Do you ever feel stuck in a rut? That, no matter how inspired you are, you can’t take action? Or perhaps you find yourself chronically procrastinating instead of getting the job done? Sounds like you are dealing with limiting beliefs. And you aren’t alone.
What Are Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are a set of restricting rules that govern our behavior. Living in our subconscious minds, they are self-sabotaging thoughts that determine our actions and life-choices. They are unconscious roadblocks that stop us from achieving our potential.
Where Are They From?
Developed in childhood, we soak up information shown to us by our caregivers and form a set of core values. These values are based on what we learn to be right and wrong, and how we should and shouldn’t behave. For example, if we learn that coming last in a school race is a failure, we see failure as negative – and it should be avoided.
These beliefs become the blueprint for who we think we are, how we present ourselves to others, and how we see the world.
As adults, we now have access to far more information, which allows us to make more informed decisions. Too bad for us, though, our deeply ingrained beliefs rear their heads long into adult life, where they no longer serve us.
Despite their bad press, it’s important to remember our limiting beliefs’ intentions are to protect us from feelings we’ve learned to avoid, such as vulnerability, rejection, shame, and failure.
But, of course, shielding us from these emotions only keeps us in our comfort zone, far from progress and with a lid firmly on achieving our goals.
Introducing Confirmation Bias
To deal with the wealth of information we’re exposed to each day, our minds favor narratives that slot perfectly in with our existing beliefs, filtering and twisting the data to make it fit. This subconscious behavior is known as confirmation bias. Simply put, when out in the wild, we seek evidence that confirms what we already believe to be true.
A real-world example would be harboring the belief: “I’m not good enough.”
You apply for a job, go through a lengthy interview process, and in the end, the company offers it to someone else.
See? This is solid proof that you are, in fact, not good enough, right? Wrong. The reality may be that the CEO offered his daughter the role, and you never stood a chance. It has nothing to do with your competence or worth.
The problem with limiting beliefs is, by dictating how we perceive ourselves, they control our results. If we hold on tight to the belief ‘we aren’t good enough’ (or insert similar negative perception here) we’ll take action aligned with it, which is more than likely no action at all.
If you’re over self-sabotaging and want to break free from what’s holding you back, take a look at the 6 steps below to rein in your restrictive beliefs and keep them in check.
1. Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
To take control of your limiting beliefs, you need to be aware of what you’re up against.
Ask yourself if there are any areas of your life you aren’t satisfied with. Do you have a burning desire to make a life-change, but are always met with internal conflict, or the recurring thought that it’s just not possible for you? These thoughts are your limiting beliefs in full swing.
By acknowledging they exist (and are not your truth) you’ve completed step one.
2. Commit to Making Change
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.”
Once you’ve identified your restricting beliefs, you must commit to changing your behavior (no matter how uncomfortable you feel at first). Understanding that your progress is directly linked to your commitment will stop you from using external reasons as an excuse. Stay focused by holding yourself accountable.
3. Start Again with New Beliefs
By swapping out old beliefs for positive new ones, you’ll instantly pave the way for different actions and, subsequently, different results. (And you can put your old beliefs in the bin).
Instead of thinking: “I’m not good enough” try: “I have the skills to take on this role and will do my best to achieve my potential.”
Remember, these thoughts must be believable to your subconscious and in alignment with what you wish to achieve.
And once you’ve decided on a new belief, you can reinforce it with affirmations. You can do this by writing it down or saying it aloud repeatedly. This will help make it stick as our brains are hard-wired to trust repetition.
ALSO READ: Top 7 Best Self-Help Books for Millennials
4. Act ‘As if’
Step into the shoes of future you: the you who has achieved their dreams. Behave exactly how you would if nothing was holding you back. See how it feels to try this mindset on for size. Feels good, hey?
Acting ‘As if’ will provide your mind with a dress rehearsal for the new behavior. This is a subtle way to introduce change, without making any huge commitment. Call it your practice run.
5. Evidence of Your New Beliefs
The next step is to build a bank of evidence that supports your new belief. Jot down situations as they arise that support your new way of thinking.
The more proof you collect, the more you’ll convince your mind who’s boss. And be sure to keep your notes in hand for whenever your doubt starts to creep back in.
6. Show Self-Compassion
Above all, give yourself credit. The fact you’ve shown up and are reading this post confirms your desire for change. And that alone deserves a massive high-five.
You’ve Got The Power
Of course, no one said personal development was a smooth ride. But nothing worth having ever came easy, right? Your journey might seem difficult at times, but don’t give up. By changing your thoughts and choosing new behaviors, you’ll have access to great rewards.
There’s only one thing worse than limiting beliefs, and that’s kicking back and allowing them to exist. By putting these steps into practice, you’ll learn to stop self-sabotaging and hop-skip down the once impassable path to achieving your dreams.
READ NEXT: 5 Ways to Build Self-Confidence
Lizzie Bowden is a life coach in training and the founder of Laughter and Lemons. Her passion is to create a community for women who are ready to realize their potential, quit self-sabotaging and live without restrictions.