5 Simple Steps to Stopping Limiting Beliefs in Their Tracks by Tamarisk Saunders-Davies, MBACP
Call them gremlins, the inner critic, the devil on your shoulder, negative thoughts, mindsets, excuses, self talk, psychological blocks, obstacles — it’s all about the programming you have in your subconscious mind that stops you from getting what you want and getting to where you want to go.
Frequently, limiting beliefs are tied to your self-esteem or how you see yourself in the world and how you relate to it. And, yes, they are destructive, stressful and they hold you back, keeping you playing small.
I see all sorts of limiting beliefs every day in my office but whatever disguise they’re wearing, they tend to fall into one of these 10 categories:
1. Fear of your greatness
2. Fear of not being (good) enough
3. Fear of not being loved
4. Fear of rejection
5. Fear of failure
6. Fear of success
7. I don’t deserve/I am not worthy of success
8. Rich people are … (mean, rude, cruel, snobby….insert the word of your choice here)
9. I have layers of deep-rooted “stuff” or “issues” that hold me back
10. I have to work long and hard for my money
Your limiting beliefs usually have their roots in childhood. For example; maybe you were told that “big boys don’t cry” or “it’s not polite for girls to get angry”. They might have be more recent than that – fill in this blank for a really unhelpful limiting belief:
A good man is _________________
I bet you immediately thought “hard to find” right?
These kinds of beliefs get formed as facts in your subconscious mind and no matter how much you may consciously want the opposite (to express your anger in a healthy way, to cry, to believe that good men are everywhere), you will continually subconsciously sabotage yourself unless you get around to consciously addressing what’s holding you back.
Why? Because subconsciously you buy into that limiting belief, you give it currency, you don’t know how to exist in the opposite paradigm. It feels more comfortable and seems safer to stay in the old and familiar belief system – it’s a place you know well.
Limiting beliefs act like brakes on your progress. They leave you acting forward, but believing backward. You can take all the action you want, and in the right direction too, but anytime you make progress, the limiting belief pulls you back to conform to your inner negative programming.
But, when self-limiting thoughts are starved of attention, they wither and die. Whatever you give attention to magnifies: whatever you do not attend to shrivels up and dies.
Jim Rohn has this awesome saying:
“You cannot take the mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you devastate.”
So what’s the recipe for weed killer? It’s a 5 step process using the “dream” to guide you through. And no, it’s nothing to do with being asleep! The best thing is, it works whether or not you believe in it. Just like eating healthy food and going to the gym will result in weight loss whether you believe it will or not. All you have to do is try it out. It’s worked countless times with my clients in my counselling practice.
D – Detect. Detect your negative thought or limiting belief
R – Reward. Reward yourself for picking up on it. It’s tempting to skip this step but don’t. This is training yourself to be compassionate instead of critical and that’s crucial!
E – Escape. Change the scenery, get up and walk around. If you can’t do that, do something different to what you were doing. Tie your hair back, fiddle with a pen – ANYTHING!
A – Amend. Restate that limiting or negative thought you just had into a positive one. State it in the present tense as this will really help get your sub-conscious on board
M – Magnify. Take that new, positive thought and make it bigger. Feel it, smell, it, taste it, see it!
How about an example to show you how this works? Here’s the limiting belief – “Urgh…I’m fat!”
D – Detect it. “Whoops – that’s a limiting belief right there”
R – Reward. “Well done me, I’m really glad I caught that one!”
E – Escape. “I’m going to move away from the mirror, standing in front of it isn’t helping right now”
A – Amend. “I am quickly and easily reaching my goal weight”
M – Magnify. “In my mind’s eye I can see myself zipping up my brand new dress! I look and feel fabulous!”
I encourage you to try this out for yourself. Make a note of the steps and put them on a Post-It on your desk…on the mirror in the bathroom…in your wallet. Keep it handy and challenge yourself on your limiting beliefs until it becomes second nature. Clear out those mental weeds and let me know in the comments how it’s working out for you!