Limiting Beliefs – What They Are & How To Change Them
So what exactly are ‘limiting beliefs’? A limiting belief is ANY belief that you have that ‘limits’ your life in some way, or is in some way disadvantageous to you.
But what does this mean?
In order for human beings to ‘make sense’ of the world we inhabit, from an early age we create ‘codes’ that allow us to make sense of what we see and experience.
These ‘codes’ can be referred to as ‘belief systems’ and we will tend to use them in the same way, until something happens that makes us consider ‘modifying’ or even ‘re-writing’ them – this usually occurs when we encounter ‘contradictory’ information, something that indicates that our belief system is in need of ‘tweaking’.
I Believe in Santa Claus
OK, I don’t, but I certainly did some years ago.
When I think back to those ‘heady’ days of my childhood I can easily remember the ‘nights before Christmas’ when I tried to go to sleep filled with the excitement of all the lovely presents that Santa was going to deliver to the bottom of my bed the next day.
My belief in Santa created a whole range of ‘lovely and exciting’ emotions and I would definitely say that this particular belief system ‘benefited’ me.
Of course, I don’t believe in Santa anymore, so something had to have ‘happened’ for me to change my belief.
Well, what happened was that when I was about 6 years old, a friend at school told me that Santa wasn’t real and that I should search around the house before Christmas to find where my Mum and Dad had hidden all the presents.
So that’s what I did and rather unsurprisingly (now) I found them under their bed, and from that moment on my belief system changed.
Because I had ‘discovered’ a piece of ‘evidence’ that was so contradictory to what I had previously believed, that I HAD to change my belief system completely!
But Believing in Santa is a Childish Belief System!
That’s true, but actually a significant number of the belief systems that people ‘walk’ around with on a day-to-day basis are also ‘childish’, or at the very least, were ‘formed’ during childhood.
Examples of Limiting Beliefs
- Walking on the cracks in the pavement brings bad luck
- If it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough
- People in authority should be feared
- Phobias can never be changed
- The only way I could be a millionaire is if I win the Lottery
- You should always think about the mistakes you make
- Lucky charms influence outcomes
- Getting things wrong is bad
- You must ALWAYS respect your elders
- You cannot change the path of your life
- People are always out to ‘get’ you
Are Some Limiting Beliefs More Important Than Others?
Despite the name ‘limiting beliefs’ there are some limiting beliefs that have very little impact on your day-to-day life, for example, “you should never wear brown shoes with black trousers” – it’s limiting because the underlying ‘idea’ behind this belief is that it will somehow ‘look wrong’ and that people observing this clothing ‘error’ will make a negative judgement about you.
The ‘reality’ is that the vast majority of people probably don’t care about your choice of shoe colour and it’s unlikely to to have any major negative impact on your life. Unless, that is, that you had a ‘boss’ who had the same belief and who fired you from your job for making this sartorial error. In which case, you have some real evidence to support this belief!
There are Three CORE Limiting Beliefs
Whilst the vast majority of limiting beliefs have very little day-to-day impact, the Thrive Programme specifically draws attention to THREE ‘core’ such beliefs that have the most SIGNIFICANT impact.
- Your ‘Locus of Control‘ – whether you believe that life is what you make it or whether life is something that’s happening to me.
- Social Pressure – how much you worry about what your peers think of you in social environments
- Self-Esteem – how you think about yourself and your abilities
Identifying & Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
The major paradox of limiting beliefs is that it’s very hard to know that you have them because, on the whole, we develop these types of beliefs because we perceive that we get a benefit from them!
Given that this is the case the most effective way of dealing with them is to seek help from a person trained in identifying them and then helping you to develop the appropriate tools to start changing them.
This is exactly what we do in the Thrive Programme.
If you’d like to change YOUR limiting beliefs why not arrange to come along for a FREE initial consultation with Paul to find out more.