We all have limiting beliefs. These are stories we subconsciously tell ourselves about what we can or can’t do, what we do or don’t deserve, and who we are or are not capable of becoming. Left unexamined, limiting beliefs may prevent us from achieving our goals, finding fulfillment, and unlocking our highest potential.
In this podcast, hosts Dave Gorham and Matt Walley dive deep into where limiting beliefs come from, how to identify them, and most importantly, how to challenge them so you can transform stagnating narratives into empowering beliefs that set you free.
The Origins of Limiting Beliefs
To understand how to disrupt limiting beliefs, it’s helpful first to explore where they originate from. As Dave and Matt explain, our beliefs are absorbed from the world around us throughout our lives. Key influences include:
Role Models in Childhood
Our earliest role models – like parents, caregivers, teachers – shape our core belief systems. Their behaviors and even unconscious limiting beliefs leave an imprint on us as children and become internalized as truth.
For example, if a father constantly criticizes his son’s abilities, his son may adopt the belief “I’m just not good enough.” This belief then limits his confidence and potential long into adulthood.
Cultural Norms and Values
The culture and society we grow up in teaches us assumed rules for how the world works and what’s possible for people like us. These cultural standards seep into our subconscious beliefs.
For instance, a young girl raised in a community that as a whole still emphasizes long held
beliefs around the limited opportunities for women may absorb that limited thinking. Over time
that can result in beliefs like “I can’t be a scientist” or “Women shouldn’t be ambitious,” and her
ambitions then become restricted by these false cultural narratives.
Education and Knowledge Gathering
Well-intentioned as it may be, formal education often teaches us “facts” and standards that inadvertently limit our beliefs about ourselves and others.
A student who struggles with math may get labeled “not a math person” by teachers, even though they have the innate aptitude, just not the right learning approach yet. This belief can haunt them for life.
Unconscious Absorption from Life Experiences
We pick up limiting beliefs from subtle life experiences starting in childhood. An offhand judgment from a peer, a small failure, a stray comment – all quietly implant self-limiting beliefs that can affect us for a lifetime if not addressed.
Imagine a 12-year-old girl eager to make friends. But one day she awkwardly misreads social cues and gets excluded from a party. She adopts the belief “I’m socially weird” which sticks with her for decades, stunting her confidence.
Identifying Your Limiting Beliefs
Because they operate in your subconscious, the first step is dragging your limiting beliefs into the light. Ask yourself:
- What chronic stress, frustration, and resistance do I feel in my life?
- What drama and conflict do my beliefs create with others?
- What goals and dreams feel impossible for me to achieve?
- Where do I think “I can’t do that” about myself?
These are entry points to excavate the limiting beliefs that constrain you from your potential.
Challenging Limiting Beliefs
Once identified, there are proven tactics to challenge limiting beliefs:
Journal About Your Beliefs
Write the belief down clearly. Re-read it after 24 hours for a fresh perspective. New insights will emerge.
Get An Outside Opinion
Share your belief with trusted friends. Does it seem valid from their perspective? Hearing from others helps us detach from beliefs we’ve overly identified with.
Advise Yourself As a Friend
If a dear friend had this belief, what would you say to them? Take your own advice!
Has this belief always been true? What past experiences contradict it? Hard evidence trumps inner doubts.
Research Opposing Views
What do experts say that disrupts your limiting belief? Knowledge expands limiting lenses.
Visualize and Affirm Alternatives
Imagine how your life would transform with a new empowering belief. Then affirm it through positive self-talk.
Fake It ‘til You Make It
Act as if the empowering belief is already true, despite doubts, and it will gradually become your reality.
Our actions shape our beliefs as much as our beliefs shape our actions.
Let’s see this technique in action.
Imagine Sarah, a college student, freezes up when speaking in class due to her belief that “I’m terrified of public speaking.”
First, Sarah journals about where this belief came from. She remembers always being a shy child and flubbing a class presentation in middle school, cementing her fear.
Sarah asks friends if they also believe public speaking is terrifying. They reassure her that everyone gets nervous, but her fear is unreasonable.
She reminds herself that she easily orders food in restaurants and chats with peers daily, so she can speak confidently in public. Her past failures weren’t inevitable.
Reading about exposure therapy, she vows to start small by complimenting someone each day. Finding she can do this comfortably, Sarah gradually exposes herself to more challenging speaking situations while affirming “I can speak confidently when I choose to.”
Within a few months, the once terrifying belief has transformed into “With practice, I can speak competently in public.”
The Liberation of Changing Beliefs
Disrupting limiting beliefs takes dedicated focus and intention. But steadily replacing old constraints with empowering beliefs liberates us to create the lives we truly want.
It allows the eager but doubting student to become the valedictorian, the chronically single
person to find fulfilling relationships, the frustrated worker to build their dream career, and the
wannabe entrepreneur to launch the business they always envisioned.
By upgrading the narratives running through our subconscious, we install new and improved operating systems for greater achievement. Limiting beliefs are just old programs that no longer serve the people we aspire to become. When we identify and rewrite them, we reclaim the power to achieve our boldest dreams and highest potential.
What limiting belief are you ready to rewrite today?