Do you feel like you’re missing out in life or wish you could do certain things that you just aren’t cut out for?
If you’re sitting on the sidelines in your own life, chances are you have limiting beliefs.
What you say about yourself dictates what you believe. Not surprisingly, your beliefs have a direct impact on your life and how you feel about yourself.
If you constantly say that you can’t do something, you will continue to believe that you can’t and won’t even try.
When you sabotage yourself with limiting thoughts you put yourself in a box and live in your comfort zone. As a result, you won't see the success or experience the fulfillment that you truly desire.
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the untrue thoughts, mindsets, and opinions that you believe about yourself or your life that limit you in some way and ultimately have a negative impact on your life.
They help shape your personality, influence your behavior, and are the filter through which you interpret different situations.
Over time they can become a defense mechanism that you subconsciously activate when you want to avoid a certain negative feeling or experience, such as procrastinating on a project because you don't want to risk messing it up and feeling like a failure.
Whether it’s a simple statement like, “I’m not good at math” or something more extreme like, “I’ll never find the love of my life,” limiting beliefs come in many forms and keep you from reaching your full potential.
For example, if you've always wanted to run a marathon but tell yourself that you can’t because you're not a good runner, that's a limiting belief that is keeping you from what you really want.
The truth is that with practice you can run well and participate in a marathon, but the belief that you can't keeps you from doing so.
The Most Common Limiting Beliefs
Everyone has their own sets of self-sabotaging thoughts, but they usually start with “I can’t/don’t/won’t” or “I’m not” statements.
Some of the most common limiting beliefs are:
- “I can’t or could never do/be/have/act like that.”
- “I’m not talented/attractive/smart/young/old enough.”
- “I don’t have enough time/money/help.”
- “I will fail so there’s no point in even trying.”
- “I’m just not cut out for X, Y, or Z.”
Thankfully there are ways to overcome any limiting belief so that you can live the life you want and stop settling for the one that keeps you in your comfort zone.
11 Tips for Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
1. Identify Them and How They Impact Your Life
Self-awareness is the first step to overcoming your limiting beliefs so it makes sense that you need to first identify yours and how they impact you and your life as a whole.
You can start identifying how you sabotage yourself by asking yourself questions and observing your thoughts throughout the day.
What are some things you wish you could do, certain ways you wish you could act, or things that you wish you could have?
Follow up each answer with an example of how that belief limits you in life. How does it affect how you feel, show up in relationships or in your career, and so forth?
Getting clear on the negative effects of your self-limiting opinions will make you want to overcome them even more.
2. Learn Where They Come From
There are many reasons why you may have the limiting beliefs that you do, such as childhood experiences, a traumatic event, or a specific set of views that your parents raised you to believe.
When rewriting your limiting beliefs, it’s important to understand where they come from.
If you don’t understand their origin and why they’re an opinion in the first place, it’s going to be next to impossible to overcome them because you won't be aware of their patterns or when they're most likely to show up.
Whenever you notice a certain self-sabotaging thought come up, get curious about it and try to understand where it comes from.
You can try journaling, talking to a trusted friend or family member, or even hypnosis to understand the cause of your limiting beliefs.
3. Question and Reframe Them
Once you recognize your limiting beliefs and understand how they impact you and where they come from, you are able to challenge and reframe each one.
Next time one shows up, question its relevance and truth. Is it true? What makes it true? Why is it relevant to your situation? Now flip the script and ask yourself what becomes possible if the belief is false.
When you can admit that a certain thought or opinion is wrong or doesn't help you grow, you can reframe it into something more positive and helpful. If this limiting belief isn't true, what is? Find a better belief and reinforce it regularly.
4. Prove Yourself Wrong
Recognizing, questioning, and reframing your limiting beliefs are important, but will only get you so far. To make lasting change and to overcome your limiting beliefs, you need to face them head-on and prove them wrong.
Don't think you're good at math? Study it, take a test, and prove yourself wrong. Afraid to fail at a new business? Hire a business mentor, put together a plan, and try it anyway.
Action is the antidote to fear and limiting beliefs, so do the thing you have convinced yourself that you can’t do and prove your limiting beliefs wrong.
5. Adopt a Mindset of Curiosity and Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It's easy to be closed-minded and never stretch yourself but if you want to overcome your limiting beliefs you'll need to become curious.
Observing and questioning yourself, your life, your environment, and the world on a regular basis can help you see things from a different perspective.
You'll notice things are much more possible for you than you originally believed, gain confidence as you learn and explore, and thus will form new mindsets that help you succeed.
Try stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis and ask questions about things even if you think you know the answer.
Meditation creates space between you and your thoughts, allows you to connect with yourself, and helps you declutter your mind. It's also great for improving your mental well-being and nervous system, all of which are helpful for overcoming self-limiting beliefs.
There are many ways to get started with meditation and you don't need to be perfect at it or do it for long periods at a time.
Try adding in just five or ten minutes of meditation to your morning routine or when you feel limiting thoughts creep in. If you're a beginner, these meditation apps can help you get started.
Still don't love the idea of meditation but want the benefits? Try these ways of meditating for people that don't meditate.
7. Practice Mindfulness
When you practice mindfulness you intentionally choose your thoughts and responses. Being mindful about your thoughts is key to overcoming your limiting beliefs and building your resilience.
This is a skill that gets stronger the more you do it and there are lots of ways you can practice being more mindful.
Get started with some activities like coloring or mindful walking, use mindfulness apps, take a yoga class, and so forth. Hobbies like gardening are also great for practicing mindfulness.
8. Use Affirmations and Mantras
When overcoming your limiting beliefs, it’s important to replace them with new ones. You can do this by using positive affirmations and mantras.
Your negative opinions were formed over time and have made up your subconscious thoughts through repetition, so you'll need to reinforce your new beliefs by repeating them on a regular basis, too.
Find affirmations and mantras that resonate with you, print them out, and read them aloud or journal on them every day to reprogram your beliefs for ones that help you succeed in life.
9. Try a Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal basically forces you to see the good things in your life and about yourself, which will help you reframe your limiting beliefs and reinforce more positive ones.
Here are five of the best gratitude journals to change your perspective on life and increase positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.
10. Seek Personal Development As a Whole
Rewriting your limiting beliefs are only one piece of the puzzle to living your best life and reaching your fullest potential.
Seeking personal development as a whole will help you learn more about yourself, become more resilient, gain emotional regulation, and so much more.
You can achieve personal growth without spending a ton of time or money on it. Podcasts, books, and blogs can help you grow personally in a few minutes a day and in a fun, engaging way.
11. Get Counseling or Hire a Life Coach
If you are committed to reaching your fullest potential but can't seem to kick certain negative beliefs, you may want to consider signing up for counseling or hiring a life coach.
Even if you're great at being self-aware there will always be things that you can’t see about yourself. A counselor or life coach can see what you can't and where you're blocking yourself, including limiting beliefs and patterns. They can also hold you accountable and help you stay motivated when you need it most.
If you're self-sabotaging and want more out of life, try these tips for overcoming limiting beliefs. It's not easy, but with consistency and dedication, you can create new thoughts and patterns that help you reach your goals and live a life you're proud of.