The problem with self-limiting beliefs is that they can be so sneaky. Quite often we aren’t even aware that these little negative ideas are lurking in the shadows.
Equally as challenging is that sometimes we are completely aware of them yet don’t recognize them as what they are – roadblocks that hold us back!
The list below is by no means comprehensive, but it should be enough to give you a start. Read through these items and think of what comes to mind. I’ve even listed a few as fill-in-the blanks.
Also notice how many of them are cliches. These are phrases we’ve heard for so many years we don’t even question whether they are true, or if there might be some underlying negative meaning.
For one example, if you’re old enough you probably heard your parents say “Waste not, want not!”. On the surface that’s fine. Personally, I like being a good steward of the earth and hate to waste anything. However, there is also a negative aspect of that. It came from people who grew up in or shortly after the Great Depression. For most people in those days, extreme scarcity was the norm. For them, that cliche was a dire warning that said “there isn’t enough, there is never enough!”. It was all about lack, lack, lack!
So here are some ideas. What can you add to your own personal list?
The old stand-bys (in no particular order):
It’s too late.
I wouldn’t know where to start.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
I’m not the type to be self-motivated.
I’m a procrastinator.
I have too many other responsibilities.
I should be farther along by now.
If I get my hopes up I’ll just be disappointed.
It has never worked before.
I’ve never been able to finish anything.
No one else has ever done it.
I can’t get organized.
I’ve never been able to manage my time well.
I’m not outgoing enough.
I’m not self-confident.
If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.
I can’t feel good about myself without other people’s approval.
I’ll never be happy until that other person changes. (spouse, parent, child, ex, friend…)
It’s selfish to put my own needs before those of my family and friends.
It’s selfish to enjoy life while other people are suffering.
Nothing ever really changes.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
I don’t deserve to be happy because I’m not really a good person.
I’m always late.
I’m a terrible cook.
Give somebody an inch and they will take a mile.
Men are weak.
Women are weak.
Men can’t be trusted.
Women can’t be trusted.
Love never lasts anyway.
I never have good luck.
I always get sick in winter.
Life is hard.
Fill in the blank:
All women are ______________.
Women only like ______________.
Women don’t like men who are _______________.
All men are ______________.
Men only like ______________.
Men don’t like women who are _______________.
Money is the root of all evil.
Money is not that important. It’s only money.
Money is there to be spent.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
I’m just not good with money.
My family has never been rich.
There is only so much money to go around.
The only way to get wealth is to work really hard.
Time is money.
You can be rich, or you can be happy.
You can be rich, or you can be healthy.
It’s selfish to want to be rich when so many people are poor.
It’s better to give than to receive.
If I became wealthy, my friends wouldn’t like me any more.
The single, two-word limiting belief that covers it all:
Did any of the above sound way too familiar? Don’t worry, and whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. The purpose of this list isn’t to make you feel bad. Nor is it to belittle or make light of your feelings. We’ve all experienced times when there is no denying that yes, life really is hard, at least in that particular situation or circumstance or moment. Trying to deny or “shout down” your feelings is ridiculous, and that isn’t the point.
Rather, the purpose here is just to raise your awareness, to bring your attention to the source of what your little inner voice is saying. Simply being aware is a huge first step. Acknowledge your feelings and be kind to yourself. At the same time, though, beware of bad feelings that have no real basis, those that come from your little inner voice spouting off put-downs that aren’t even true. Hopefully you’ll start to realize when these beliefs rear their ugly little heads. Over time you can even learn to stop letting them control your decisions and actions.
Digging Deeper: If you’re interested, you’ll find more info and some helpful resources on our website. You might want to check out these pages:
- Self Limiting Beliefs
- Meet Guy Finely – the “letting go” guru
- Positive Affirmations
- Meet John Assaraf (the guy with a passion for scientific research on how the brain works and how it can be re-trained)