Be honest, what happens more often? Do you set goals then fail, or do you not set goals because you are afraid you will fail? What stories or thoughts do you tell yourself that limit your capacity to be your best self? These are your limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are those ideas about your identity and self that inhibit your growth. If you’ve ever started a sentence with “I want to…but…” you probably have a limiting belief.
One employee at Univera describes how she came to identify and label herself as “the smart one” and relegated her sisters to the roles of “the creative one” and “the athletic one.” (How sad for all of them.) Because of this she never explored any artistic mediums and described herself physically as clumsy and weak. She tells us, “Imagine my surprise in my late 30s when I made a conscious decision to leave my comfort zone and discovered that I not only enjoy creating art, I’m actually pretty good at it. And, the confidence and shift in body image that came from working with a trainer and seeing that my body could be strong and that I actually do have balance and grace was life-changing.”
So, are you standing in your own way?
If you sense that you have a limiting belief, here are some steps to overcome it.
1) Identify and isolate the belief. This might be difficult. To start, what are the words that come after ‘but’? As in, “I want to, but…” Also, listen for these other warning words or phrases that you have a limiting belief:
- I do or I don’t
- I can’t
- I must or I mustn’t
- I am or I am not
- Others are or Others will
2) Discover where the belief came from. Does it reflect an experience you had? Is it something you have been repeatedly told? Does it come from a place of fear?
3) Analyze the truth of the belief. Is any of your belief based in fact? What are the lies behind the belief? Has this belief ever worked for you? When has it worked against you?
4) Embrace a NEW belief. Turn your limiting belief into an empowering belief. This does not necessarily mean just choosing an opposite – in the story above, “not clumsy” is different than “graceful.” And you don’t have to replace an “I’m not” with an “I am” – for our employee, the “I am not creative” was replaced by “I can make art.” Be realistic and don’t set yourself up for failure.
- Replace “I am a lazy person who can’t lose weight” with “I can set realistic goals for my health and meet those goals one at a time.”
- Replace “I’m too old” with “This is the perfect stage in my life to get started because I have knowledge and wisdom to guide me.”
- Replace “I don’t have a mind for business” with “I have a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic.”
5) Go forward “as if.” Once you have framed a new belief, even if you don’t embrace it yet, go forward as if it is true. Create small successes and before you know it, it will be true.
As you move into the next stage of your life, try to reflect on your limiting beliefs and how they affect you. At the very least, consider adopting these empowering beliefs for everyone from Tony Robbins:
Here are ten examples of empowering beliefs to try on:
- The past does not equal the future.
- There is always a way if I’m committed.
- There are no failures, only outcomes—as long as I learn something I’m succeeding.
- If I can’t, I must; if I must, I can.
- Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves me.
- I find great joy in little things… a smile… a flower… a sunset.
- I give more of myself to others than anyone expects.
- I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.
- If I’m confused, I’m about to learn something.
- Every day above ground is a great day.