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Ways to Overcome Self-Limiting Beliefs

Written By Soujanya Tiruvengala

Ways to Overcome Self-Limiting Beliefs

Why do we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel inferior to others? The answer has something to do with our self-limiting belief. Self-limiting belief is something which restricts our capabilities and shows us an inferior image of our self which we are sometimes conscious of and sometimes not. These false beliefs become barriers in our progress and development. In reality, we can actually do a lot of things through sheer determination and strong will power. However, these limiting thoughts in our mind affect our perception of the world outside.

Let’s look at a few ways to overcome these self-limiting beliefs:

  • Plant seeds of positive thinking in your minds and heart.
  • Interpret your emotions correctly.
  • Believe that you can do it better than anyone.
  • Cultivate the habit of pepping up yourself.
  • Cleanse your mind daily by meditating.
  • Make connections with positive people to keep your thoughts healthy.
  • Make an attempt to do things that were never attempted.
  • Try to use the potential within you.
  • Have belief in your abilities and believe in your self-worth.
  • Change your negative outlook.

It is best to eliminate and filter out thoughts that hold one back and become the reason for failure. Pay attention to the patterns of your thoughts so that you can know how to alter them. Seek the help of your family and friends to become aware of negative and self-defeating habits that you may have.

Give enough space to yourself to differentiate between positive and negative things. Sometimes, our actions are neither positive nor negative and we may be in two minds about whether to change them or not. Similarly, some habits are conscious and some are not. One needs some degree of self-awareness to know what to change and what to retain.

Take steps proactively, whether it is at the workplace or in your personal life. Don’t give in to failure or fear of failure. Try to avoid falling back into self-limiting habits after bringing about positive change in life. As human beings we have a choice to choose what we want to see and do and the power to control our minds to some extent. If this power is exercised in a useful manner, one can overcome self-limiting beliefs in time.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    There are two driving forces that create for me self-limiting beliefs. One is a fear of failure. When you grow up, as I have, in an environment of approval equaling love, then any failure translates into a loss of approval and hence, into a loss of love. This makes the very idea of transcending my comfort zone terrifying. I have learned to overcome this to a degree, but the fear is still there, only not quite as paralyzing.

    The other fear is the flip side of the first. It is the fear of success. This fear grows out of the first. As long as I do not succeed, then the level of expectation that I have to meet is kept low. This makes approval easier to get, and hence increses the chances of being loved. It also limits the level of responsibility that I will have to shoulder.

  • When ever anyone decides to do something the return on investment should be very clear to all of us. If it’s not as clear, it presents a risky outcome and it may not be worth the time. For instance, making a sandwich has low risk that you will not be satisfied. Going to college and earning a degree, there’s a payoff there. Taking on new a task that seems fair enough to accomplish but the risk factor is unknown is less likely to be carried out

  • Deb Smith

    Michael says it well – fear of failure and fear of success are very much intertwined, and they’re SO insidious!

    For me, continuous awareness (or awakeness, as I call it) is the key to battling my limiting beliefs. Knowing what my typical trouble spots are and disciplining myself to drown them out with positive affirmations helps greatly. I also find it helpful to have people around who will let me know when I’m acting from my limitations or letting them color my perceptions. Finally, I frequently post little notes with short key messages in places where I’ll see them throughout the day. A couple of my favorites are “Keep planting, Johnny Appleseed! (from my husband)” and “Remember that your value is 100% at all times, no matter who else is around. (David Peck)”

  • Sumit Narang

    we limit our abilities because of -First,inspite of our mind controlling our body, our body controls our mind – and we dont feel capable enough for certain things in life. Second is OUR EGO. All human beings have different level of EGOS and out of this we stop listening to our Heart.
    Listen to heart and belief in yourself -Treat every coming day in your life as Last day you are on Earth and live it to the Fullest

  • How strongly this resonates!! Fortunately I have an even stronger faith in a Power greater than myself – that Power guides my decisions as well as my footsteps; helps me erase old ego tapes that want to keep me unproductive (or worse, destructive); and helps keep me “right-sized”: not less-than others, nor “too big for my britches!” I also genuinely appreciate those around me and their gifts and talents; I keep good energy flowing by acknowledging that part of all of us that wants to succeed, be proud of ourselves and positively impact our little piece of the Universe; and when the Universe gives me something, I say thank you and give something back.

  • No matter how confident or ambitious a person is we all suffer from self limiting beliefs, because we’re continually evolving and the funny thing is as you grow and expand you can never go back to your old way of thinking but you still need to push past beliefs at a more elevated level and so the process goes on.
    I agree with Sumit that if we can tap into our own intuitive wisdom of the heart as well as the head stuff we stand a far better chance of success, at least authentic success!

  • Jan Watrous-McCabe

    Great observations. One other thing I would offer is that if you are self-limiting, ask one basic question…what is the worst possible thing that can happen if I do this? In most cases the worst possible outcome isn’t that bad! he potential positive outcomes will almost always outweigh the negatives.

  • I agree with all the above comments that fear of failure however irrational will nearly always hold people back. But when did we learn this behaviour? because as small children we didn’t care, we just got and did, until an adult told us that’s not the way to behave. I think a lot of our adult behaviour has been conditioned into us at an ealry age through conforming to society. Phrases such as ‘Its about taking part and not winning’ why inclusive do not encourage you to reach for the stars.

  • Natalia Marcilese

    Of course we all feel at some point that we are not good enough, that there’s always someone who can do it better than us…this is natural…but the very important thing is to understand this natural behaviour and be able to do something about it.
    The human being is an amazing creature, with unlimited abilities, with an incredible intelligence, with the power to change it’s behaviour by the self-understanding and will power.

    We will make mistakes, this is life…but the interesting thing is to learn from our mistakes. this way we will enjoy the amazing gift of life, fully, intensely, we will be able to taste it at every step.
    if we never dare to do anything, well…i’m afraid life will pass by in front of our eyes…we will watch it from our chair (an uncomfortable one)

    “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you are not!”

    so I say….JUMP!
    I promise you there’s always a net underneath. and you’ll be able to jump again! ;)))
    going beyond your own expectations is the best feeling ever! it will reward you with extra strength, extra self-confidence and a whole bunch of new abilities!!! ;)))

  • I would say one tip would be to surround yourself with people who are positive. These are the people who see more of what will “go right” than what will “go wrong”. A second tip would be to find outlets for stress – the negative energy. Some choose exercise (which leads to the chemical release of endorphins, “happy drugs”). Others choose writing in a journal to release their inner thoughts and “get them off their chest”. It’s a personal choice as to the outlet and there are a variety.

    With that said, the fundamental question for me is can you change the underlying, and more hard wired, perspective that lies within us all. As humans we are dynamic. We have social behaviors that we present to each other that are based much around what we’ve learned is “the right way to behave”. They are not really who we are. Rather, who we really are lies beneath in the form of an internal perspective on how we think of ourselves relative to others, what we personally need and expect from others and the environment around us to circumvent becoming frustrated and stressed out. This underlying perspective involves being hard wired as more of an optimist or pessimist. So, a question here would be can a person who thinks less of themselves versus others change that belief through positive self-talk or practicing positive behaviors? I’m not completely sure.

  • pearl

    I think in 20th century or before, with technology limitation or culture barrier (negative one, not so much logic), the people are just stick to their own domains; Now actually internet really make the world flat, each one of us could become the leader at some point, and expanding into the new arena, gaining the new knowledge are much more easier than before, and the most importantly, instilling the new mindset, those are the key factors to break the limit, thanks.

  • Michel S

    To overcome such beliefs one should focus on their own major accomplishments and attempt to surpass those. By valuing self worthiness based on positive things that one can potentially bring to this world, can also be inspiring.If self confidence is absent or weak then self limiting beliefs will most likely be dominant.

  • An attitude is nothing more than a habit of thought. You cannot break a habit…you can only replace it with a different one. If you want to change self-limiting beliefs, you have to replace the thoughts getting you stuck with different thoughts. Most people try to go from a negative to a positive. Example: “My life sucks” to “I have the best life ever”. It’s too far of a jump and not realistic to believe right away. Instead, go from a negative thought to a realistic thought. From “my life sucks” to “I face challenges like everyone else.” Dr. David Burns, in his book Feeling Good, teaches you how to do this. It is the most widely recognized book in the world for cognitive restructuring and is used for patients who suffer from depression.

  • Paul

    If all of the other approaches do not shake up your approach – consider seeking the help of a Coach to deal with the negative psychology around your performance.

    Key to success is being able to establish realistic goals and to identify when you are on the right path to achieving those. If they end up being too vague then break them up into smaller more achievable goals that lead in the same direction to the overall goal.

    It sound cliche – but if what you are doing does not work for you then do something (anything) differently to identify the difference that makes the difference. Making change is about taking responsibility and taking action.

  • Nancy Ann Smith

    I agree that there are many valuable books that help build our positive thinking. If we keep feeding our brain with thoughts that are rich in healthy stories and strategies, we will naturally have less of those negative messages. But, a self-limiting image will occasionally break through. It can be counter-balanced with an immediate and deliberate review of one positive achievement. Keep a little list of three varied achievements handy, so you can easily access a reminder whenever necessary.

  • We all have self-limiting beliefs to varying degrees. This is one of the most significant challenges we face in life. Self-limiting beliefs exist because we’re not as “in balance” as we need to be. We’re not in balance for a variety of reasons. The food we eat, the thoughts we think, the environment we live in, lack of exercise, sometimes the upbringing we’ve had, etc.

    All of the advice on the posting authors bullet list above is excellent however without one noteworthy thing in particular also on that list; you’ll unfortunately experience much less success in reducing those self-limiting beliefs. What is that one thing in particular? It’s meditation. 1-2 daily meditations will increase your balance while simultaneously weakening self-limiting beliefs. I try to meditate near the time of the sunrise and again at sunset. If you have schedule challenges with these times, close is good enough or something is better than nothing.

    As you continue your daily meditation, you’ll notice almost immediately that you’re transitioning toward what some call the field of all possibilities or the field of pure potentiality. Get ready, the light in your life is about to get brighter and brighter. Excited?

    I’ll end this posting with a quote we should all keep in our hearts and minds everyday of our lives.

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi

    Namaste…

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