We all have self-limiting beliefs. Some of which we will not even realize that we believe to be ‘indisputable fact’. Some of our beliefs about our abilities and the world are so ingrained that they have been accepted as fact and are no longer challenged.
What self-limiting beliefs do you hold about yourself? Too old, too unfit, too inexperienced, or just so used to stifling yourself that you don’t even give the idea of self-limiting beliefs a second thought? Limiting self-beliefs make a massive difference in your life. When you allow fear and “what if” thinking to influence your decisions and the actions you take in life, you basically allow yourself to travel the path of fewer opportunities. We foolishly place barriers and hurdles in our way that prevent us from reaching our full potential. In fact, I would venture a guess that the majority of people never find out what they are truly capable of due to self-limiting beliefs.
So how do we stop self-limiting beliefs?
It is unlikely that we will ever be able to stop self-limiting beliefs from popping into our heads but we can tackle this mental inertia by being aware of the limiting messages we brainwash ourselves with.
Common self-limiting beliefs:
1) I don’t know enough
2) I am too old/young/fat/thin/(fill in the gap)…………..
3) Others are better than me/know more than I do
4) I am not good enough/clever enough/witty enough/strong enough
5) I will make a fool of myself/ I will fail/I will be rejected
So, we envisage all the potential problems before we have even begun. There’s nothing wrong with sensible risk assessments but self-limiting beliefs go beyond this. They are often irrational limiting beliefs that only remain because we do not challenge them and try regardless.
The anticipation and fearful thoughts often create more anxiety than the event itself.
1)The first thing to do is start identifying the limiting scripts that you repeat to yourself.
2) Once you have identified a few of the regular self-limiting beliefs, challenge them. Where have they come from? Is there any concrete evidence to suggest that you are 100% correct in your limiting assessment? Focus on fact rather than emotional reasoning.
3) Do experiments. If one of your beliefs is that you will make a fool of yourself, try do something that helps you confront this fear. Start small and work your way up.
4) Start with, for example – ask a stranger for the time, speak up with an opinion at the next business meeting or submit your CV to that company that you’ve have your eye on. What’s the worst that can happen?
Often, your worst fears never happen and this is how you begin to challenge and diminish self-limiting beliefs. Even if you didn’t get a good outcome, you will invariably find that you are able to cope. This in itself helps your self-efficacy and your ideas about your capabilities.
5) Ask yourself these questions:
What’s the worst that can happen?
What’s the best that can happen?
What is most likely to happen?
Even of the worst does occur, what can I do to deal with it?
What steps can I take now to influence the outcome?
Our thinking is just that – thoughts. We live in our heads and make reality more fearful than it needs to be. Stop living fearfully and start experimenting!