There’s a saying: Your biggest hurdle isn’t your opponent, it’s yourself. Even if you’re not aware of it. Here’s the good news: once you can get over yourself, you can get anywhere!
Many of us have these barriers that prevent us from being the best we can be. They’re what experts call “limiting beliefs” and they’re often subconscious. For most, they were formed through childhood and early home life, largely before the age of 7. They’re so deeply ingrained that you don’t question them – it’s just how it is for you. The problem with these limiting beliefs is that they affect the way we react to things and they impact the way we make decisions. It’s like they skew the data we use when making a decision we’re not making a decision on facts but a warped idea of facts. They’re like stealth self-sabotage.
Here’s some examples:
“I can’t ever keep to a diet – I have absolutely no willpower” – even though you quit smoking which quite clearly shows strong powers of restraint
“I’m terrible at public speaking” – are you, or do you just think you are so you’ve shied away from it instead of practising speeches and trying to improve?
“There’s no point in showing me a balance sheet – I’m so bad at maths” – or is this just an immediate reaction given it was a harder subject for you at school but actually you’re quite capable of figuring numbers out if they have some relevance for you in a practical sense?
“I need to work 6 days a week otherwise people will think I’m lazy” – will they, really? Or is that something you’ve heard as a kid and now firmly believe it?
Scarily, your subconscious mind accounts for 95% of all your thinking. Ninety-five percent! Your subconscious is what drives your self-limiting beliefs giving you those immediate negative reactions you have to certain situations. Your subconscious might be holding you back.
And it’s understandable: comfort zones are really, well, comfortable places to live in! No risk of failure, you know what you’re doing, you’re happy you can achieve what you set out to do because you’ve done it before time and time again… You sleep well when you’re living in your comfort zone, right?
The problem is, to really reach your potential as a human and business owner, you need to be constantly improving. You need to be better at honing skills, learning new skills, trying different things, being confident enough to try new things that have a little risk. You need to feel the fear and do it anyway! You need to believe in yourself…
If you have self-limiting beliefs, you are holding yourself back. You’ll never be all that you can be if you continue to be guided by these beliefs. So how can you identify what yours might be? Developgoodhabits.com has some really good insights around this topic:
“What are some areas of your life that you find to be stressful, but you’re not actively trying to fix? Think: relationships with others, your career being all it should be, being fit and in good health, having a thriving social life, having the right work/life balance…
If there’s an area of your life you’re dissatisfied with, it may be because of a limiting belief, so you’ll want to explore that more. Here’s an example of how limiting beliefs surrounding leisure time might impact how you feel about it:
- I don’t have time to have fun
- Work is more important than play
- If I enjoy time to myself, people will think I’m lazy
- I don’t deserve to do the things I enjoy because I have a child
With these beliefs, you can see why it would be difficult to actively pursue a change in this area.”
Here are some specific things you can look for to uncover clues to help you identify your limiting beliefs:
- When do you make up excuses?
- Is there any part of your life in which you tend to procrastinate?- Is there an instance in which you usually make assumptions?
- What do you complain about?
- What spurs your negative thinking patterns?
- Where is my comfort zone with money, in my relationships, and with myself? (Think about the things you know you should do, but don’t).
- What beliefs about myself keep me “safe”?- What was I told I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do as a kid?
- What am I subconsciously committed to being right about?- What beliefs do I share with the majority of my family and friends?- In what ways are my beliefs different than those of my family and friends?
- In what areas of life am I afraid to be wrong?
- What are some things about myself I’ve always thought to be true?
- In what ways can I detect outside ideas influencing my daily decisions?
- What would I do if I knew I absolutely could not fail?
Once you’ve identified what these old, unhelpful thought patterns are, try to unpick where they came from and look objectively at whether they are in fact true or false.
Now the hard work begins: you need to retrain your mind, to let yourself know that those limiting beliefs are NOT the case for you, that you can do hard things and you can improve and grow as a person. Good luck!