The first time I heard the phrase “limiting beliefs,” I was skeptical. The concept that I might have these unconscious beliefs about myself that are somehow preventing me from doing or having the things that I actually want is almost laughable. I want to be successful. I want to be happy. Why on earth would I be stopping myself from getting those things that I want, right? But it turns out the biggest thing keeping me from being successful was *absolutely* myself and my limiting beliefs.
Let’s back it up. What exactly are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are these pesky little thoughts we have about ourselves and our abilities. Similar to having areas of lower self-confidence, a great example of a limiting belief is the phrase, “I’m not good enough.”
Whether we realize it or not, many of us are carrying around different versions of these limiting beliefs. More importantly? They’re making a huge negative impact on our lives. Think about it with me, have you ever thought or felt something like, “I’m not smart enough to do _____,” or maybe “I’m not very interesting or unique.” Maybe it’s “I’m not creative enough,” or “I’m not pretty enough,” or something entirely different. They sit and fester beneath the surface, so — even when we really, really want something — they end up getting in our way. And usually? We don’t even know it’s happening.
Okay, let’s say limiting beliefs are the real deal. How on earth could they be keeping me from success?
I’m not saying it’s impossible to be successful while you have limiting beliefs. It’s *very* possible. But what I am saying is that, often times, these limiting beliefs prevent us from taking the very actions we NEED to be taking to make success possible.
Here’s a great example based on this amazing YouTube video from Erin May Henry:
Imagine you’re a glass, and you’re full of oil (aka, your limiting beliefs.) What happens if you were to pour champagne — representing all of the good and wonderful things you want in life — into that glass?
One, it’s going to taste really freaking gross. Two, you would *never* willingly pour champagne into that glass. Obviously not, that’s ridiculous, right?
That’s because you’re preventing yourself from doing it even without thinking about it.
It’s instinctual. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t want the champagne still. You can still want it. But where will you put it? What do you need to do to get what you want? (Besides drinking out of the bottle, obviously.)
Our limiting beliefs are the same way. We need to identify what’s holding us back and let them go, to clean out the glass full of oil, so we can fill ourselves and our lives with the good shit.
How do you let go of your limiting beliefs?
The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging it. I want you to set aside five or ten minutes and think about any limiting beliefs you might have in your life right now. Sometimes these are connected to any insecurities we might have, to any past trauma, or simply to our upbringings. You might have two or you might have twelve. There is no wrong answer.
I found it incredibly helpful to write all of my limiting beliefs in a journal. They started flowing out of me like poison, one connected to the other, until I realized that I had a lot of negative things that I believed about myself. They were impacting almost *every* single aspect of my life — my career, my writing, my marriage, my friendships — and I needed to acknowledge each and every one of them.
The next step is to let them go. No, it’s not as easy as that. Mine still haunt me from time to time, and I don’t know if that will ever change. (Unfortunately.)
Instead, I want you to transform these limiting beliefs into opportunities for growth, strength, and empowerment. These should become your mantras, and they will help you align with what you truly want in your life. Think about the version of you that has the things you want — a successful career, a happy relationship, a healthy self-image. What does that person believe?
Maybe one of your limiting beliefs is, “I’m not that great of a writer,” but you *really* want to publish a book one day. Instead, write down the phrase, “I’m creative, talented, and I’m excited about the opportunity to improve and grow as a writer.”
By reframing these thoughts, you’re allowing space for yourself as an individual to thrive. Is it going to be an instant change? Maybe not. Are you automatically going to stop having insecurities? Nope.
The goal isn’t to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist.
It’s being gentle with yourself as you push toward what you want. Going back to the example of writing a book, it’s time to change our response to limiting beliefs. Whenever those they start to surface — whenever you realize you’re not moving toward what you want because you’re afraid, self-conscious, or unsure — remind yourself of these phrases and mantras.
Remind yourself that you are good enough. That you’re constantly improving, and that you’re excited about the opportunity to make your dreams a reality. The only way we can achieve success is one step at a time, but first we need to get out of our own way.