not good enough. I am very familiar with this one as it used to be me!
Why Does it Matter?
This Forbes article explains how limiting beliefs are “just stories we make up in our head by attaching made-up meanings to events. And they cost us dearly all our lives.”
Fortunately, any belief can be changed with a little inner work. Here are 10 strategies that will help you do that:
How to Transform Limiting Beliefs
The Greek philosopher Aristotle said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” In order to bring about any change you must first be willing to learn more about yourself – what you think, how you feel, what you say, and what drives the actions that you take.
Self-awareness is key, because you can’t change something if you’re not aware of it, and that’s how limiting beliefs continue to affect us, because we’re not usually aware of them.
- Become an observer
Pay attention to what’s happening and try to observe it without judging. Simply notice what’s going on, as if you were observing it happening to somebody else. For example, you may notice that you seem to meet a lot of people who are angry, or who are untrustworthy. Be aware of the experiences you have - particularly the ones you don’t like. Every experience you have, and your response to it, will tell you something about yourself.
- Notice your thoughts and feelings
Your emotions and thoughts can be the keys to transformation. You may wonder why certain things keep happening or why you can’t accomplish certain things, and becoming aware of what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling can lead you to identify the deeply held and deeply hidden beliefs that are driving you. Once you become aware of them, then you can change them.
- Look for patterns
Patterns are wonderful clues to help you identify what your unconscious beliefs are. If you keep experiencing the same things over and over there’s a hidden belief at work. For example, if you keep attracting abusive relationship partners, it’s likely you have a belief that you’re not good enough, not lovable, and that’s what you deserve. If you continue to struggle financially, and just when you think you’re making progress, something happens to pull you back, you may have a belief that says you can’t be wealthy, or that people who have money are dishonest, or some other belief along those lines.
- Translate what’s showing up
If you want one thing, but the opposite is showing up, see if you can identify the reason. For example, if you are looking for a job but consistently get rejected, perhaps your beliefs are along the lines of “I’m not good enough,” “nobody will want to hire me,” or “life is difficult and I always struggle.” Or perhaps it’s time for you to re-think your career path and try something new. Or perhaps the type of job you’re pursuing is not what you really want to be doing at all. Ask yourself what you can learn from the situation.
- See other people as mirrors
The people in your life are reflecting back to you something you need to know about yourself and this can give you wonderful clues about yourself and your unconscious beliefs. For example, if you find that you constantly attract people who are selfish and self-absorbed, perhaps they are showing you that it’s time you focused on yourself a little bit more and put your needs first instead of everyone else’s.
- Ask questions
Instead of letting your thoughts go round and round about how terrible your situation is or how difficult things are, ask questions, such as: “What is this situation teaching me about myself?” “What do I need to know in order to move forward?” “How can I move past this and start going in the direction that I want?” This is a wonderful way to change your thoughts so that they are productive instead of destructive.
- Be willing to learn and change
The more you are willing to learn about yourself and change your thinking, the faster your progress will be. Whenever you find yourself in a situation you don’t like, be willing to look at yourself, rather than complaining about the situation. Learning about and changing yourself is the fastest way to make progress.
- Develop the art of re-framing
When your mind goes into a state of negative thinking based on what results are showing up for you, see if you can re-frame your thinking, along the lines of: “What if this turns out better than I thought?” “What if I didn’t get this job because there is something better waiting for me?” “What if I have everything I need to accomplish what I want and all I have to do is relax?”
- Be willing to see yourself differently
We can get very stuck in seeing ourselves and our lives in a certain way based on our beliefs about ourselves and what’s happening. Be willing to see things differently, try a different approach, and visualize yourself accomplishing what you want. Start seeing yourself differently and you’ll start to behave differently. Let go of the old story of how things have been or always are, and focus on creating a new one.
Just in case you think this might not be possible for you, that’s what most people think at first. I hope these comments from clients I’ve worked with will change your mind:
“When I look back on the past 5 weeks I can’t believe how much I have changed. I feel like I have more control, more peace in my life.”
"I had a wonderful moment of clarity about fear. I have allowed fear way too much power over me in my life. It doesn't have to be that way. It's so obvious all of a sudden.”
"Over the past weeks I have seen parts of myself I didn't realize existed and they shook me to my core. My focus has shifted away from trying to figure out my next career move to paying attention to myself.”