Our self-talk and thoughts create our reality, whether we realize it or not. We typically act from what we believe to be true and don’t always recognize what our limiting beliefs can do to our lives.
In 2005, my journey of recovery started for an eating disorder that I’d had on and off since I was 19. I was 44 at the time. I went through bulimia, exercise binging and heavily restricting for about 25 years; all in secret. I did whatever it took to maintain my size 6 body because I believed that I was less than, if I weighed more than….
My life was determined by the numbers that I believed made me valuable. The number on the scale. The number size of my clothes. The number of calories in my food. The number of times I exercised. The number of times I ate or didn’t eat. And the number of months it took me to lose the weight after each pregnancy.
Those numbers imprisoned me and affected every decision I made about my body, my health and my life. Even if I wasn’t acting out in my disease, I was reading about how to stay thin, what to eat or not eat and how to look thin when I felt fat. I lost myself, my identity and my integrity.
I hit rock bottom when what I had done to maintain my size 6 no longer worked. I weighed more than…….My life was falling apart and I was a size 12. If it wasn’t for God’s grace and my willingness to ask for help, I wouldn’t have the recovery I do now.
One of the first things that I was asked to do was to challenge my beliefs and rewrite them to ones that felt positive, empowering and true to me. And so, I did.
The ones that helped me the during the toughest times were “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; My body is a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God and I am becoming more emotionally, spiritually and physically fit every day.”
Before I knew it, I started making healthier choices for my body and my life. One day at a time. Those simple shifts in my beliefs, changed my life forever. I will be sober from my food issues 14 years in May. And I no longer determine my worth as a woman by the size of my clothes or the numbers related to food.
That’s when I really came to understand the power and damage of my limiting beliefs in my life.
What Are Self-limiting Beliefs?
Self-limiting beliefs are ideas that we believe to be true that keep us from reaching our full potential. They could be about ourselves, others or the world.
They drag you down instead of lifting you up; hold you back instead of moving you forward; dis-empower you instead of empowering you and make you feel less than instead of feeling more than enough.
They are the little voices and thoughts in your head that tell you that you can’t be, do or have something. They keep you from being your best self, reaching your goals and living the life you want to live
How Do You Know If You Have Limiting Beliefs?
I don’t want to burst your bubble, but most of us have a limiting belief or two in a least one area. If you’re experiencing any kind of struggle in your life, then it’s likely that your limiting beliefs are at work.
Think about the thoughts that automatically pop into your head when you’re ready and excited to make a change or step out in a new direction. What do the voices tell you?
Do you hold yourself back, even though you know deep in your soul it’s time to move forward? Do you long to reach your goals, realize your dreams or make a shift, but feel like something is getting in your way and blocking your path?
Welcome to the world of limiting beliefs. And you are not alone!
Through coaching and teaching, I’ve compiled a list of common limiting beliefs that my clients have shared with me and that I’ve experienced myself on my own journey. See if any of them resonate with you.
Common Limiting Beliefs That Block Your Happiness.
- I’m too old to live my dreams.
- I’m not “BLANK” enough (e.g., good, smart, thin, young, smart, rich enough).
- I should be happy and grateful with what I have, instead of wanting more.
- The situation isn’t that bad. It could be worse.
- It’s not the right time or season in my life to pursue my dreams, desires and happiness.
- I can’t start, I’m not ready.
- I don’t have what it takes.
- Getting my hopes up always leads to disappointment.
- I already have too much on my plate.
- I don’t know who I really am.
- I don’t know what I want.
- It’s selfish to put my needs before others and focus on my happiness, well-being, passions and dreams.
- I’ve tried before, and it hasn’t worked. What’s different now?
- Taking care of others is more important that taking care of me.
- I’m not worthy of “real” happiness, love, success, money, health, etc.
- Some people are just not meant to be happy, healthy, prosperous etc.
- If I pursue my own dreams, desires and success, my family will suffer.
- I don’t have enough time.
- It’s too late for me to find happiness and success.
- The “real” me is too much and it’s best to hold back.
- I should be farther along than I am.
- It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- My life is just hard and a struggle.
- I can’t do it.
- I should’ve figured this out by now
- I can’t pay my bills doing something I love. I need to be practical.
- Making enough money is hard work and isn’t supposed to be enjoyable.
- I can’t trust myself.
- I’m really broken inside.
- If I share my truth, use my voice, be authentically me; I’ll be rejected.
- I’m just not self-disciplined.
- Experts know more about what’s best for me than I do.
- There must be something wrong with me.
- I’m great at surviving and managing my life, that’s good enough for now.
- Happiness will come when my circumstances change.
How Do You Transform Your Limiting Beliefs?
It starts with awareness. Remember, beliefs are not facts. They are just opinions based on your past experiences and perceptions of the world.
Here are five steps to help you start transforming your self-limiting beliefs into empowering ones.
Step # 1: Identify your limiting beliefs.
To challenge and overcome your limiting beliefs, you need to know what they are. Think of all the negative, self-doubting thoughts that chatter in the background of your mind and write them down. Those would be your limiting beliefs.
Step # 2: Challenge the truth of each of your beliefs.
For each statement you wrote, ask yourself the following questions. Do I believe this to be true? Why or why not? Is there evidence to support my belief? Have there been exceptions in the past to my beliefs? Are my beliefs always true? Write your answers down and evaluate their validity.
Step # 3: Replace the self-doubting thoughts.
Now that you’ve identified and challenged your limiting beliefs, it is time to work on replacing them. What new thoughts can you focus on that are factually based and not self-limiting? Counter each negative statement with a new empowering one that’s aligned with your goals, vision and life that you want to create. Write them down.
Step # 4: Create a cheat sheet.
Keep your new empowering statements nearby. It’s so easy to slip back into our old patterns of thinking, especially on those tough days. Write them in a notebook that you can carry in your purse or keep in your desk. Write them on post-it notes and attach them to your mirror at home. Write them in your phone, so they are easy to find when self-doubt begins to creep in again.
Step # 5: Take a different action.
Act as if your new belief is true. Decide what you are going to do next to make your new beliefs true for you. What small step you can take each day to solidify your new belief and live aligned with that truth? The more you practice living it, the easier it will become.
Some Final Thoughts…………..
Yes, limiting beliefs are real and can prevent you from thriving in your life. However, they can be transformed and diffused with the right strategies, support and practice.
The five steps above are only a starting point. They are an example of how you can challenge your beliefs, rewrite them, take new actions and start to move in the direction you want to go. Before you know it, you’ll be accomplishing your goals, realizing your dreams, and succeeding.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my journey to recovery didn’t happen overnight. The work was soul searching, deep, powerful and painful at times. Yet, it was completing liberating and joyful on the other side.
I share it only as an illustration that your beliefs can be transformed, and you can break free from their power in your life.
If you’re feeling up to it, I’d love to hear from YOU.
What self-limiting beliefs do you have and are you ready to challenge them in order to create the life you desire? Commit to trying the steps above and see what happens.
Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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