For some people, belief and confidence come easily. They seem to have that personality that anything seems possible.
In most areas of my life, I’m one of them. I’ve rarely been handed a challenge and thought to myself “I can’t do this.” Instead, my mind automatically goes to “what do I need to learn to do this?” Maybe it’s because I was taught from a young age that I could do anything.
For my first copywriting job (which I got by breaking past my fear of cold-calling), they wanted me to edit their website. Did I say “um, I have no idea about html”? Nope, I said “Sure!”. Then went to the bookstore and bought 5 books on website building. Devoured them. Practiced at home. Then went and did the job. Not only did I earn money, but I learned skills that have helped my career since then.
But in some areas, that all-encompassing belief is a little lacking. I’m being held back by self-limiting beliefs.
One area in which self-limiting beliefs have affected me is my health- in particular my weight and fitness level. In fact, I’ll be using that example below as we work through on how to overcome self-limiting beliefs.
What are self-limiting beliefs?
Short answer: Self-limiting beliefs are things we believe implicitly that hold us back from achievement.
I’ll go into further examples below as well as some of what fuels them. But if you’re being held back from something, there’s probably a self-limiting belief lurking below the surface.
They can take many forms. And since they’re deeply-held beliefs, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint them. But don’t worry, I have the steps below as well as a free printable worksheet to help you.
Why do we embrace self-limiting beliefs?
- Past experience. This is one of the fundamental things that cause people to cling to self-limiting beliefs. They’ve experienced something that has caused them to embrace a false belief.
- Education or lack of. So many people seem to think that education level involves simply a piece of paper. They don’t credit all the life experience they have. Or the skills they’ve learned on the job. Hence, they adopt a self-limiting belief that because they’re not formally educated in a field, they can’t do it.
- Excuse to keep from leaving our comfort zone. This is a big one. Probably the biggest. By embracing a self-limiting belief, people can stay inert. And staying in the same place is so very comfortable.
- Fear. What might happen if you let go of the self-limiting belief.
Self limiting beliefs examples/ limiting beliefs list
First, this list is far from exhaustive. I’ve just gathered a few of thousands of beliefs that people can embrace.
- I do writing for a living. This is what I’m good at. So, I’m not good at marketing or selling. (Take your particular career and fill in your own blanks).
- I cannot sing/dance/creative talent.
- I ‘m not intelligent. (In other words, we credit ourselves as being one thing or the other, not realizing we can improve on those things).
- The world doesn’t value artists. So I shouldn’t even try to make a living off my art. (Believing as the world believes is often a mistake and can hold us back from achievement)
- I can’t lose weight because my lifestyle works against it. Or I can’t lose weight because I have bad genetics.
- I’m bad at relationships. So I’m doomed to be unhappy and alone forever.
- I’m not good at money. So trying to save/get out of debt is impossible.
- I’m not an organized person. So even trying is pointless.
How to overcome self-limiting beliefs
The good news is that you can overcome these self-limiting beliefs! You’re not doomed to always stay at the same spot in life. But it takes effort. Below, I have the steps. Below that I have an example from my own life.
I have a free printable worksheet below that you can work through. But the steps are fairly universal. But you have to write them down and really think about it. This isn’t a “read and think a little and things will change” task.
- Define what area of life you want to improve. Where are you struggling?
- Write down all the reasons you aren’t succeeding. Use the following formula “I’m not achieving X because of…”. Keep writing down reasons until you have them all out or you start repeating yourself.
- Take those reasons, especially the big ones. Identify WHY you believe this.
- For those reasons, start listing evidence against them.
- Analyze where you could be without that limiting belief. Dream big!
- Turn that self-limiting belief into a freeing belief.
- Make this your new motto. If you start to slip back into the self-limiting belief, break out your piece of paper and re-read your evidence against it. Then repeat your freeing belief motto.
My example has to do with my weight and fitness level. Right now, I’m technically obese. I wince even writing that. (Promise me that you’re not laughing at me).
The three biggest reasons I’m not succeeding & (the evidence I have to support it):
I have bad genetics, almost everyone in my family is overweight. (This is true, even being obese, I’m skinnier than about half of my family.)
I’m too lazy to work out. (This FEELS true. I’ve tried different workouts and I either don’t get started or give up 10 minutes in because I’m so tired).
Something always comes up and I have a reason to overeat. It’s a special night out or Girl Scout cookies just came out or it’s the holidays. (Self-evident…the calendar bears this out).
Now, evidence against these self-limiting beliefs:
There are healthy people in my family.
I can’t actually be too lazy to work out. I used to be in the military. 5 years ago I was in GREAT shape and had no trouble working out. In fact, I was the skinniest I’ve been in my life. I was even thinner than I was in the military.
If something is always coming up, I need to plan in advance. And just because Girl Scout cookies are out doesn’t mean I need to eat an entire box. I can eat two cookies a day and savor them over a week.
Turn that self-limiting belief into a freeing belief. My new freeing belief: “Jennie, you’ve succeeded at almost everything in life you’ve set your mind to. It’s impossible to believe- in fact, you have evidence against it- that you are incapable of losing weight and being healthy.”
Free Printable Self-Limiting Beliefs Worksheet
• Print options: regular paper works.
• The file is in pdf below. Or click on the images. They will open in a new window and you can either print directly or save to computer.
• The default size of these is full-page. However, if you want smaller, simply reduce the print size! If you’re not sure on how much to reduce, check out my post How to Resize Printables to Fit Your Planner.”
Limiting Belief worksheet <<<Click there to download pdf of Self-limiting beliefs worksheet.