I read a wonderful book recently called The Leadership Integrity Challenge by Edward Morler (if you’re interested, you can read my review of it on OfficeArrow here). One area that really struck me was his discussion of limiting behaviors and beliefs.
Here’s a quote that I found particularly powerful:
“Limiting behaviors originate from limiting beliefs. Our beliefs form the basis of our experiences and how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. When our beliefs are limited, we limit our perception and experience of what is possible. It doesn’t matter if those beliefs are false. As long as we believe them, they will accordingly impact and mold our perception of experience. The more limiting our beliefs, the less powerful we feel.”
Amazing stuff, isn’t it? It’s almost scary how much control our minds have over us, especially when the mind is known for playing tricks.
So, this got me thinking: How many of us are experiencing limits in our lives simply because of our beliefs? How many of us are tied to some preconceived notion that is keeping us from achieving the things we really want and deserve, both personally and professionally?
I’m guessing that most of you reading this have at least one or two limiting beliefs you’re holding on to, whether or not you even realize it. Don’t worry. I’m right there with you. We all have limiting beliefs of some kind. They usually sit just beneath the surface, in our subconscious mind, and have been there for years and years (usually since childhood). Recognizing your limiting beliefs is the first step to overcoming them.
What is a Limiting Belief?
A belief is a conviction or generalization that is accepted as truth without positive proof or knowledge. A limiting belief is one that places artificial boundaries around your personal potential.
A Limiting Belief…
- tricks you into not trying.
- blinds you to the realities of the world.
- stops you from taking risks.
- keeps you where you are.
- obstructs your growth.
- keeps you repeating negative patterns.
- prevents you from taking responsibility for your life.
- prevents you from going after your dreams.
- encourages procrastination.
- gives you an excuse for not doing what you really want to do.
- fills you with doubt and fear.
- prompts you to find “evidence” to support it.
- stops you from imagining the possibilities.
- makes you feel negative and discontent.
- prevents breakthroughs.
Here’s the truth: Beliefs are not facts. But they are just as powerful. Regardless of whether or not they are true, beliefs shape reality.
Common Limiting Beliefs
Listen to yourself. What lies are you telling?
- I don’t have this skill.
- I’m not good at this.
- Others can do it better than me.
- I’m not experienced enough.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I’m not important enough.
- I’m too young.
- I’m too old.
- I don’t have the money.
- I don’t have the time.
- It’s just not in my genes.
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t deserve success.
- I’m lazy.
- Nothing ever works out for me.
- Nobody ever notices the work I do.
- I never get what I want.
- This is just “the way it is.”
- I have no control over this.
- I have nothing to offer.
My Limiting Beliefs
I have several limiting beliefs to work on overcoming but I’ll share two that I can quickly recognize:
I’ve always been the kind of person who catches any bug that goes around. I have poor immunity and I tend to hang on to sickness for a very long time. It’s draining and can be very problematic for obvious reasons. But this has become a limiting belief. Just because I’ve gotten sick a lot in the past doesn’t mean I always will. I can’t use this as an excuse to avoid pushing myself. I can’t use it to hide from the world just because I’m scared of getting sick. I have to do what I can to build my immune system and stay healthy. But if I keep telling myself that I’m a sickly person, I’m always going to feel that way, and ultimately, it’s always going to be true. Instead, I need to remember how strong I am.
The second limiting belief is similar. I’ve always been somewhat accident prone. Several years ago, I had a bad ski accident and broke my leg. After 6 weeks on crutches and arthroscopic knee surgery, I basically gave up on any activity where I could possibly get hurt. I’ve developed the belief that I’m just horribly clumsy and it’s dangerous for me to participate in such activities. This belief has prevented me from doing really fun things—going on trips with friends, having spontaneous adventures, and just living life to the fullest. Instead of believing I’m a danger to myself, I have to start believing that I am capable of taking care of myself. Of course, there’s no need to take silly risks. But I can’t continue viewing every situation as a possible danger to my physical safety. At some point, I have to start believing in myself again.
I actually have one more limiting belief to share and this is one I recently overcame. You see, I never thought I could be a professional writer. Though writing has been my passion since childhood, I never believed that I could earn a living doing it. When I went to college, there was a small part of me that wanted to be an English major, but it just seemed so unrealistic. It was much more practical to get a business degree. It wasn’t until several years after graduation that I started, very tentatively, putting some of my writing out into the world. The Internet made it possible for me to slowly (and anonymously) share my work and get feedback. Soon, I began to realize that the only thing keeping me from writing for a living was my belief that I couldn’t do it. Once I broke that belief and I began really thrusting myself into my writing and getting it out there, everything changed. My blog was discovered by someone at OfficeArrow in March of 2008 and I was given my first ever full-time job as a writer. I felt lucky but also worthy. I believed in myself and my writing, and my reality changed because of it.
So, what beliefs are currently limiting you and how do you plan to shake them?
Photo Credit: Pierangelo Rosati (Flickr)