“The only limits you have are the limits you believe.” – Wayne Dyer
During my time as a life coach, a recurring theme I observed was limiting beliefs.
It was a common trend; the woman who didn’t believe she was beautiful enough to be truly loved. The teenager who didn’t think she was smart enough to ace her tests and get into a good college. The man who was afraid to start his own business because he believed he didn’t have what it takes to lead others successfully.
Even though their specific situations were different, there was a common thread. Each one of them was convinced that they had no control over their lives and that it was something external that blocking them. Things like bad genetics, a lack of intelligence and skills, a difficult childhood, etc.
Their reasoning led to learned helplessness, blinding them from seeing solutions. This is not to make light of these limitations and challenges in their outer worlds (they are real and must be taken into consideration), but they can’t be overcome without the right mindset. Most people don’t realize the extent to which deep-seated beliefs in their minds control the direction of their lives. Master life coach, Tony Robbins, says that our beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy.
A belief is a feeling that we have about what something means or signifies. Our beliefs are the roadmap we consult when making choices in virtually every aspect of our lives, from the type of food we eat to the political party that we choose to support. All the decisions you’ve made thus far have been based on the beliefs you have. Even if someone else made a decision for you, you had a belief that it was okay for them to do that.
In his book “Sapiens,” historian Yuval Noah Harari states that the human brain is run by “biological algorithms” which evolved at the whim of natural selection over millions of years. Much like a computer that’s hard-wired with codes and commands, our mind gets shaped by belief systems that strengthen as we age. When we lack awareness, our lives run on autopilot based on what we’ve internalized.
You can think of a limiting belief as a virus that throws your whole system off balance. It can make you irrational, anxious, pessimistic, cynical, and fearful. It’s a belief that’s acquired due to an incorrect assessment about something that happened to you. For example, if you were bullied as a child, you may have developed a limiting belief that people won’t accept you. When you grow up with this belief, it can cause you to dim your light and avoid competing with others.
When we fail to question these beliefs, we pay a hefty price. It causes us to miss out on things that we want most, and it can blind us from seeing and being open to viable opportunities for our growth and personal abundance. The good news is that we can reduce, and eventually eliminate, the impact our limiting beliefs have on us by becoming conscious whenever it creeps up to the surface. Awareness shines a light and enables us to replace them with new empowering beliefs.
Our minds determine the levels of success we’ll reach. The difference between the person who achieves stratospheric success and the one who stays in the shadows is not their circumstances, but the beliefs that they have about themselves and their capabilities. It’s the story that they tell themselves and the thoughts they choose to harvest in the soil of their mind.
Elie Wiesel who live through the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, Nelson Mandela who was incarcerated for 30 years, and Oprah, who grew up in the deep rural south where her growth wasn’t supported, came out of their challenging environments and thrived. They did not allow circumstance to dictate who they were or what they could and could not do with their lives. They became captains of their ships by becoming captains of their mental domains.
The first step to empowerment is weeding out any limiting beliefs that are blocking you, and replacing them with empowering beliefs. These are the five most common limiting beliefs:
1. “I’m not good enough”: This is a universal limiting belief that everyone has felt at some point. We worry whether we’re good enough for a professional opportunity, a person, or anything else we consider valuable. The obvious manifestation of this belief are feelings of insecurity, but it can also show up as procrastination, anxiety, and perfectionism. This belief is detrimental to our progress because it will make us hesitant to take risks that help us grow.
Replace with this empowering belief: I’m more than capable of achieving my desires and dreams.
2. “People will judge or won’t accept the real me”: Having this belief will influence us to conform to the expectations of others and hide our true selves. Most people-pleasers, and those living in rigid environments that require obedience, are most susceptible to having this belief. Suppressing our authenticity makes us feel resentful for being a fraud and betraying ourselves.
Replace with this empowering belief: The right people will appreciate, love, and encourage me to embrace my true self.
3. “I don’t have enough time”: This has become a common limiting belief because of the busyness of modern life. We get overwhelmed with all the demands on our time from work, family, and other commitments. We immediately dismiss the possibility that we could have time for anything else. Usually, it’s our wellness practices and leisure activities such as workouts, meditation, self-care practices, and hobbies, that get omitted. Basically, anything that brings us joy. People who develop this belief don’t realize that it comes down to prioritization and time-management.
Replace with this empowering belief: I have more than enough time. I make the best of every moment when I’m focused and fully present.
4. “I lack the skills/looks/knowledge/qualities/resources to achieve my goal”: In the age of social media where everyone posts glossed up versions of themselves and their lifestyle, it’s easy to get intimidated by what we see. Seeing the perfect version of people online can deplete our confidence and make us give up on any goals that require us to put ourselves out there and face the competition. Whether it’s applying for a job or entering the dating circuit, if we believe that we lack what it takes to succeed, we’ve lost the game even before playing it.
Replace with this empowering belief: I have a lot to offer. Expressing my gifts to the best of my ability attracts more abundance in my life.
5. “I need to have ____ to be happy in my life”: This limiting belief kills any chance of experiencing joy. People with this belief postpone their happiness to a distant future, when they meet their dream partner, earn a certain amount of money, lose weight, heal from past wounds, etc. Only then will they give themselves permission to experience true joy. Those dreams glisten on the horizon like a pot of gold behind a rainbow. In their pursuit, they miss the opportunity to experience bliss in the here and now because they don’t think that it’s possible.
Replace with this empowering belief: I embody happiness wherever I am. I can access joy and boundless positive energy in every moment. I am grateful.
By becoming aware of your limiting beliefs, you have won half the battle. When you become conscious of your thoughts, you’ll have the ability to let go of the beliefs that don’t empower you and shift them. Like an artist, you’ll pick the most harmonious colors to paint on the canvas of your mind, and ultimately create a beautiful masterpiece.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Can you think of any limiting beliefs that are blocking your abundance? Which empowering beliefs can you replace them with?
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