“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right” Henry Ford
Little Suzie was standing on top of her dresser, wearing her Wonder Woman cape, poised to take flight, soaring across the room to her waiting bed, filled with stuffed animals needing to be rescued! Suzie can picture her feat of flight and hasn’t a glimmer of doubt that she can indeed save Mr. Giraffe from the clutches of the evil Scar! Just as she is ready to take to the sky her mom shouts as she rushes in grabbing her off the dresser! When her mom asks what she was doing up there, Suzie explains she was going to fly across her room. Her mother hugs her lovingly and explains to her how dangerous that was, and that people cannot fly. Enter Suzie’s first limiting belief!
Kids are fearless ready to take on anything, born risk-takers. Have you ever watched a kid try to perform some task way beyond their ability or size? Then you know that kids inherently believe in themselves. It is as we grow up that these ideas are put in our heads from things in our environment.
For instance, when my oldest was 18 months old our car battery died. My husband had bought a new battery for the car, and it was sitting in a box by our door, soon I hear my kids grunting like crazy, and there she was trying with all her might to pick up the battery. She was determined and truly believed she could do it. Or my youngest told me she could get her own cup…out of the upper cabinet in the kitchen. I watched as my shorty girl jumped with all her might convinced that she could do it saying, “mom I get it myself” as her little feet got less than 6 inches off the floor and the shelf still several feet out of reach, she still believed with her whole heart that she could do it!
Slowly over time, we witness shifts in their understanding and ideas about the world around them. Suddenly they are anxious about heights, they become self-conscious when caught belting out ‘Let it go’ while sitting on the toilet, and so on. So, what happened, what changed? Our kids learned limiting beliefs. Some are good and necessary for safety; others are negative and confining. Often the limiting beliefs are a product of well-meaning words and actions that are internalized by a child with a child’s reasoning abilities and understanding.
So, what are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the stores we tell ourselves about ourselves that keep us from reaching our fullest potential. They are a belief or state of mind about yourself that restricts you in some way. These beliefs are generally rooted in negativity and fear, which keep us from experiencing new opportunities. These beliefs are often false and are negative forces in your life.
Some common limiting beliefs are:
I don’t have time: “I am just too busy to take on that new position.”
I’m not strong enough: “I’m not strong enough to handle the rejection if I don’t get the job.”
I don’t have what it takes: “You have to be type A to succeed, and I just am not that person.”
I’m not smart enough: “All the people on that team are so smart there is no way I make this pitch.”
I don’t deserve it: “I failed that test; I do not deserve to be an XYZ…”
I’m not a leader: “No one will listen to me; I am not someone that people naturally follow.”
I’m too old (or too young): “I can’t go back to school; I will look like Billy Maddison!”
Originally, I planned to share my thoughts on limiting beliefs in one blog, however, as I wrote the topic came alive and I realized this wasn’t something I wanted to just skim over. It wasn’t something I wanted to share a snip about. This is a topic I want to dig into and explore over time with each of you. I am writing this post on March 8th which is so ironic to me. March 8th is Women’s Day! And although anyone and everyone can experience limiting beliefs, I see women carrying so many more than men. As women, we are groomed by society to make ourselves smaller and are viewed through a societal lens that often diminishes us, and fosters limiting beliefs to our core! For example, no one has ever asked my military husband if he feels guilty going to work each day and possibly for long time spans, yet how many working moms get asked how we deal with the guilt of being away from our kids… yup society inserted the limiting belief that moms, not dads need to be in the home! Or how many times has society labeled a man as passionate for loudly standing up for himself or for his beliefs, only to turn around and call a woman hysterical for the same thing? Enter the limiting belief that women cannot be passionate or speak out, we make ourselves smaller to make others comfortable. Society is full of ideas that encourage limiting beliefs. Sidenote: Yes, society pushes limiting beliefs on males as well but as a woman myself and as we are celebrating Women’s Day, I am focusing on that today! Let’s take this month, this month dedicated to appreciating women, and break down those limiting beliefs and take hold of our destiny!
Before I sign off I just want to drop this here...
In my next blog, we will be diving into where our limiting beliefs come from (for all people no matter gender identification) and how they impact us.