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.


What you chose to focus on becomes your reality

Jen 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.

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.

Look at each limiting belief and identify what you are gaining from believing these ‘truths’. 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.

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 believing it is WHO WE ARE instead of believing that WE ARE WHAT WE FOCUS ON and then changing our focus.

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? Try to identify the actual facts vs the stories you are telling yourself. Stories are just thoughts and thoughts are not facts. Thoughts and feelings are completely optional and separate from the facts.

A fact is: I weigh 150lbs. A story or thought is: I should weigh less, I weigh too much.

Those limiting beliefs about yourself are all just thoughts, and you can change your thoughts! If you can identify the facts (I am single) vs. the thoughts about yourself (No one wants to date me) you can then do the work of changing the thoughts.



Rewrite your story

Finally, work on creating some ‘goal thoughts’ to work on. These are the thoughts you will be aiming to have eventually, but go easy on yourself! This takes time! Brainstorm some positive, abundant thoughts you would like to have instead of the limiting beliefs you identified.

For example the thought ‘I can’t do anything right’ could be changed to ‘I always do my best’ or the thought ‘I am too hard on myself’ could be changed to ‘I love and appreciate myself’ or ‘I have my own back’.

Don’t panic if the goal thoughts were too much! Now is the time to create some thoughts that are neutral but believable for you to practice before shifting to an abundant goal thought.

For example the thought ‘I always do my best’ could be changed simply to ‘I am trying’

The thought ‘I love and appreciate myself’ could be changed to ‘sometimes I love myself’ or ‘sometimes I appreciate myself’ or ‘sometimes I have my own back’.

Practice the neutral thoughts. Anytime your brain goes to a limiting belief just replace it with a neutral thought. Once that becomes a habit, and you truly believe the neutral thoughts then it is time to start practicing the goal thoughts. Don’t start right way with the goal thoughts because you will have a hard time believing such a different thought. Just take it one thought at a time!

This takes time! You have spent a lifetime thinking some of these limiting beliefs! It will take time to change them. Be patient and kind with yourself. You are amazing for identifying your limiting beliefs and starting the work to change them! This takes Gusts and time! I believe in you!

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.

And if you are serious about achieving your goals and changing your beliefs you are going to need some accountability help! And guess what?

I help Gutsy women just like you achieve their goals with confidence and ease in as little as 3 months!

So why not hop on a call with me and figure out once and for all what is causing you to fall short on your goals and what to do about it?



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Amanda Richey