Self-Limiting Beliefs: The Inner Enemies of Progress

Based upon thoughts from Oma Edoja and others..

What are Self –Limiting Beliefs?

Self-limiting beliefs are those things you believe about yourself that place limitations on your ability to succeed in your endeavors. They may be conscious or unconscious. They may be founded or unfounded.

A couple of examples are:

  • I am not as effective a sales person as I need to be, I won’t be able to close this deal, or
  • I am not physically attractive enough; I won’t get the job.

That you are not as effective a sales person as you need to be may well be true. That won’t be able to close this deal, as a result, definitely isn’t. Potential customers choose to purchase a product and/or service for reasons that go beyond the characteristics of the sales person, although they do choose emotionally. And being “physically attractive” most often is not the most critical criterion for determining the outcome of a selection interview. In most case, people are selected for particular job based upon the presence (or absence) of the knowledge, skills abilities to perform effectively in the role and, more importantly, their attitude about work, in general, and the specific job they are applying for. Personally there has been only one occasion that I selected to include ‘attractive’ and that was for a particular reception role in a beauty-based organsiation.

Limitations can be very real but are often only a thing of the mind. In reality, we have more possibilities than limitations. ‘You can do anything if you make up your mind to do it’ may sound over triumphal but it’s the more useful and better way to think.

Determination always finds a way around obstacles. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can…. or if you think you can’t…you’re right!” It all depends on what you believe about yourself. Another, equally famous person, Walt Disney stated, “If you can dream it, you can live it.” Positive thoughts that move beyond self limitation set the way for many iconoclasts.

How do Self-Limiting Beliefs work?

Our thoughts and beliefs color our vision and perception of the world. They determine our actions or inactions. Thoughts affect feelings. Feelings affect behavior. Behavior produces results (or the lack of them). It all begins with our thoughts, since we have to accept a thought for it to become a belief.

It’s been said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. You do not believe what you see; rather you see what you already believe. For this reason, two people facing the same situation may interpret it differently, act according to their different beliefs and experience different outcomes.

Self-limiting beliefs act like brakes on our progress. They leave us acting forward, but believing backward. They have been described as a malicious thermostat; you can take all the action you want, and in the right direction too. But anytime you make progress, the thermostat pulls you back to conform to your inner negative programming.

Attempting to move forward when you have backward programming is like expecting a photocopy to be different from the original. You’ve got to work on the original copy first, change the blue print, modify the DNA.

Your thoughts and beliefs are your programming. You cannot move beyond them. To get out of the vicious cycle of acting forward but believing backward you’ve got to identify these malicious thermostats, and eliminate them, consciously and continuously. Sometimes it’s a lifelong battle, but one that you can win each time.

What can I do about my Self-Limiting Beliefs?

Fortunately, you can move on from self-limiting beliefs. But first you have to identify them. They could be lurking in the recesses of our minds without our awareness. Talking with a close intimate friend, a trusted colleague/peer, and/or discussing this issue with a coach could provide you with a more objective point-of-view as to what they view as being your self-limiting beliefs.

Once identified the mistaken approach is that you can always just deny them, or you can determine that you won’t do that again, think that way again etc. A sort of mental super-hero supremacy over your thought pattern, which has limited potency. It is true that when self-limiting thoughts are starved of attention they tend to die, and whatever you give attention to increases. So its worth making the first line point of change a veto of the thought, being aware of the feelings. But you have to be quick and sometimes the emotions are just too strong. The annoying result can be you still find yourself thinking the way you didn’t want to do!

The good news is that the brain can change. You can change you thinking by finding new ways to approach your area of belief. In practice creating a new ‘belief habit’ that becomes the choice, rather than the old belief.

Good coaching focuses to allow you to see the belief pattern, helps find ways to reframe thinking, creating a new belief pattern, and leads to options for a new pathway.

Read what the experts have said about our beliefs:

• Belief always precedes action. -James Allen
(We won’t even attempt something unless we first believe we can accomplish it. No belief, no action, i.e. procrastination.)

• Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs. -Maxwell Maltz

• Once your thoughts reflect what you genuinely want to be, the appropriate emotions and the consequent behavior will flow automatically. Believe it and you will see it. -Wayne Dyer

In a nut shell, you can control the thoughts that play around in your mind. Admit and nurture only those that enhance your positive programming and move you to your goals.

Possible sources of our Self-Limiting Beliefs.

Limiting beliefs could come from the things people said to us and about us while we grew up. Now is the time to devastate these weeds. They could also come from listening to negative people, watching/listening to negative TV and radio programs, reading negative books and magazines, and repeatedly hearing negative song lyrics. Always be on the look-out for possible sources, not fearfully, but with the view to detect and devastate them.

A proactive approach to effectively dealing with our Self-Limiting Beliefs.

A better way to deal with self-limiting thoughts is to prevent them in the first place. Examining the list of sources above will give you an idea of where their opposites (self-empowering beliefs) can be found – in the opposite directions! If you spend time with wholesome people and material, this will build healthy, wholesome thought patterns. A mind that is girded with strong, empowering thoughts is in fit enough condition to resist invasion by these malicious, illegal aliens.

Invest in inspirational books, seminars, CDs etc. Engage in positive self-talk or affirmations. And just in case self-limiting thoughts slip through unnoticed, perform periodic “mind-sanitation exercises” where you do some self-evaluation. Sometimes a seminar attendance or listening to an audio program is what will alert you of this incursion.