Identifying and Replacing Limiting Beliefs
Mentally speaking, we are all basically a walking bunch of stories to which we have agreed. Our minds are filled with and fuelled by a great number of these opinions and ideas about the world. Some of these beliefs are helpful and others are limiting but they are all there to help us feel safe from the universal fear of being judged, criticised or rejected.
As well as the huge variety of stories that we carry, there is a large variability in our level of awareness of these agreements. Some are buried as convictions and are nearly impossible to perceive as a story. They feel like irrefutable facts of the world which can show up as apathy or fear and they tend to attract experiences that reinforce the belief. When our false beliefs and fears inhibit us from showing and sharing our full selves with the world, our lives are impoverished and we need to make a change.
It is very empowering to understand that we have picked up every one of our opinions and beliefs from other people and past experiences. Perhaps the voice of a parent has become internalised or you have agreed with a message from the media about yourself and the world. Whatever the story’s origin, conscious, mindful awareness is the first step in overcoming any limiting belief.
Limiting beliefs are “true” stories that keep us from living more in alignment with our ideal self. These agreements appear to be who we are but, by observing them as stories that we have agreed to, we empower ourselves with the ability to change. What are your stories of yourself and the world? They are large in number and most of them are useful. If you list them as you think of them (perhaps while journaling) you will have taken a massive step towards flourishing.
Once you have your list of stories, see which ones resonate the strongest with you. Which ones are the most limiting in your life? Which ones are stopping you from thriving? Don’t worry if two beliefs contradict each other, that’s totally normal. There are internal conflicts in everyone. Once you have selected a shortlist of agreements to work with, you can begin to change them.
Changing a story will take time and effort. You have been living with this agreement as a fact of life for a long time, so it won’t be reversed overnight. Your brain has been perpetuating this story by only noticing things that support the belief and ignoring or excusing evidence to the contrary. It’s time to take back control and get your beautiful brain to work for you!
There is a two-step process to changing a story which uses affirmation and habit. Choose one of your limiting beliefs and write down an opposing statement. Make it realistic and believable. Say these new affirmations aloud several times a day to overwrite the limiting belief. The important second part to changing a story is a repeatable action, however small, that is in alignment with your new agreement.
Below are some examples of common limiting beliefs and suitable affirmations and habits to replace them.
Belief: I’m lazy or I’m too busy to....
Affirmation: I prioritise time for my passion
Habit: Schedule some daily time to pursue something meaningful to you
Belief: I'm bad at remembering names
Affirmation: I can remember people's names
Habit: prioritise name memorisation. Subtly write it down and use it a lot.
Belief: I shouldn't even try.
Affirmation: I can handle challenges
Habit: Set yourself an achievable daily goal and stick to it
Belief: I'm not very good at...
Affirmation: in improving at...
Habit: Practice something and measure your success by comparing only to your previous ability
Challenging and overcoming your limiting beliefs is difficult but very worthwhile. As you take action in alignment with your new affirmations, this evidence will strengthen your new beliefs.
I’d love to know how you go with identifying and replacing your limiting beliefs.
If you would value support in identifying and challenging your own limiting beliefs, please get in touch and we can work together on your flourishing.
I am a rational, secular, humanist, personal developer. I am a semi-spiritual, men’s work advocating, feminist, musical, meditative man. I am a work in progress. I tenaciously strive towards my authentic, ideal self, seeing it as a compass point rather than a destination. I compassionately accept the perpetual gap between my actual and ideal self as I appreciate how far I have already travelled. I take opportunities, appreciate my virtues and own my flaws and shadows. I am committed to a deep sense of purpose to create a world of safety by helping people improve their relationships with themselves and others