Limiting beliefs are beliefs that limit us. Put another way, they are excuses on why we fail or why we refuse to even try. Hold a belief long enough in your mind, even if it is fallacious, and over time it becomes truth. Over time, you do become what you think.
In general, we have three types of limiting beliefs.
These are social conventions brought upon by society. Examples include
- Dating and marrying within your own race
- What other people, including your own family members say, matters
- We have to do certain things in certain ways, because that’s how it has always been done!
- Constant bombardment from the media on how to eat, drink, sleep, dress, act, etc.
Surround yourself with enough information to confirm your biases, and soon you will be right.
Hard Barrier Limiting beliefs
These are real barriers, such as the age limit and physical requirements set for law enforcement positions or requirements for admissions into organizations, academic institutions, and job positions. Other examples include default biases in certain athletic professions, such as the NBA. If you are only 5’5″, you would very likely struggle much more than someone who is 6’6″.
As Randy Pausch said, “The walls are there for a reason. It shows how badly you want something.”
Your Limiting beliefs
This last category of beliefs are often built upon the first two categories just discussed. For example, you may have thought about running your own business, but your own family members criticized you for even having such a thought, saying that running a business takes a lot of upfront capital (read: money), something you lack.
Smash Those Limiting Beliefs!
The thing about beliefs–good or bad–is that they have power over you for as long as you choose to believe them. Believe in something positive and you will go very far in life. Believe in something negative and you limit how far you get in life.
The beautiful thing about limiting beliefs is that one is able to transcend them when one first conceives the notion of doing so.
Find models and emulate them. It really helps to be able to look at someone else who went through similar trials and tribulations, and to say, “If he can do it, I can do it!” Models can be more than people you know. It can be historical figures or self-improvement gurus.
Choose your thoughts carefully. Retrain yourself to stop thinking negatively. Instead, focus on what you can do. Stop making excuses and start making the life you want through affirmations.
When Jim Carrey was a struggling actor, he often went up above the Hollywood Hills in his beat-up Toyota. Sitting up there, he visualized the future he wanted. He even wrote himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered”. If Jim can do it, so can you!
Another tool for your consideration is a vision board or even a vision screensaver you run on your computer. Here, you find pictures representative of the dream or life you want and put them on the board. The pictures are there to remind you and stimulate you. Everyday, look at the vision board and visualize your future.
Believe It and You Will See It
How many times have you heard this old cliche when it comes to job hunting? I will believe it when I see it. This means the job seeker will only believe he has the job once an offer letter is on the table.
Did Jim Carrey sit around and sulk, saying that he’ll believe making it as a successful, 8-figure earning comedian once someone offers him his big paycheck? Far from it! Take the first step: Make a decision to be successful in your endeavors!
Step out of the Victim Mentality
Once you can see that it is possible, you will stop feeling sorry for yourself. You will stop blaming your inactivity and inaction on excuses, society, and other people.
Empower yourself. Take the initiative. Start taking proactive action towards affirming the life you want.
You will fail a lot, especially when you are first starting out. Know that failure is just a part of the learning process and that we all learn from our mistakes. What separates the winners from the whiners is how fast we rebound from our failures and how persistent we are in keeping the path.
Beware of Cognitive Dissonance
We constantly look for information to confirm to our viewpoint of the world. This is called confirmatory bias. If we encounter contrary information , we go through cognitive dissonance, that general discomfort our brain causes us because we now have information that challenges our long-held beliefs. You should always strive to look at yourself objectively, free of your ego and excuses.
We Are Our 5 Closest Friends
Want to see where you will be in life? Just take a look at your 5 closest friends. Our friends may be well-meaning but they also have their own limiting beliefs and insecurities that they project onto us. One of the signs of real growth is when you learn to shut out the noise of other people and start believing in yourself.
When Oprah Winfrey made a decision to lose weight, her current circle of friends started to distant themselves from her. They were content being overweight. Oprah, on the other hand, decided to find new friends to support her new goals.
Finally, you have to take action. You can read about this stuff all day long but taking action is what leads to results.
Smashing our limiting beliefs may very well be one of the more difficult things to do. After all, our beliefs are what make us who we are. Start off slow and make small tweaks. Small tweaks often lead to big changes.