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I’ve talked a lot about overcoming and changing limiting beliefs in my previous articles. However, a few readers requested that I go over the topic in a more general view — one that is not attached to the beliefs connected to worthiness or love. So this article is my attempt at doing that.
First of all, let’s set the stage: beliefs are not facts. They are made-up perceptions of what we think is right/wrong or true/false that we mostly form in our childhood.
When I say “limiting beliefs,” I’m referring to beliefs that harm us, lower our life quality, or, as the name implies, limit us in some way.
A few examples of limiting beliefs could be: I’m bad at math, I’m a lousy driver, I’m a bad partner, I’m lousy at dating, I’m inherently awkward in social situations, and so forth.
In general, most people think that they can’t change their limiting beliefs. However, this is a delusion. Despite the prevailing societal consensus, we actually can overcome our limiting beliefs. But, don’t get me wrong; this is not easy. On the contrary, it’s a long-winding and challenging feat.
Nevertheless, whining about how hard this is won’t do us much good. Let’s shift to being proactive instead.
Below, I’ve outline three powerful steps that you can implement in your day-to-day life that will help you surmount most of your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones.
1. CONSIDER IF a LIMITING BELIEF SERVES YOU OR NOT
Let’s say that throughout primary and high school, most professors kept telling you that you’re bad at math. And let’s say that you also kept getting bad grades in math exams and even failed half of them throughout the same period.
Now, X years later, you’re working in accounting (a very math-oriented profession) yet still believing you suck at math. As you could predict, this belief keeps you stuck in a perpetual cycle of poor work performance. So, how can you begin to overcome it?
Well, here’s step one. Ponder on the consequences of your limiting belief and determine if it is helpful and beneficial or not.
To find this out, ask yourself, “What good am I getting from this belief? Is this piece of information holding me back from achieving my goals or not? Is this piece of information pushing me forward or backward?”
By asking these questions, you’re not labeling your limiting belief as true or false but simply exploring if the overall idea of it serves you. In our example, it does not. With this understanding, you now have a good reason to dislodge your limiting belief and replace it with a new and empowering one.
As a side note, even though most people realize that they have a limiting belief, not many know how much or how little that belief realistically harms them.
2. question the validity of a limiting belief
After you’ve grasped all the mary-ways your limiting belief keeps screwing you over, it’s time to find out if it’s actually true. To get to the bottom of this, you need to ask yourself even more questions.
In our case, these could be, “When did I first begin believing that I’m bad at math? Can I prove to myself that I’m bad at math? What instances and events prove to me and show me that I’m bad at math?”
While asking yourself these things, carefully observe your childhood events (especially the negative ones), for that is, like I said, the source of most limiting beliefs.
It’s also proven that if you write the questions you’re asking yourself and their answers about your beliefs on a piece of paper, you will have an easier time examining them objectively and with more clarity.
Another alternative (or addon technique) to this second step is simply asking yourself, “what if I’m wrong about XYZ belief.”
For example: “What if I’m wrong about my math-skills? What if they are not as bad as I think they are?”
Most of the time, when you carefully and thoroughly examine and question a particular limiting belief, you realize that it is only a mirage — a false or semi-false generalization you formed out of past experiences. When you realize this, all that’s left is to dislodge the bad belief and adopt a new and better one, that takes its place.
3. dislodge and replace the limiting BELIEF
Let’s talk about dislodging the old belief first. To do this, you need to conclude that it’s harmful and false and decide to drop it. Then you need to keep deciding not to take it back.
Obviously, this is way easier said than done. Primarily because we are used to our beliefs — limiting or not. We are often even so attached to them that losing them feels like losing a part of our identity, a part of the self.
I’m not saying dropping a bad belief is impossible; it is possible. It’s just insanely difficult and takes a relatively long time.
When adopting a new belief (in our case: I’m not that bad at math), the most vital part is understanding that it is frail at the start. This is because you have little to no references fuelling it. Meaning you have little to no evidence that shows and proves to your brain, “Hey, you’re not that bad at math, buster.”
Therefore, what you need to do, is start accumulating as many (and as fast as possible) references or pieces of evidence that will show and prove to your brain that this new belief you’ve adopted is legit.
In our case, a reference could be a solid grade on a math test, a high score on a math-oriented computer-game (i.e., 2084), or simply a compliment from our boss about some math-riddled-accounting-project we’ve done.
In general, the more new references you acquire for your new belief, the stronger it will become. Soon, it will become your new reality.
To conclude, there are many other ways you can go about overcoming your limiting beliefs. And a lot of those ways work! The steps I described above are simply those that worked for me and most of my clients.
Ultimately, whatever method of overcoming your limiting beliefs you chose, the road is always the same. Changing limiting beliefs is hard work that requires a lot of grit, dedication, and time. And the bigger your limiting beliefs are, the more elbow grease you have to put into changing them. Just know that it is possible to change them. In fact, never forget that.