I write, coach and speak to people for a living. As a coach, I often help my clients recognize that things they believe are facts are sometimes both untrue and disabling. Breaking past these limiting beliefs is one of the most important roles I play as a coach.
So, how do you know if you have limiting beliefs standing between you and the life of your dreams? How are they formed? How do you get rid of them?
If you have goals that you’ve always wanted to achieve and haven’t, chances are there are limiting beliefs at the root. These are beliefs that keep us from moving forward. For me, I used to believe that I couldn’t earn a living as a writer or a business owner. I spent many years doing work that I was interested in, but not passionate about. Then, one day I realized that people make a living as writers and business owners in many industries. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are entrepreneurs. That’s an example of breaking past a limiting belief.
Limiting beliefs can be formed in a variety of ways.
- Childhood: Your parents are your first teachers. They may have taught you some of your limiting beliefs. Perhaps they said you aren’t smart or pretty. Maybe they set an expectation for your career options. As kids, it’s natural to believe what our parents tell us but they have limiting beliefs too. It’s important to question those early lessons.
- Social circle: The people we know through family, friends and community teach us what is possible for us. We believe what we see with our own eyes. So, if you want to be a world-class chef, but you’ve only met the guy who flips burgers at your local diner, it’s difficult to imagine becoming a successful chef. That could be true for being a doctor, lawyer, musician or any other work that you consider a dream job.
- Life events: Major life experiences impact our belief system and may create limiting beliefs. For example, if you have a wonderful marriage, you might believe people who have been single for a long time are unstable. If you received a big promotion, you might believe people who struggle financially don’t work as hard as you do. If you experienced a negative life event, like a robbery in a mall or a business failure, you may believe both malls and business startups are inherently unsafe.
The easiest way to identify limiting beliefs is to write them down and examine them. I discussed this in my June 25th blog, The Truth Behind the Lie: How Can You Slay Self-Doubt? Try this exercise:
- Write a list of limitations you believe about yourself, then go back and examine if they’re really true. Your list might look something like this:
- I’m not really smart.
- I don’t come from money.
- Take each statement and challenge it. Maybe you have average intelligence, but so does everyone else. That’s why it’s average. When you say you don’t come from money, what resources do you have access to? If you live in the United States, you are wealthy compared to people in many other parts of the world and have access to abundant free resources through libraries, government agencies and non-profits. You can Google your way to just about any information you need. This is just an example. Take time to challenge your beliefs about yourself.
Limiting beliefs form as a way of protecting us from harm, and over time can narrow our capacity for growth until we find ourselves feeling trapped in a tunnel. If you have goals that you haven’t achieved and maybe aren’t even working toward, you can be confident that limiting beliefs are in play. So how do you get rid of these pesky dream-killers and replace them with empowering beliefs? Here are my tips:
- Muster the courage to dream. Many of us are scared to dream because we’re terrified of failure. Living a life without dreaming is already unconscious failure so you have nothing to lose. It’s a harsh reality, but I hope you will embrace that. Put your big-girl panties (or boxers) on, pull out your journal and write down what you really want to see in your life. Where do you want to live? What kind of work do you want to do? What kind of friends and relationships do you want to have? Who do you want to impact? According to world-renowned motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, “The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself.” So, ask yourself some questions and don’t be afraid of your answers!
- Become a life-long learner. We live in a time with incredible access to data. Read books that inspire and encourage you like 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness and Thinking Outside the Chrysalis. Follow the blogs and podcasts of influencers like myself and others who set an example and provide resources to help you reach your goals.
- Replace limiting words with empowering ones. That little voice in your head is often noisy and busy, but remember you are the boss. India Arie brilliantly sang in her song Get it Together, “The words that come from your mouth you’re the first to hear.” Try replacing “I can’t” with “I won’t” or “I will” and reclaim your power.
- Visualize the future you want. Take time on a regular basis to practice visualization. Each one of us has an electromagnetic field around us that we share with the surrounding biosphere. We are constantly in nonverbal communication. When we visualize our desired future, we change our energy field. Create a vision board, watch The Secret or try mindmovies.com to help you with visualization. I’m hosting a virtual vision-boarding and visualization workshop on Saturday, December 4th so stay tuned for details.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It seems counterintuitive but asking for help can be the ultimate in courage. Reach out to supportive friends and mentors and build a community of like-minded people who want to find passion and purpose in life. You can start with groups on Meetup or Facebook or work with one-on-one or group coaching programs. If you haven’t already, check out my Black Vegan Life™ group on Meetup and Black Girl Butterflyz on Facebook, and get ready for the launch of the Mind-Blowing Happiness Circle on December 12th. No matter which route you take, support is critical for success.
Limiting beliefs can make us miss out on the life we really want. Summon up the courage to dream, be a life-long learner, embrace empowering words, visualize your best future ever and get in a community of like-minded folks to attain your juiciest life ever! You deserve it.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. This week’s photo is from Kai Dahms from Unsplash. If you’re looking to build community to break past limiting beliefs, follow me on social media and take the Mind-Blowing Happiness 12 Day Challenge, then join me on November 11th for the Mind-Blowing Happiness Virtual Book Launch and 11/11 Intention Setting Event. You can sign up with the link below.