Someone having limiting beliefs about themselves and what they can or cannot do is one of the main things that is keeping many people from having the success that they want. To make things even worse, people are often not aware of these limiting beliefs, making it impossible to overcome them.
If you know you can do more than you’re doing right now but somehow feel stuck, you may be a victim having limiting self-beliefs as well.
So in this post, I’m going to share with you how you may have gotten some limiting beliefs even if you’re not aware of them. More importantly, I’m going to share with you how you can overcome limiting beliefs or transform them into empowering beliefs about yourself, what you can do or the world around you.
Trust the process and know that overcoming limiting beliefs is possible for you!
How your beliefs are formed
Before we dive into programming your brain for success and getting rid of beliefs that aren’t helpful, we need to look at how your beliefs and self-image are formed.
It’s important to remember that the way you see things isn’t the way they actually are.
A good example of this was the idea of the 4-minute mile. People used to see it as impossible to do, but in 1954 Roger Bannister managed to do it for the first time. After proving it was possible, lots more people have been able to do it, proving that it was possible. Contrary to popular belief back then.
To best illustrate how your beliefs (both) good and bad are created, I’ll use a couple of examples:
Imagine growing up as a kid and going to school. Perhaps you were in a class with a couple of bookworms, people that love to read and study. But there were also a couple of mean kids, bullies.
These bullies would normally pick on the “nerdy” kids. The kids that like to study, like to read and want to get good grades. As humans, we’re very social creatures, which means that we want to fit in with other people. And so, you want to fit in to avoid being labeled as one of the “nerds”. You’ll get to dislike learning and reading, and feel you’re not the studying kind of person!
Even though this is a hypothetical example, there are thousands, if not millions of people who have gotten that limiting belief in their minds. Even though learning new things continuously is literally pretty much best thing you can do in your life!
The beliefs about yourself you might hold today may very well have become from when you were just a kid.
Often they’re not true or relevant anymore, yet we still can get held back by them.
Another way in which we shape our self-image, our beliefs and the way we see ourselves is through suggestions both by ourselves and others.
Let’s say you have very demanding parents who want you to do well. They are constantly pushing you to do better and better or telling you that something isn’t good enough yet (because they see a bigger potential). This may lead to you unconsciously forming the limiting belief that you’re not good enough.
Even well-meant remarks like that repeated over and over can have harmful results.
One important thing to keep in mind here:
We can often strengthen these beliefs ourselves, if we’re not aware of the way your mind works. When you say to yourself or others something like “I’m a procrastinator”, you reinforce the belief that you actually are.
We’ll go into changing your beliefs and overcoming limiting beliefs later on, but for now remember to be mindful of the words you use and try to avoid negative wordings to describe yourself. If you tell yourself you can’t do it, you’re going to perform worse than having confidence beforehand.
One of the crucial things about your beliefs that I have learned from studying NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is that a belief gets ingrained in your unconscious way easier when you are in a highly emotional state. This can be both a very positive state or a negative one.
Let’s say you just had a breakup.
You’re in a sad state already, since you loved this person and now it’s over. Perhaps this person said some mean things during breaking up, maybe saying you’re not attractive or a boring person. Maybe it’s something way worse that they have told you at that time.
While normally you may be able to laugh it off, when you’re in an emotional state like that, it may cause you to pick up their comments as being true, which could result in a limiting belief like “I’m not charismatic enough to get to find happiness with someone else”.
Now you see how your limiting beliefs may have gotten into your mind. You may still be unaware of what they are exactly, so that’s what we’re going over next.
How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs
So the thing is you want to become more successful, you want to get more out of your life, and you know you’re meant for something better! You just want to live a happy life and feel fulfilled about it. And that’s why we need to get rid of those nagging doubts about yourself.
For this, I’m going to teach you my EDIFY framework.
This is a 5-step system for overcoming the limiting beliefs that you may not even know you have!
Step 1: Expose Your Limited Beliefs
Know thy enemy!
Sit down somewhere in a quiet place where you will not be bothered. You will need some quiet time to think about what you want and what you think is getting in your way.
This will not be a pleasant thing to do, as thinking of your fears and beliefs that are holding you back can be painful. However, it is absolutely necessary that you go through this exercise if you want to get rid of them. You first need to know what beliefs you hold before you can fight them.
Ask yourself questions like:
“Why have I not achieved this goal yet? What do I feel is holding me back? What things do I fear most? How do I feel about an important area of life (career, finance/money, health, social life, etc.)? Can I think of any limiting belief that I have?”
Anything at all that comes to mind goes.
What I want you to do is to write down these beliefs for your own reference. There is no need yet to go deep into the causes, or why you feel that way just yet. Just write them down for now and continue to step 2 once you feel you got the most important ones.
This will be your list of limiting beliefs to get rid of.
Step 2: Discover the Source
The next step is to examine the belief more carefully.
With your newly created list, I want you to go over each of the items. Take some time to carefully examine how the belief might have gotten formed in your mind. You want to find the experiences at the root of your limiting beliefs. A good question to ask yourself is “Why do I feel this way?” and then look at the answer your mind will give you.
If needed, repeat that question a few times until you get to the bottom of it.
Once you do this, you will find context. You’re no longer facing something just thinking “that’s how it is”, you now know the source of your limiting belief. This alone might help you feel a lot better about it! After all, you now have more context and can rationalize things.
When thinking about it objectively, is something that happened when you were 8 really that relevant today? Does it really matter if someone rejected you when you were a teen? You aren’t at that point in your life anymore! Ask yourself how you really feel about it now that you have been able to put things into perspective?
Hopefully, this should already make things feel a bit better, but we’re not done yet.
Step 3: Invalidate Your Limiting Belief
The next part is to disprove your belief.
What you want to do is create a case against it, carefully finding pieces of evidence to get your belief locked up once and for all!
Let me give you some examples to illustrate:
If you feel you aren’t good at all at playing guitar, think of a moment where you played something for someone else and they liked it. When people enjoy your music, it’s a sign that you are a decent player at least.
What if you feel you can’t succeed at building your own business? Ask yourself: Have there been people that were in a similar (or worse) position than myself, that DID manage to succeed? If they can do it, so can you! It might just involve a bit of a learning curve.
For me personally, looking back at feeling insecure after being bullied. I can take a closer look myself and say I’m a way more confident, social and in general, better person than I was back then. The self-image of not being good enough is in the past, it’s not me anymore!
Watch this if you want to become a stronger person mentally:
Get the idea?
More likely than not, you have either grown since the belief was formed, noticed some big flaw in it, found some role model that proved that what you want to achieve is very possible, or in some other way refute your limiting belief!
Step 4: Formulate Empowering Beliefs!
Now it’s time to form new beliefs about yourself, your goals or your situation.
My suggestion would be to spend some time to formulate these and then write them down, and edit them until you are satisfied with them.
I think the best way to show you how to reform your limiting beliefs into something positive and powerful! Whatever you may think the problem is, you can create a more powerful belief out of it!
Limiting Belief: “I don’t have time to start my own business.”
New belief: “I make time for the things in my life that are important to me!”
Limiting Belief: “I’m not good enough to succeed…”
New Belief: “I am worthy of success, because I am enough and willing to work relentlessly for what I want. Moreover, every single day I’m making progress to become the best version of myself I can be!”
Limiting Belief : “Other people hate me, so I don’t want to put myself out there.”
New Belief: “I am who I am and I LOVE me! It is okay that not everyone likes me, because I don’t need to be friends with everyone and only spend my time with those that appreciate me and see my inner beauty.”
The last one helped me a lot, as it was a personal issue.
I’ll admit that at the time, I didn’t have the “EDIFY” framework, like you do now. The positive change began where I decided I didn’t care about the bullies, that they were fucking nobodies to me and (perhaps arrogantly) that I would become way more successful than all of them together!
Don’t underestimate the power of your new beliefs!
Unfortunately, I can’t create your beliefs for you, because I don’t know what you’re struggling with. However, the examples above should give you some inspiration and guidance to form your new empowering beliefs.
Step 5: Your Immersion
Finally, you need to emerge yourself into your new beliefs.
It doesn’t matter how great or powerful your new “beliefs” are, if you only state them once as part of the previous steps, and then forget about it, you never actually adopt those beliefs. You can’t just tell yourself these things just once and expect miracles to happen.
You need repetition and immersion!
In order to make these beliefs your own, you could do a couple of things:
The first thing I would recommend doing is to state them every day as personal affirmations. Meaning you tell yourself every single day, at a couple of times during that day. Additionally, you could also write them down.
Another action would be to surround yourself with things and people that inspire you and encourage you to believe in and act upon your new beliefs.
This can come in many forms.
You could frame personal statements and hang them on your wall or a post-it note just under your computer screen. You can read books, blogs, listen to podcasts or watch videos on YouTube that inspire you. You can get around others that encourage and inspire you to greatness.
Whatever works for you to keep your new beliefs top of mind DAILY.
Finally, I would recommend getting rid of things and people that would enforce the old limiting beliefs you’re trying to ditch, or try to tune them out as much as possible. If they are given the chance, they will prevent any change of your beliefs!
Put yourself first!
It might mean cutting out toxic people in your life, or at least limiting your interaction with them. Yes, I know this might be a tough (but necessary) decision to make, because I had to make it myself as well. It’s never a fun thing to do, but it can be one of the best choices of your life.
A problem for me was my dad.
He’s not exactly open to things off the “normal” path, so when, years ago, I talked about starting something for myself, he shot it down pretty hard. These days, I still see him and speak to him, however I do not talk about business or things I know he wouldn’t approve of.
It’s best to avoid the negativity.
In short, what you want to do is to immerse yourself in your new beliefs and surround yourself with things that positively encourage you and the traits you want to take on. Meanwhile, try to limit negative influences as much as possible!
It won’t happen overnight, but overcoming limiting beliefs is definitely possible for you!
If you take anything from this guide, let it be the understanding of how beliefs are often formed.
Let it be you understanding that the voice in your head that doubts you, or that thinks you can’t, is NOT your voice! It’s an echo of fears and doubt that other people have instilled in you. Don’t let their voices guide your life!
Then use the EDIFY method to form empowering beliefs:
- Expose limiting beliefs
- Discover the source
- Invalide the limiting belief
- Form empowering beliefs
- Your Immersion
Many of the things that you think hold you from reaching your next level are just in your head. It is the glass ceiling you should aim to smash by changing your beliefs and moving forward more empowered and stronger than ever!
While it will take some time to really adopt these new beliefs, you can do it!