Earlier in life, I was always afraid of senior career positions. I used to apply for junior and entry-level jobs even after many years of employment because I didn’t believe I could handle the senior ranks. Yet each time a senior position became vacant, I was the first person the boss would contact. They saw my potential, but I could never see it because of my self-limiting beliefs.
Eventually, I would find a reason to decline the promotion. What are you struggling with?
Believe it or not, we all battle with self-limiting beliefs. Are you fearful of signing up for that mortgage because you’re so scared you might not pay it fully? Or is committing to a relationship an uphill task for you?
In this article, I will discuss this fear within us and share practical tips for overcoming these self-limiting beliefs.
What are Self-limiting Beliefs?
Fact: There are no limits to what you can achieve except for the limits you set in your mind. And this is what sets humans apart. Some people become iconic leaders while others amass massive wealth, yet some still struggle in life. This is one way of looking at it. For you and me, think of the small challenges you encounter in life. Are you truly incapable of handling them, or are you just afraid of trying and failing?
Self-limiting beliefs are self-developed thoughts, consciously or subconsciously, that we use to convince ourselves that we can’t do something because we are afraid of failing or getting hurt. Consequently, we don’t even allow ourselves to try. Such limiting thoughts are one of the biggest preventers of achieving our goals. And that’s why we need to learn to control and eventually overcome them. So how do we do that?
Practical Steps to Overcome Self-limiting Beliefs
#1: Identify Your Limiting Belief(s)
What are you so afraid of and why?
- Are you scared of getting married because your father abused your mom?
- Are you afraid of getting kids because your parents abandoned you when you were little?
- Are you afraid of management positions at work because you feel voiceless?
Identifying your self-made limits is your first step to overcoming them. You will need to use your intelligence and accept vulnerability, more like healing your inner child.
#2: Work On Your Confidence
There are several ways to develop self-confidence. The easiest is the use of positive affirmations. The idea is to re-condition your mind into believing what you had otherwise categorized as impossible. You could also apply the law of attraction. Anything you focus your mind on without a shred of doubt eventually comes to be. If you constantly think about boldness, confidence, and assertion, you eventually become bolder, more confident, and more assertive.
Self-confidence enables us to move out of our comfort zone. We are no longer afraid to try because we believe in our potential. And even if you fail, you believe you can win tomorrow. Besides, you become your own cheerleader and no longer seek approval from others. That’s how powerful we become when we are confident from the inside.
#3: Set New Goals
Be realistic and set achievable targets. However, always have one clear goal at all times that you’re working towards. That goal should be the most significant on your list. Also, note that big goals are good, but they can demotivate you. Divide these goals into smaller tasks that you can easily achieve.
For every achievement, your mind registers a win and naturally handles the next task with ease. This way, you find yourself accomplishing tasks you never imagined were possible and consequently become unstoppable in achieving your lifelong dreams.
#4: Challenge Your Thoughts
Why do you give yourself bad labels such as “I am stupid, slow, worthless, ugly, useless,” etc.? Is it because someone in your past called you that? Did they really have a solid basis to give you that label? How well do they know you? Have they seen the woman or man you have become lately?
Asking your inner self such questions helps you to look at the other side of the coin. For example, just because my skin has acne doesn’t mean I’m ugly. It’s just one of the many stages in life. And just because I have mobility challenges doesn’t mean I am useless. I still have the brain and hands to write my next bestseller. Challenge your thoughts, whether good or bad, and you will realize that not every gospel you hear is factual.
#5: Develop an Alternative Plan
We don’t have control over our limiting beliefs because they provide a soft fallback. We don’t take risks because we fear getting hurt or hurting others. Say, for example, you’re afraid of getting kids because you’re scared you’ll never be a good mom. Instead of dwelling on being single for the rest of your life, how about you start accommodating other kids in your home and see how well you nurture them?
You can request your siblings or friends to drop off their toddlers over the weekend and dedicate your energy to looking after them just as if they were your own. After a few months, your natural motherly instincts will start to kick in, and who knows, you might start looking at kids differently.
If you’re afraid of public speaking because you feel invisible or you’re afraid your voice is not good enough, how about you start by recording podcasts?
Or, if you constantly feel worthless, how about starting a small project that gives you a sense of belonging? Like donating your coffee to a homeless person every morning. Or helping an elderly neighbor water their flowers every weekend.
The Bottom Line
It’s very easy to develop self-limiting beliefs, especially with a rough childhood or a traumatic past. Our mind is constantly working to protect our fragile ego from getting hurt again. However, the sooner you realize how much you have been missing in your quest to play safe, the sooner you need to break these limiting thoughts and redefine yourself. Your potential starts and ends in your mind. Dare to dream again and develop unshakable confidence because only you can do it.