‘Powerful’ is the word that comes to mind when thinking about self-limiting beliefs. Just by believing them, our life is weakened and depleted. We believe them and as a consequence we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. The number of limiting beliefs is infinite; they can be about ourselves, or our rights, duties, abilities, identity, permissions and so on.
My very personal opinion is that limiting beliefs are neither excuses nor defense mechanisms but a toxic mixture of both. They help us with the illusion of control. They give our life some kind of stability and a fake sensation of safety.
If you have a feeling that there’s more to life and you haven’t been able to put your finger on what’s holding you back, try identifying your very own precious limiting beliefs and challenging them a little (or a lot) to see what happens. Here are some basics that might help with the search:
#1 I could never do that.
Just a quick look at the life we have lived until now may help discard this one, and fast. Chances are most of us have done things that we thought we could never do or survive. We have more resilience than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. We envy others, those who evolve, progress or go after their dreams but think we can’t do the same.
Let’s acknowledge and accept the fact that we will always be afraid of change even if we need it and really want it. Fear is a survival response where the most primitive part of our brains tells us to stay inside the cave.
I have always disliked the: “It’s ok or it’s going to be ok”. A useless phrase because it’s inaccurate. What is ok is to “be brave and afraid at the same time” (as Brené Brown says). I prefer something like: “The _____________(fear, nerves, anxiety or pain) will not go away easily, you will still feel it, but you can do anything in spite of it or together with it”.
#2 Things usually go the wrong way for me.
Also a limiting belief based on fear from past experiences. I personally don’t believe anymore that things go wrong. Things go as they should even if they don’t go according to our expectations. Note that expectations usually turn into resentments or become disappointments. Expectations’ strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future only causes trouble. It is therefore a good idea to get rid of them too.
#3 It’s not in my genes.
A comfortable self-limiting belief which is nothing more than a generational learning. Of course we can often look back at our parents and grandparents and see that no one has attempted what we dream of doing. Well, be the first then and stop this limiting belief for generations to come.
#4 I will never find happiness until _____________ (I have the right weight, house, car, partner, degree, job).
I have to shamefully admit that sometimes I have temporarily fallen for this one. There’s so much collective pressure that it would be a lie to deny it. Well, neither with such an attitude nor with another fad diet (in my case) would I have achieved my goal. The simple explanation for this is that the concept is backwards.
Please believe me when I say it is backwards. Happiness is in the now, in the small moments, in how I am now, in what I can be and do now. Do not wait or put happiness and fulfillment on hold because there’s something you think you lack. Be all you can be now, live what you want to live now and the rest will come later while you go and work to achieve your goals without being miserable in the process.
#5 I am damaged goods/ I do not deserve/ I am not good enough
As they say: “Never be ashamed of a scar, it simply means you were stronger of whatever tried to hurt you”.
Everyone deserves a good life, happiness and health. Anyone who tells you otherwise or makes you feel this way is not worthy of your attention.
Besides, it’s true that we might be not good enough for something specific but be sure to check and see if you are not the only one who thinks so. Regardless of this, comparing yourself to others is never a good idea at all. Always remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.
To be continued…