“You’ll Never Rise Any Higher Than The Way You See Yourself” Joel Osteen
In the last two blogs What are limiting beliefs, and Where do limiting beliefs come from,
we broke down what limiting beliefs are, and where they come from. I want to dive into identifying your own limiting beliefs. You have gained the background information on the topic and developed and understanding of how limiting beliefs are created, now is the time to use that knowledge to find what is holding you back so that you can dismantle these harmful limiting beliefs and cultivate new positive and self-affirming beliefs that will carry you to being the best version of yourself. This is the part of the process that requires introspective thought, and a willingness to be totally and completely honest with yourself.
I saw this in an article last week by Connie Mathers called How to Identify and Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs* and loved the way the author described our beliefs and how they manifest within us. “Beliefs are conditioned impressions that stem from how you’ve interpreted prior experiences of pain and pleasure over time. By assigning a feeling or emotion to people, circumstances, and past incidents, we create the foundations of our beliefs. Therefore, these beliefs act as psychological cues to your nervous system that mold your thoughts and interpret your experiences. They link your mind and body, and your thoughts with your behaviors.” *https://www.developgoodhabits.com/limiting-beliefs/
When we are young the limiting beliefs instilled may have served a purpose for keeping you safe, but as you grow these beliefs become barriers and restraints to your personal growth and success. So, how do you identify what your limiting beliefs are? Honestly, there are many ways to go about this, I will share a few below, but do some digging, try a couple methods and see which ones resonate the most with you.
We are each unique so there is no one right way to get from point A to point B.
Assess your beliefs:
The first method is a more methodical approach. Here you take the time to write down your beliefs. Look for beliefs that you have a strong connection with and that guide your daily life. Categorize these beliefs into where they fit into your life. (i.e. family, money, relationships, career, health etc.). I bet you will start to see patterns in your beliefs, especially within specific categories, pay extra attention to these patterns. Once you have a list of your beliefs, take some time to really reflect on them. Differentiate between facts and perception. Identify which are healthy life beliefs and boundaries, and which ones are hindering you from making progress.
For example, I have the limiting belief that I am a terrible public speaker, thus I avoid it at all costs.
Literally, I once convinced a teacher to let me roommate do my presentation in a college course for me so that I didn’t have to speak. I tried taking a shot before a 9am class to fortify my nerves for a speech I had to give (BAD choice!). I became a master at avoiding public speaking until my last year at college. I had to speak in front of a lecture hall of 300+ students, all the while convincing myself that I couldn’t do it, and only did it because it was short, and I didn’t know hardly anyone in the room and it was a faceless mass. Then my last semester at college I had to do a 15-minute presentation in front of my small class, all of whom I had spent a lot of time with, and guess what I did it and had a blast. Yet, somehow after those two experiences I was still convinced that I could not do public speaking. Now fast-forward fourteen years and I have been asked to present at a big conference in New York City. I originally said no because “I am terrible at public speaking”, then I realized that I am missing out on an amazing opportunity to advocate for a population and cause that I am incredibly passionate about all because I believe I suck at public speaking. So, I have been diving into this limiting belief and trying to unpack it.
Here is how my process is going (it is still a work in progress):
As a child I had no fear of performing. I loved performing in school musicals, I was often the lead in plays and programs. Then one year I became more self-conscious, as we all do. It was right about that time that my mom thought it was time to tell me that I am a terrible singer. This was just after I performed a solo at church during a program. Well, that revelation then freed my siblings to tell me that it was true I cannot carry a tune (fyi not a limiting belief just a truth I am not a skilled singer lol). They also, like any loving sibling proceeded to mimic my performance, hand gestures (I had a flair for dramatics at the time) and off key singing as well. I was so embarrassed. I was dure everyone else was mocking me too. The next time an opportunity came about to be in a play I did it but said no solos. Unfortunately, my part required one, so I set about convincing my co-star to sing a few of my lines to keep my voice to a minimum. All of this grew as I grew until I refused to step on a stage. Heck, I didn’t even enjoy dancing in front of a crowd anymore. That one performance where my family chose to mock and mimic me set me on a course of being terrified of being in front of anyone. Boom, a limiting belief that I suck at public speaking was born and it runs so deep. Now I am here almost 18 years later and still feel sick at the thought of public speaking yet looking down the barrel at an amazing opportunity to share my passion, and I am realizing I need to address my limiting belief and stop restricting myself. Will it be easy no, but do I want to hide from opportunities, no! But here is the truth once upon a time I LOVED the spotlight, and although I couldn’t sing great, I could memorize lines and perform in front of crowds no issue and well enough to repeatedly get parts, yet one time I let one set of negative voices dictate what I believed in myself. It is crazy when you take the time to list out limiting beliefs and dig into their roots the truths you can uncover, and they are freeing! Now, I am off to start writing a speech and recruiting anyone I an to sit in front of me so I can practice for my event!
Assess your behavior:
Look back at the way you behave, specifically look at times when you have behaved negatively or in a toxic manner. Look at your behavior and dig down to see where it came from. Was this behavior rooted in a limiting belief? For example, I grew up in a toxic environment where guilt was used as a weapon. This left me with a guilt complex and an overwhelming desire to people please. Unfortunately, this also meant that I never stood up for myself and hid from confrontation or even sharing my honest opinions. This in turn hurt relationships in my life. By never being honest or addressing an issue I wasn’t able to be the real me, and always felt like I took the back seat. I felt that I was just the kind of person that no one liked or cared about. I wouldn’t disagree or ask for something for myself because I believed that would be selfish and upset others, so I kept quiet. When in reality, by not voicing an opinion and ending up in situations where I was uncomfortable and miserable, I ruined it for everyone, myself included. Also, how can you hope to attract true meaningful relationships if you never share who you are? My behaviors in social settings or get togethers came from this underlying sense of I am not worthy of anything so I will not ask for anything, but that left me feeling unhappy and like an outsider. I remember my husband getting so mad at me one time because I wouldn’t stand up for myself, I said “look it’s just me, it is ok if she is mean or hurtful, I can take it and it’s just me so no need to make a big deal of it. If she ever says something like that to someone else, I will say something, but as long as it is just me, we can let it go”. He had a lot to say about that…so did my therapist. I realized through that process that my behaviors were rooted in limiting beliefs of my self-worth and were holding me back from meaningful relationships.
Assess challenges in your life:
If you continually come up against a specific challenge, this could indicate a limiting belief. For example, if every job you get is a dead-end position and you are unhappy at. It could be a limiting belief that you hold that is keeping you from applying for a job/position that you really want to do. So, you continually settle for positions that you don’t really want, because you do not feel like you are smart enough, experienced enough, etc., and therefore never even apply for jobs that you feel excited about.
Look for places where you find yourself making excuses, procrastinating, making instant assumptions, complaining, engaging in negative self-talk/thinking patterns and dive into them.
Thoughts or comments like:
I am a…
I am not…enough
I have to…
I don’t have…
People like me aren’t supposed to…
I don’t deserve…
I will level with you guys this part of the process can be pretty rough, but it is so worth it. It is all fine and good to gather knowledge but if you do not apply it, what good is it? Having the ability to look at yourself and analyze your actions is a critical skill, and one that takes some practice. But, at the end of the day no one cares about your dreams and goals as much as you do, and only you can make them happen so let’s face those limiting beliefs head on so we can reshape them and move towards being the best versions of ourselves. Show up for your life without the restraints of limiting beliefs and see where you go!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will dive into ways to overcome limiting beliefs.