What are they?
Self-limiting beliefs are those things you believe about yourself that place limitations on your abilities. They may be conscious or unconscious. They may be founded or unfounded eg:
I am fat so no one will marry me, or
I am not lucky; I won’t get the job.
That you are fat may well be true. That no one will marry you as a result definitely isn’t. Some people prefer fat partners, and it’s the person inside that really matters. And luck isn’t the criterion for getting a job. You get jobs based on merit.
Limitations are actually a thing of the mind. In reality we have none. You can do anything if you make up your mind to do it. Determination always finds a way around obstacles. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can…. or if you think you can’t…you’re right!” It all depends on what you believe about yourself.
How do they work?
Our thoughts and beliefs colour our vision and perception of the world. They determine our actions or inactions. Thoughts affect feelings. Feelings affect behaviour. Behaviour produces results (or the lack of them). It all begins with our thoughts, since we have to accept a thought for it to become a belief.
It’s been said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. You do not believe what you see; rather you see what you already believe. For this reason, two people facing the same situation may interpret it differently, act according to their different beliefs and experience different outcomes.
Self-limiting beliefs act like brakes on our progress. They leave us acting forward, but believing backward. They have been described as a malicious thermostat; you can take all the action you want, and in the right direction too. But anytime you make progress, the thermostat pulls you back to conform to your inner negative programming.
Attempting to move forward when you have backward programming is like expecting a photocopy to be different from the original. You’ve got to work on the original copy first, change the blue print, modify the DNA.
Your thoughts and beliefs are your programming. You cannot move beyond them. To get out of the vicious cycle of acting forward but believing backward you’ve got to identify these malicious thermostats, and eliminate them, consciously and continuously. Sometimes it’s a lifelong battle, but one that you can win each time.
What can I do about them?
Fortunately, you can get rid of self-limiting beliefs. But first you have to identify them. They could be lurking in the recesses of our minds without our awareness. Talking with a friend or consulting with a coach could give you more objective feedback as to their existence.
Once you have identified them, these limiting beliefs must be challenged every time they rear their heads. You must consciously reject any thought or suggestion that you are limited in any way. There is nothing you cannot do. You simply need to find the way and follow it to conclusion.
When self-limiting thoughts are starved of attention, they wither and die. Whatever you give attention to magnifies: whatever you do not attend to shrivels up and dies. Jim Rohn says it aptly: “You cannot take the mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you devastate.”
No one is better than you are. If others do better, it is simply because they have had more practise, more experience, and/or they know something that you don’t. And all this can be remedied. God made us equal. It’s what we build upon His initial investment that makes the difference.
Read what the experts have said about our beliefs:
• Belief always precedes action. -James Allen
(We won’t even attempt something unless we first believe we can accomplish it. No belief, no action, i.e. procrastination.)
• Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs. -Maxwell Maltz
• Once your thoughts reflect what you genuinely want to be, the appropriate emotions and the consequent behaviour will flow automatically. Believe it and you will see it. -Wayne Dyer
In a nut shell, you must control the thoughts that play around in your mind. Admit and nurture only those that enhance your positive programming and move you to your goals.
Limiting beliefs could come from the things people said to us and about us while we grew up. Now is the time to devastate these weeds. They could also come from listening to negative people, watching/listening to negative TV and radio programs, reading negative books and magazines, and repeatedly hearing negative song lyrics. Always be on the look-out for possible sources, not fearfully, but with the view to detect and devastate them.
A proactive approach
A better way to deal with self-limiting thoughts is to prevent them in the first place. Examining the list of sources above will give you an idea of where their opposites (self-empowering beliefs) can be found – in the opposite directions! If you spend time with wholesome people and material, this will build healthy, wholesome thought patterns. A mind that is girded with strong, empowering thoughts is in fit enough condition to resist invasion by these malicious, illegal aliens.
Invest in inspirational books, seminars, CDs etc. Engage in positive self-talk or affirmations. And just in case self-limiting thoughts slip through unnoticed, perform periodic “mind-sanitation exercises” where you do some self-evaluation. Sometimes a seminar attendance or listening to an audio program is what will alert you of this incursion.
I wish you all the best as you build a strong and healthy mind. Go forward and do all the things you thought you could not do, because now you know that you can. Can I hear an “Amen” somebody?!
Oma Edoja is a published writer, motivational speaker and infopreneur. She speaks to, and works with people wanting to move to the next level. Is progress for you slow? Are results undesirable? Do you have self-limiting beliefs? Contact Oma via her blog, for a free assessment. Blog: http://omaslounge.blogspot.com (contact info available here).