What’s a Limiting Belief?
Simply put, a limiting belief is a thought (or a collection of thoughts) that you hold to be true that keep you from moving forward towards your goal.
As a coach, one of my main jobs is to be curious and watch for limiting beliefs.
If someone says they want to reach a goal but they keep hitting roadblocks, I would suspect a limiting belief is at play.
Please Forgive This Terrible Writing
For example, if I frequently tell myself “my writing is not good”, I am much less likely to publish articles.
If I’m afraid my “inadequate writing” will make me look bad, then I will make excuses and tell myself I’ll finish the writing later.
Or I might tell myself, “That project wasn’t really worth finishing.” But in truth, those thoughts are just excuses to not expose myself to criticism.
(Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical example! I have struggled with the “my writing is not good enough” limiting belief for many years.)
Action Breaks the Habit
My solution to this challenge has three main parts.
- I try to stay aware that although I have this belief, I don’t have to keep it.
- I take small measurable actions often. For example, I write daily and I set smaller, more attainable goals.
- I remember that small regular actions is what actually leads to attaining big goals.
This entry in The GrowthBase is an example of how I’m doing just that.
The entries are short. They are easy to publish daily. And their small parts add up to a larger whole.
In future entries, I’ll write about how limiting beliefs are related to a concept called “The Resistance”. I would do it now, but I’m not a good enough writer yet.
(Do you see what I did there?)
Take Some Action
- Write down something you want but have struggled with attaining.
- Name some possible beliefs you have around that topic.
- Finish the sentence, “I could do it, if only I ….”
What to Watch Out For
This process can take time. You can expect many setbacks. But thankfully, small actions have small setbacks.
Also, be careful of further self-criticism as you do this. It’s an easy trip to fall into.
Instead, try a gentle approach with younger self’s beliefs. Self compassion can loosen a limiting belief’s grip better than criticism. In the end, you will get better results.
P.S. I’ll write more about limiting beliefs when I cover The Work of Byron Katie and the concept of The Resistance in later GrowthBase entries.
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