If you read my last post about understanding your personality traits, you will recall that I mentioned that your unique personality traits may be one of the ways you are holding yourself back without even being aware. The other one is your limiting beliefs.
Free Limiting-Beliefs Journaling Prompts Worksheet
What you chose to focus on becomes your realityJen Sincero
What are limiting beliefs?
Have you ever found yourself doing the same things over and over again making the same mistakes, dating the same types of people, not making the kind of money you want, always stopping before it gets tough, always finding yourself in the same stuck place in your life and you ask yourself “what is my problem?”.
Or what about that little voice inside your head that is full of negative self-talk, doubt, and judgment.
Or maybe it’s that you are always in a negative space, thinking of yourself and your circumstances as beyond your control.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If any of these sound familiar to you, chances are there are some limiting beliefs at work that are holding you back from being and having the life you want.
Limiting beliefs (also called self-limiting beliefs) are deeply held ‘truths’ you tell yourself about who you are and what you are capable of. These ‘truths’ are often not founded on reality but come from information you gathered from outside sources when you were young and were buried in your subconscious and keep rearing their ugly heads to hold you back and keep you in the same low-vibe, ho-hum, less than amazing loops instead of living the life you are meant to be living.
Here’s how it works
We have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. Our conscious mind is controlled by the prefrontal cortex, a section of your brain located right behind your forehead. This region is responsible for decision making, self-control, willpower, and regulating behavior and does not fully develop until after puberty. Our subconscious mind however, is fully developed at birth, and is controlled by the basal ganglia which is responsible for emotions, habits, behavior, basic instincts etc. The subconscious mind is in charge, even when we think our conscious mind is running things.
For more on how these two parts of the brain interact to affect willpower and goal setting check this post out
This is a problem because our subconscious mind believes everything it takes in because it has no analytical filter. When we are young this part of our brain is fully in charge (because the analytical part has not kicked in yet). As a result, our subconscious mind takes in most of its information when we are children and don’t know any better. As children we take in all of the comments, facial cues, social norms of the people around us and internalize them as ‘truths’ or ‘beliefs’ even if they are not based on actual truth.
Why this matters
The subconscious or habitual responses to the world around us are based on ‘truths’ we internalized as children. Even if we know better now and can use our prefrontal cortex to analyze and rationalize these beliefs, our subconscious mind is still controlling and running the show determining how and what we feel and believe about ourselves and the world around us. This is hugely important because, while you may have some awesome subconscious beliefs, chances are you have quite a few ‘beliefs’ that are not based in reality and are thus limiting yourself and your potential.
How to overcome limiting beliefs
First you must identify your limiting beliefs. If you are anything like me, this will be a struggle. I know that there are areas in my life that I hold myself back, ‘truths’ I tell myself that are not based in fact and that do not serve me and the person I know I can be, yet I struggle to actually identify them. It is as if my subconscious is so in control that I can’t even feel it driving me, let alone name it. Not everyone struggles with this, I know. Some people have a personal companion who spouts negative self-commentary 24-7. Regardless of whether you fall into the first or the second category spending some time thinking about and writing about your beliefs and your thoughts can lead to some clarity and an ability to take back control.
Click here for a guided worksheet I created for myself to identify my limiting beliefs
First listen for those thoughts and stories that you always tell yourself. Thoughts or comments that sound like:
Then try looking at an area of your life where you feel you are coming up short or have plateaued. An area where no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get ahead, get out, move on. Try writing down the first five thoughts that come to your mind about that area of your life. What comes up? Fear? Happiness? Your parents?
Once you have identified areas in your life that may contain limiting beliefs look at your fears around those areas. What are the fears keeping you from? Try to pinpoint which fears have held you back from making positive changes in those areas.
How to change your limiting beliefs
Now that you have come up with some limiting beliefs make a list. What stories do you tell yourself about these subconscious beliefs? We don’t do anything unless we get something for it and chances are, even if it is negative you are probably making the reward more important than actually changing the thought.
Look at each limiting belief and identify what you are gaining from believing these ‘truths’.
For example: I am depressed, but I get to stay home in my pajamas all day and everyone asks me how I am feeling.
We make the benefits from believing our ‘truths’ more important than actually changing our lives because it is familiar, and habitual, and we are scared to let it go. We gave tricked ourselves into believe it is WHO WE ARE instead of believing that WE ARE WHAT WE FOCUS ON and then changing our focus.
Rewrite your story
The final step to letting go of the limiting beliefs is to rewrite those limiting beliefs into a new truth that you can repeat to yourself anytime you feel your subconscious trying to take over.
Change each limiting belief into a new truth, then, focus on those truths. Use them as your affirmations. Breath into them. Speak or think them each time you feel your subconscious trying to take over and slip you back into old habits and ways of thinking.
Remember what you chose to focus on becomes your reality so focus on your TRUTH and rewrite your story. Take back control from your subconscious.
If this is a struggle for you I have created a worksheet with 8 writing prompts to help you identify and then change your limiting beliefs. I made this for me because I struggled to identify mine and I can’t be the only one right? It is completely free!
Click here and start the growth process!