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Your Limiting Beliefs Are What Keep You From the Life You Want

by Jan 4, 2024

We all operate with a set of beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

What we experience, the relationships we have with our caregivers as children, and the culture we grow up in mold our beliefs. Sometimes, our beliefs can stray far from reality and limit us in significant ways.

Limiting beliefs embed themselves in you like computer code, distorting everything you see. But with time and understanding, these codes can be rewritten. 

Here’s how to heal from limiting beliefs and start living a life beyond self-doubt and self-criticism.

Core Beliefs and Why We Cling to Them

Many of the beliefs you have about yourself in adulthood, even the ones you see as absolute fact, were most likely developed when you were very young.

Maybe a parent praised you for your intelligence, a sibling scolded you for being a scaredy cat, or the mistreatment from a caregiver caused you to believe that you were unloveable. Beliefs are as varied as any human experience.

It takes more compelling evidence to change a belief than it does to create one. So once a belief has settled into your mind, it is not easily altered.

Not only that, but it becomes our filter on the world, so much so that we pay the most attention to data that reinforces our beliefs. 

For example, if you believe you are unloveable, six instances of people showing you kindness will not register as strongly as one person treating you poorly. That single event will further confirm to you the belief that you are unloveable.

So, it is obvious that limiting beliefs can stunt your potential, damage your self-esteem, and divide you against yourself. 

So what can we do? How do we unearth, reexamine, and rewrite the story of ourselves in our minds?

A Step By Step Process For Healing Limiting Beliefs

Here’s the most important principle in understanding limiting beliefs: You can know intellectually why a belief is false, but it can still feel true to you. This can make you feel “stuck” in your own beliefs.

You know you get good grades but still feel like a bad student. You know you’re a good person, but you’re wracked with guilt over the smallest mistake. You know you have attractive qualities, but you still feel like no one wants to date you.

Determining why a belief is not true is a necessary component in picking it apart, but it’s often not enough on its own. Healing limiting beliefs is about understanding yourself on a core level and how what you’re believing is creating a web of illusions.

This is a process outlined by psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach. It is based around the principle that limiting beliefs are real but not true.

Next time you’re down on yourself or feeling hopeless, start asking yourself the following questions. With each answer comes a deeper understanding of the state you’re in.

  1. What Am I Believing Right Now?

Behind your painful feelings, what do you believe? 

Do you feel like you’re falling short? Do you feel like something is wrong with you? Do you feel deficient in some way?

Because limiting beliefs are real but not true, they create a kind of virtual reality in your perception. Freeing yourself from being caught in a belief starts with recognizing what the belief is.

So, look within and determine what you believe. Maybe there’s a deeper belief under that and another under that. Eventually, you’ll find a core belief that could be something like, “I’m just awful” or “I’m not enough.”

  1. Is It True?

This is the part where you look at the facts.

Being as objective as you can, ask yourself if your belief is as true as you feel it to be. Take stock of all the data you have. Would the evidence be enough to convince someone your belief was true if you laid it all out in front of them?

This is when you can start to separate your limiting beliefs from reality.

  1. What Is It Like to Live Inside This Belief?

Now, you investigate how believing this belief makes you feel and how it affects your life.

How much has the belief stopped you from loving yourself or reaching your potential? Does it make you feel terrible to believe this all the time? How has it affected your relationships?

You need to acknowledge the turmoil you might feel because of your limiting beliefs. Allow your feelings to be felt.

  1. What Does the Part of Me That Is Most Vulnerable Underneath This Belief Need?

The part of you that’s hurting or angry or depressed, what does it need most?

Does it need your compassion? Does it need to be understood? Does it need to be told that it doesn’t have to put this much effort in? Does it need to be free?

This is the stage where you start building self-compassion. You determine what you need most and address it instead of pushing it aside in favor of your limiting belief.

  1. What Would My Life Be Like if I Wasn’t Believing This?

Now, you can look to the future and imagine a life where you don’t have this belief.

Would you be happier? Would you let yourself be happier? Would you be more successful? Would you find a new romantic partner?

A deeper question might be, “Who would I be if I didn’t believe this?”

Could you help the world? Could you be who you always imagined yourself to be? Could you finally reach your potential?

The Plan Going Forward

This process will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and allow you to see through your limiting beliefs so that they can begin to fall away and get replaced with new ones.

But it could take time. You still might have moments where you react through your limiting beliefs and will have to repeat multiple rounds of this process. Don’t feel like you’re “failing” at dissolving your limiting beliefs if you have to keep examining them.

There is no failure. There is only deepening your self-understanding whenever you feel like your beliefs are affecting you in a negative way. New beliefs will grow organically from this process.

You can also examine beliefs that limit you even when they don’t come up organically. You don’t have to wait until you start feeling bad to challenge a deeply held belief.

Remember: It’s not about clinging to, controlling, or analyzing new or old beliefs. It’s about understanding and feeling. From there, empowering beliefs will follow.