Every one of us has the potential to be successful and happy. But many of us feel that we are not living our lives to the fullest, using all of our talents and gifts. We are aware that some of our negative beliefs are holding us back from success in our careers. We know that our relationships could be more rewarding if we weren’t haunted by old hurts and insecurities. The good news is that it’s possible to heal. By identifying our own self-limiting beliefs, we can also learn that many of them are false. Once we recognize our self-limiting beliefs for the lies that they are, we can move forward in positivity.
Issue #1: Fear That You’re Not Good Enough
Most people’s fears are based on a belief of not being good enough. You may feel like a phony or an impostor. But the truth is that most people lack self confidence to some degree. Even some very successful and talented famous people, like Barbra Streisand and Maya Angelou, reportedly deal with feelings of insecurity. The belief that you’re not good enough can be enough to keep you from even trying to go after what you want.
To combat this fear, focus on some of the things that you do really well. Are you a great cook? The best kisser? Are you great at changing a flat tire or making little kids laugh? Nobody else has the exact same combination of skills and qualities that you do.
Issue #2: Success Is Scary
It’s always safer to stay with what we know. Many of us are afraid of success because we’ve watched the downfalls of successful people we know. If we know 10 successful people and one loses everything, it’s the failure of the tenth person that we remember and dwell upon. We focus on worst-case scenarios and negative what-ifs that hold us back from success.
You can move past this fear of success by focusing on examples of people who have achieved what you want. When you find doubt and fear creeping back in, remind yourself of the fact that your results will not be the same as anyone else’s. If others failed, you can succeed, even in the exact same thing.
Issue #3: Someone Else’s Voice Is in Your Head
We adopt other people’s limiting beliefs all the time. Whether we’re haunted by the opinions of an overly critical mother or an unsupportive ex-girlfriend, it’s easy to pick up baggage and other people’s beliefs. Many of our beliefs form in childhood. The things other people have said to us and about us become tapes that we replay over and over in our heads. Not surprisingly, most of these tapes tell us we’re worthless or incapable in some way.
The good news is that you don’t have to live with these negative feedback loops forever. You can change them with some conscious effort. Train your thoughts to recognize when you’re being negative and to ask yourself if there’s any truth in the beliefs. If there’s not, you can undo them by replacing negative tapes with positive ones. For example, if you have a negative belief that says, “I shouldn’t approach this cute girl because I have fat knees,” you might realize that the thoughts about your knees come from an ex who wanted to tear you down. Replace it with a more positive thought like, “I will approach this woman and I may be just her type. I’m attractive and worthy, and anyone could like me.”
Issue #4: You’re Making Excuses
Excuses are one of the top ways we sabotage ourselves from going after what we really want. Even if we don’t think anyone else’s voice is in our heads and we aren’t consciously afraid of success, we still may not be getting what we want. It can be very frustrating when you think you have everything lined up just right and yet you still aren’t seeing the results you want.
However, there’s an easy trick to identify what your limiting beliefs might be. Ask yourself why you haven’t been successful yet and listen to the answers you get back. You may want to do this as an exercise with a friend and say it out loud or try writing it down in a journal. Chances are good that you’ll find out what’s really been holding you back.
Issue #5: Your Biases Are Holding You Back
Most of what we think of as self-limiting beliefs pertain to ourselves. We think we aren’t smart enough or talented enough. We don’t belong in this group of successful people. That hot woman couldn’t possibly think we’re cute. We aren’t going to succeed in this venture. All of these negative beliefs about ourselves may be deeply rooted, but we can change them.
However, something else may also be holding us back, and that’s what we believe about others. How many times have we completely written off a person or situation based on assumptions we’ve made about them? Maybe you tell yourself that an attractive woman isn’t worth pursuing because she’s probably dumb. Or maybe that it’s not worth applying for that job because you would probably have to work more hours, and then you wouldn’t get to have as much time for Netflix. This one is easy: Remember to give new people and situations a chance. Don’t make assumptions about things you don’t know.
Your self-limiting beliefs may be holding you back, but a little bit of effort and self-awareness (and the help of a good therapist if necessary) can set you free.