What Are Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are simply beliefs that you hold in your head that constrain you in some fashion, usually when trying to achieve some sort of progress in your life. These beliefs are always false, but are so entrenched into your consciousness that you have difficulty believing otherwise.
Some examples of the most common beliefs I see are the following:
- Failure is a negative thing. If I fail, I should be embarrassed.
- I am not good enough in most people’s eyes.
- If I do not do “X” or act a certain way, people will not love me.
- I am not smart enough to achieve the goals I set out for myself
Do any of the above sound familiar? The answer is more than likely yes! I know that I personally have experienced all of the above beliefs at one point in my life or another. The important thing to realize here is that holding these beliefs is nothing to be shameful of. Most limiting beliefs, if not all of them, are instilled into us at a very young age unintentionally by your parents or by whomever raised you. (Before you go yelling at your parents, realize that these beliefs were probably instilled into them by their parents and their parents, and their parents, so its not their fault!).
Why Are Limiting Beliefs So Bad?
If you have ever seen the movie, The Usual Suspects, you will most likely remember the ending scene when Kevin Spacey’s character reveals himself to be the infamous Keyser Soze, hiding in plain sight in front of everyone, including the police officers investigating him. In that scene he says the line “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”.
Call limiting beliefs the devil, or call them what you will, but limiting beliefs essentially do the same thing as Keyser Soze did – hide in plain sight. They are burrowed deeply into your conscious, yet present at all times without you ever realizing it, and this is what makes them so harmful. Unchecked, they can wreak havoc on your state of being.
Have you ever wondered what made you so nervous to ask someone out on a date or make a speech in public? What about why you never seem to get out of debt or earn more money at work? Or what about wondering why Kevin, the “water cooler” guy at work always seems to be the center of attention, when no one gives you a second look? The answer to all of these questions is most likely limiting beliefs.
Lets look at the fear of public speaking for example, also known as glossophobia. Most people say that have a higher fear of public speaking than death. What really is so scary of public speaking? Is it life threatening to give a speech to hundred of people? Of course not! So why do so many people fear it?
Well, the simple answer is that people have a belief that public speaking is scary. But that is too obvious, so lets dig deeper. One may believe that public speaking is scary because they have a deep rooted fear of failure. This is most commonly due to having the limiting belief “Failure Is Bad”.
When you get up in front of a huge crowd, you start to think that if you make a mistake, you will look like a failure in front of so many people and that is a bad thing. However if you really think about the phrase “failure is bad” you will begin to realize that there is not such thing! “Failure is bad” is just an opinion, or to but it another way, just another possibility. There is no universal law or official decree that says failure has to be bad. Its only bad, if you believe it to be bad.
So when you break the whole thing down as we did above, you can start to see that there really is no reason to fear public speaking is bad unless you define it that way.
How To Dissolve Limiting Beliefs
Now that we have a better understanding of what limiting beliefs are, lets look at the easiest way to get rid of them. There are countless techniques for letting go of limiting beliefs, and they are pretty easy to find if you do a simple google search, however, I feel most of these techniques fall short. Most of them consist of repeating mantras to yourself or or silly little exercises. These techniques may work in the short run, but I find that for most people they limiting beliefs eventually come back. To permanently get rid of the beliefs, you need to try something more powerful.
The best approach I have found for tackling this is to simply redefine the problem. So what do I mean by that? Most people will see this problem as I outlined above; there are limiting beliefs present and we need to get rid of them. But what if instead of getting rid of the beliefs themselves, we get rid of the cause of the limiting beliefs. When you redefine the problem that way, it seems to make much more sense. Why waste time searching and getting rid of beliefs on an individual basis when can get rid of the cause and eliminate all of them?
Are You da Vinci Or Mona Lisa?
Ok, so now that we have the problem redefined, lets look for a solution by searching for the cause of the beliefs. And what is the cause?…..ultimately, its you! How is that so? How are you causing your own limiting beliefs? The answer is that you are actually creating them. To explain this easier, lets look what I call the “Mona Lisa” analogy.
Leonardo da Vinci was arguably one of the most well known artist of all time, mostly due to his painting “The Mona Lisa”. Now obviously, to create The Mona Lisa, da Vinci simply took some paint and added it to a blank canvas and voila!, Mona Lisa was created (I know Art Lovers, I’m understating his talent here, but lets neglect that for the sake of this example!) .
Now, much in the same way, we can say that is how limiting beliefs are formed. When you were first brought into this world, you can say that your ego or lower self was much like the blank canvas, open and ready to be painted on. As you grew older, your consciousness or higher self was much like da Vinci, painting away on you like the blank canvas, only instead of paint, consciousnesses used beliefs. Now no one really knows who da Vinci used as a model for Mona Lisa, but we can say that consciousness uses your environment its model painting whatever beliefs it sees onto your ego or canvas. Pretty soon, and without you realizing it, your ego becomes the Mona Lisa of beliefs.
Now here is the good part; the way to get rid of the cause of limiting beliefs is simply to realize that deep down, you are really consciousness, not your ego! Even though your “Mona Lisa”, aka ego, has been created, you are not really her, you are da Vinci! Too many people feel as if they have been created they way they are and it is impossible to change, and this is simply false. You truly are the da Vinci of your own life. When you think of it that way, you begin to see that you are the creator of your beliefs and you are able to change them at any time, in any way possible!
I hope today’s post has been an insightful one for you. The power of limiting beliefs is amazingly strong, but with the proper thinking and realignment of definitions it can easily be defeated. Once you get the hang on this, you world really opens up and you begin to see that anything is possible. I am going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs which pretty much sums up this post and demonstrates the power of beliefs:
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”