What Are Limiting Beliefs?

JT - If you accept a limiting belief, it will become a truth for you

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

When we start to become more honest with ourselves, we start to realise there are a number of things we believe that are actually not true and beliefs are not facts.

In this post, I am going to share –

  • What Are Beliefs?
  • What Are Limiting Beliefs?
  • Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?
  • What Are Some Examples Of Limiting Beliefs?
  • Why Is It Easier To Believe Limiting Beliefs?
  • Transforming Limiting Beliefs

Let’s get started…

What Are Beliefs?

Let’s start with having a look at some definitions on beliefs. Beliefs are –

  • “an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.” ~ Google
  • Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty.” ~ Wikipedia
  • “Assumptions and convictions that are held to be true, by an individual or a group, regarding concepts, events, people, and things.” ~ Business Dictionary

Now let’s have a look at limiting beliefs.

“If what you believe is actually true, you don’t need to believe it.” 

~ Ron Smothermon

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

A limiting belief is something you believe to be true that limits you in some way. The limiting belief could be about you, other people or the world. These beliefs may –

  • hold you back from making different choices in your life,
  • keep you from seeing the different opportunities presented to you each day,
  • prevent you from seeing you own gifts or accepting the gifts offered to you, or
  • keep you stuck focusing on the negative aspect of your circumstances.

One of the challenges with limiting beliefs is most of us don’t think we have them and they can be hard to spot.


Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?

Limiting beliefs can come from many places, including – family members, teachers, coaches, media, society and culture. They are formed by repeated thoughts and are mostly created in childhood from interactions with the people around us (N.B. this is not about blaming anyone, particularly our parents).

As children’s brains are not fully developed, they can take on many limiting beliefs from their immediate environment as they do not know the difference between what is real and what is not. For example – a situation occurred in childhood, interpretation about the situation was made, which led to making meaning, that lead to a thought. That person then believed that thought (whether it was true or not), kept thinking it as other similar situations occurred over time, Subsequently, it became a belief.

“Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs.” 

~ Marianne Williamson

What Are Some Examples of Limiting Beliefs?

There are many examples of limiting beliefs. They can be general or specific. Specific limiting beliefs relate to specific areas of life – including money, family, friends, work, health and fitness and general beliefs are more global and can relate to many different areas.

Some example of limiting beliefs that we can take on during life include –

  • “I am not worthy” or “I am not a worthwhile person”,
  • “I am not ________ enough” (insert pretty, smart, fit, rich, tall – basically anything!),
  • “I don’t deserve it” or “I deserve that to happen to me as I am not a nice person”,
  • “I don’t have enough ________” (insert time, support, experience, money, brains – again nearly anything here!),
  • “There is not enough for everyone, so I will do the right thing and miss out” (going from lack instead of abundance) – I have definitely been guilty of this one!,
  • “It’s not spiritual to have a lot of money”,
  • “I don’t want people to think I am ________” (insert your own word here),
  • “I don’t trust myself”,
  • “I can’t handle it”, and
  • “I am going to fail, so why bother trying?”

Maybe you can relate to some of these?

What Are Your Biggest Limiting Beliefs?

As identified above, there are many limiting beliefs. However, in her famous book, Feel the Fear.., and Do It Anyway, Dr Susan Jeffers shares that the biggest fear (which is also a limiting belief) that people are afraid of is “I Can’t Handle It”.

Do you agree with her? If not, what is your biggest limiting belief?

Why Is It Easier To Believe Limiting Beliefs?

You may have realised over your life, it is easier to believe negative or limiting beliefs. In the Buddha’s Brain, Dr Rick Hanson says –

“Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones, even though most of your experiences are probably neutral or positive.” 

~ Rick Hanson

Transforming Limiting Beliefs..

How do you transform limiting beliefs? Firstly with awareness. Remember that beliefs are not facts! Yes really! For example – some of the beliefs I used to believe included –

  • Happiness comes from the outside (i.e. achieving lots, what I do etc.),
  • I have to earn the right to be worthy of love, connection or belonging,
  • Other people’s opinion of me is more important than my own opinion of myself,
  • I will get hurt if I share my true self, and
  • There is something wrong with me and I need to be fixed.

Fortunately after many years of inquiry, mindfulness and self-compassion practice, I can now see many of these beliefs are not true. However, this did not happen overnight and I am still finding limiting beliefs within myself as I did deeper and see patterns in my own behaviour. Which brings me to my second point – you need to practice!

You need to continue practice and untangle the beliefs by remaining present with them. Two ways to stay present are mindfulness and self-compassion. Remember –

“That which transforms your life is what you practice. And what you practice constitutes your personal laws of life – not what you merely believe in, but what you practice. It’s all well and good to read books, and to attend seminars, lectures and workshops, and to say ‘Oh that really resonates with me! It’s now part of my life’s philosophy.’ Your philosophy may give you a temporary state of euphoria, but if you want to be anchored in Reality, it takes practice, practice, practice. We are not here to be euphoric, but to get free. Rudimentary spirituality is theory; advanced spirituality is practice.” 

~ Michael Beckwith (Spiritual Liberation).

Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to limiting beliefs. Feel free to share below what are your biggest limiting beliefs!

If you are ready to take yourself on the adventure of getting to know yourself (your true self), why not join the Toolkit? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.

References –

Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence.  California, USA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Jeffers, S. (2006). Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway. London, United Kingdom: Vermilion.

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