How To Identify And Release Your Limiting Beliefs
Anytime we go on a trip, we have to figure out what to pack in our suitcase to take with us and what we need to leave behind. The same is true for our life journey. We carry so many things with us through our lives, and there are a number of things that we don’t even need. I’m reminded of this every 6 months or so when I look around the house and start the pile of things to be donated. But beyond our physical belongings, there is mental and emotional baggage that we need to release. One of these is limiting beliefs.
Our limiting beliefs are often impressed upon us from an early age by our families, our religion, our culture and the society we live in, and can take a variety of forms:
- “It has always been done this way” limiting beliefs around the topic at hand, whether it is about how to make a decision, how to spend and celebrate the holidays, or how or what to choose as a career path.
- “I am” statements, such as I am too stupid or slow or ugly or poor or unlovable or undeserving…this list can be endless.
- Societal, family or cultural beliefs, such as “girls should be quiet” or “everyone in our family works in the family business.”
Probably one of the most famous examples of a limiting belief was around the ability of a person to run a 4-minute mile. For years, it was believed that it was impossible for a person to run a mile in under four minutes. This was widely shared and believed by most in the running world. And then, in 1954, Roger Bannister did the impossible: he ran a mile in less than four minutes. The limiting belief had been proven false, and soon after many more runners began running a mile in less than four minutes. A limiting belief holds you back and prevents you from seeing a situation or opportunity from a different perspective that might better align with your life. Limiting beliefs can be so ingrained in our minds and belief system that it can be extremely difficult to even recognize them.
What to Do with Limiting Beliefs
One way to start recognizing a limiting belief is to imagine yourself doing something that you haven’t had the courage to do. And then listen to what the voice in your head starts saying to you. Those statements could be limiting beliefs. Another way is to start asking yourself “why” and “why not” to those things that you typically accept as how things should be done without any thought until you either find a satisfactory answer that supports your decision or highlights a limiting belief.
So, for example, if your family all lives in the same town, and you’ve lived your life in that same town as well, you could ask yourself a series of “why” and “why not” questions that may lead you to realize that the geographical location of your house was based on your love of your family and the community or to the discovery that your family’s limiting belief about having to live in the same community has held you back from living in a big city two states away.
Once you are aware of a limiting belief, you can then change your perspective about that belief. It takes courage to do this because it demands that you look deeply inward and recognize that there are opportunities for you to improve yourself and release things that no longer suit you. It requires you to change and work through an uncertain and potentially difficult time as you redefine what you believe for your life. And, depending on the limiting belief, it may even require that you stand up for yourself or break through boundaries that were designed to hold in you and back. You may need to employ a variety of tactics to help retrain your brain to reject the limiting belief, but once you have, you are that much closer to living an authentic life. You will weaken and eventually dissipate the impact of the limiting belief on your life, lightening the baggage you carry through life and giving yourself the gift of greater personal freedom.
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