This week let’s focus on a pesky, insidious thing called limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs are pernicious because often we are either unaware of them or are so used to them that we no longer take heed. They’ve become a part of our default mindset and make up the tacit assumptions we make about ourselves, the world and our place in it, and inform our decisions to act… or not. A limiting belief might mask a fear, reinforce a value that no longer serves us, or keep us safe and comfortable. In my experience, they are usually the symptom of something else, rather than the issue itself.
Yes, limiting beliefs are familiar, comfortable, and keep us safe, but they also keep us stuck in inaction, unproductive habits, over-thinking, over-feeling, and dissatisfaction. It’s not that we don’t have options; it’s that our limiting beliefs become the lit-up door that attracts or distracts us from all other options.
The amazing thing about our brain is that we can outsmart the default, habit parts of it where limiting beliefs plant their roots by mindfully cultivating the focused, anti-habit parts. Thus, by quickly examining limiting beliefs to get at their root causes, we can intellectually engage our brain to light up other options that help us arrive at clarity and focus on a decision.
Because limiting beliefs hold at their core the key to getting yourself engaged in a new behavior, it is worth the time to identify the root cause. The most expedient way I know to do this is to use the 5 Why problem-solving method. Although this doesn’t always work to get to the core of a limiting belief, it works often enough that it’s worth a try.
Using the steps below, walk yourself through the activity. Take the time to write out your responses rather than simply thinking in through. There is something powerful and effective about writing out your thoughts that helps them (and you) crystalize .
Think of a limiting belief about yourself and write it out in a clear statement.
Why do you believe this?
*A word of caution about this first answer: It is easy to use unproductive, negative self-talk in this initial response. Though that may be the answer that comes to mind, it won’t leave room for further exploration. Yes, be honest with yourself but more importantly do your best to keep your answers productive.
The goal here is to be truthful with yourself while offering productive responses that help you identify where to focus your attention. Usually by the 5th time you’ve asked why you should have in sight the real issue, behavior, or belief to begin to address.
Once you’ve focused on the root issue, the next thing is to identify a first step and to act upon it.
Easier said than done? Maybe. Or maybe that’s a limiting belief.
If you’re ready to do what you know, check out this inspiring video with Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage. The truth is we over-complicate and over-think the simple, small stuff that can and will lead to significant things.
Check out my feed on Instagram @plenumcoaching for quotes, affirmations, and journal prompts.
Want to discover how you can cultivate yourself self and your relationships by getting clear on your thinking, values, beliefs, and goals so that you can commit to meaningful actions that move you toward where and who you want to be? Well, you’re in the right place because as a coach, that’s what I do!
Visit my Let’s Get Started page to learn more about coaching and schedule our first session together.
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