Our thoughts can have a big impact on our life, and limiting beliefs may hold us back.
Consider this: maybe you don’t feel comfortable performing at your local karaoke bar – even though you love singing. Instead, you might worry that people will laugh at you, and you tell yourself you’ll never be a good singer.
But what would happen if you had the confidence to go on stage? If you thought of performing in front of others not as a chance to fail – but an opportunity to grow?
With this new mindset, you might decide to sing a new song at the karaoke bar each week. Sometimes, you would only hit half the notes – and other times people would walk up to you to praise you.
As the weeks go on, you would keep getting better and better. About a year in, you might have your first standing ovation – one that moves you to tears. A few months later, a man in the audience may invite you to sing at his wedding – and while you’re performing for the bride, you would think back to everything started – the day you had the courage to go on stage.
The day you overcame your fear of failure and rejection, when you trusted yourself to succeed, is when you changed your life.
This is not just about becoming a better singer. In every part of your life – from weight loss and fitness to career success – what you achieve depends on the stories you tell yourself.
Thankfully, we can rewrite our stories and create opportunities for success. And if we want to, we can use these stories to start your own business, get leaner and fitter or become more honest in our relationships.
Even if you’ve failed over and over in the past. Even if you’ve tried what feels like million different things and nothing has worked. You CAN break out of a spiral of failure and negativity. And you CAN overcome your limiting beliefs to get the results you want.
Limiting Belief #1: If only …, then I could achieve …
It’s very easy for us to say things like: ‘If I was more outgoing, I would walk up to that guy’ or ‘If I could afford a gym membership, then I could lose 5 kg.’
And the thing about these types of beliefs is that they seem to be true. After all, it’s easier to lose weight if you can train at the gym 3-5 times a week.
But what we don’t realise is that we always have more than one option. Just because we don’t earn enough to pay for our gym membership doesn’t mean that we can’t go running every morning, do video workouts on YouTube or change up our diets.
Instead of focussing on the things we can’t change, we can shift our attention to what we can control.
Even if we can’t afford a gym membership yet, we can start working out for 30 minutes in our lunch break each day. We can just do online bodyweight workouts for now, and we can always go to gym once we have enough cash.
That’s how our limiting belief ‘If only I could afford a gym membership, then I could lose 5kg’ can become: ‘Even if I can’t afford a gym membership yet, I can lose 5kg by working out for 30 minutes during my lunch break every day’.
So we can change our story from ‘ If only …, then I could achieve …’ to ‘Even though …, I can achieve … by doing …’
Limiting Belief #2: I’ll never be able to do the same as him/her
When we see people who publish bestselling novels, win a medal at the Olympics or run 6-figure online businesses – we often tell ourselves that we could never do the same.
And I get it – I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I was younger, I thought I could never be popular, get along well with people and make friends. But looking back, I know I was scared to admit that I didn’t feel comfortable opening up to people. I was worried that I would be hurt again, like when I was bullied by my former friend in middle school.
Telling myself that I wasn’t likeable, and that I would never be like the popular kids, was my excuse for not putting myself out there. That way, I didn’t have to risk being rejected again, and I could stop feeling guilty and sad for not having any close friends.
But if I had been more honest at the time, I would have told myself that I just didn’t feel ready for another friendship. Or that I was always fumbling around nervously when trying to strike up a conversation – and that this was holding me back.
Now, I’ve realised that I cherish close relationships with a few people – and that I’ll never be like the popular kids who know everyone on campus, because that is not what I am looking for in a friendship.
So often times, our ‘I’ll never be able to do the same as him/her’ is actually our way of saying ‘I don’t want to …’ or ‘ I feel scared to ..’. And by being brutally honest with ourselves, we can reflect on our priorities and see where our emotions may be holding us back. If we want to, we then develop strategies to overcome these fears and make our dreams come true.
But sometimes, when I we say ‘Ill never be able to do the same as that guy or girl’ what we really mean is ‘I don’t know how to achieve a particular goal, but I can figure this out by doing X, Y and Z’.
Let’s say you want to publish a bestselling novel, but you have no clue where to start. Instead of giving up on your dream, you could decide to go to your local bookshop and talk the owners to find out which types of books sell best. You could also email editors from different publishing houses to ask for their advice. Or maybe, you would benefit from journaling for 30 minutes each to improve your writing skills – while talking to current authors about the challenges they faced. That way, you can turn your limiting belief into an action roadmap with several junctions – and you can create your own way forward.
Limiting belief #3: Because something bad happened to me in the past, I can’t do what I love
We often think that negative experiences in the past are stopping us from living a rich life today.
But if you look at the stories of successful people, they all had to deal with difficult experiences – ranging from bankruptcy and childhood neglect to alcohol abuse.
And if they could succeed in these circumstances– so can you! You just need to tell yourself the right story.
Yet many of us continue to limit our options and deny the alternatives that we have. We say things like ‘I can’t drive to work anymore due to my traumatic car accident five months ago’ or ‘I’ll never find a new job after being on sick leave for so long’ – when in reality, we just need to be more creative.
Usually, we’ll find a way to make our dreams come true – we just have to spot the special opportunities in our misfortune.
Like if we can’t drive to work anymore – maybe there’s a great job waiting for us around the corner of our house. Or maybe we’ll find someone who would be willing to take us to work every day – or to help us recover, so we can return to our office soon.
No matter how dire a situation may seem, we can always assume control, turn things around and use the circumstances to our advantage.
Limiting belief #4: Person X deserves to be punished for what they did to me
Another belief that can limit us is the idea that other people are responsible for our lives.
We clearly see this whenever something bad happens to us – rather than acknowledging our own role and responsibility, we often shift the blame to others.
Suppose you were in a fight with your friend and they kicked you in the knee. While they are undeniably responsible for kicking you, you would have probably been able to avoid get hurt by trying to deescalate the situation or asking for help.
Your emotions and behaviours at the time all contributed to the situation you got yourself caught up in, and even if it seems like your friend (or someone else) is responsible for harming you – you (at least subconsciously) consented to this.
And by telling yourself that the others are the only people responsible, you are denying yourself of the opportunity to change or make change happen.
That’s why it’s important to stop shifting the blame, and to acknowledge and accept our own responsibility.
Your beliefs can get you caught up in a victim mindset – but you can also transform your thoughts and acknowledge your own responsibility. And you can see how forgiving people and choosing to make change happen can help you feel in control of your life.
I’ve put together a free guide on how to forgive people and start letting go and I want to share it with you know.
If you’re ready to stop making excuses, break away from a cycle of powerlessness and make major change in your life, this free guide is for you.