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Overcoming limiting beliefs that are holding you back

Beliefs are powerful things.  They can limit or empower us.  The good news is that you have the ability within you to change, eliminate or create your beliefs.  A belief is an opinion about something, or how something should be.  Although we often accept many of our beliefs as fact, they really are all just self-imposed rules we live by, and do not necessarily reflect actual reality.

We have beliefs about everything – about other people, about ourselves, about relationships, about nearly everything we are aware of – if even on a subconscious level.

Some of these beliefs are more concrete than others, but all of our beliefs act as filters on our perceptions of the world around us.  They often act as self-fulfilling prophecies.

If you believe you are not good at math, you probably won’t be good at math because you will not work on getting better, or you will develop a fear that keeps you from being able to work math problems.  If you believe you aren’t likable, then you may act in ways that make people not like you.  If you will never be rich, you probably won’t take the steps you need to become rich.

These beliefs are examples of limiting beliefs.  A limiting belief is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a belief that somehow limits us, or sometimes even those around us.

One way to identify a limiting belief is to write down some of your beliefs.  Those that begin with phrases such as “I can’t…”, “I’m no good at…”, “I’ll never…”, “I haven’t got time to…”, or some other negative or limiting statement are likely limiting beliefs.

By changing or eliminating limiting beliefs, and replacing them with positive, enabling beliefs, you can kick open doors and achieve things you may have never imagined were possible.

In the same ways limiting beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies, so do enabling beliefs.

So how do you eliminate limiting beliefs and create enabling beliefs?

Overcoming limiting beliefs

Your beliefs are formed by your life’s experiences and are often formed at a very early age, sometimes even before the age of 5 or 6 years old.

Even though you form many of your beliefs at a very early age when you have limited life experiences, these beliefs may follow you through your entire life.   But they don’t have to.

The good news is that you can change your beliefs and the reality that has been created by your beliefs.  There are many ways to do this:  psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, time line therapy, hypnotherapy, and the list goes on.

Here is one way you can start challenging and changing your limiting beliefs in the comfort of your own home.

Think about a belief that you know is a limiting belief and that you would like to change or get rid of.  Really pay attention to the way that belief “feels.”  When you think about the belief, do you have a picture in mind?  Notice the details of the picture, or feelings that are associated with the limiting belief.  Is there sound?  What kind?  Is it loud or quite?  Strong or soft?  Really notice all the details.  If there is a picture how is it displayed in your mind’s eye.  Is it close or far away?  Centered or off to one side?  Is it in color or is it black and white?  Can you see yourself in it, or are you seeing it through your own eyes?  Is it a movie or is it a still frame?  Think of and try to notice all of the details.

  1. After you have really studied the details, or what we call “submodalities” of the limiting belief, go ahead and move it aside, out of your mind.
  2. Now think of a belief that you used to have, but no longer do.  In other words, think of a belief that used to be true for you, but no longer is.  Think about all of the submodalities of this belief, just as you did in the limiting belief.
  3. Once you have studied the submodalities of the belief that is no longer true for you, go ahead and move that former belief aside.
  4. Now here is the fun part!  Go ahead and bring back the original limiting belief, the one you worked with in step 1.  Now, in your mind, change the submodalities of this limiting belief to exactly match the submodalities of the belief that is no longer true for you – the belief in step 3.  Really work until the limiting belief looks, feels, smells, sounds, exactly like that belief that is no longer true.
  5. Once you have finished step 5, go ahead and remove the belief from your mind again.
  6. Now, how do you feel about that old belief?  If you no longer feel that the belief is true or valid, then the process has worked!  You just got rid of that old limiting belief!  If you still feel the old belief may be true then repeat steps 1 through 7 over again until it is gone.  Each time try to really be aware of all the submodalities involved, and ensure you are switching the submodalities of the limiting belief to those of the old belief exactly.

But we are not done, yet!  Now that you have eliminated the old limiting belief, you can replace it with a more positive enabling belief using the same method.  Here is how:

  1. Think of a belief that you feel is absolutely true.  This belief must be extremely strong for you.  For example, you may believe, without a doubt, that gravity is real.  Really make sure you absolutely, without any doubts whatsoever, know that your belief is true.
  2. Just like before, go ahead and notice all of the submodalities you can about this absolute belief.  Really get into the details.  Now remove the belief from your mind.
  3. Now think of a belief that you want to have, and that is the opposite of the original limiting belief from step 1.  Think about the submodalities of this belief, again in great detail.
  4. Now change the submodalities in the belief that you want to have to match those of the belief you know to be true – the belief in step 8.  Spend some time and really match them up until they are crystal clear in your mind.
  5. Now, how do you feel about the new belief, the one you thought of in step 10?  If you feel strongly about it, the change has worked!  If you don’t feel absolutely certain keep repeating steps 8 through 12 until you are certain the new belief is true.

This may seem like a lot of mental gymnastics – and it is!  However, it really does work.  The idea behind the process is that how we think about our beliefs – the submodalities we assign to them – matters.  By matching the submodalities of former beliefs to limiting beliefs, we actually change the way we think about the limiting beliefs.

The same is true for the new beliefs.  We can create new beliefs by making their submodalities match beliefs we already have.

A final word about beliefs

Now, it goes without saying (I hope!) that there are some things that are not influenced by our beliefs.  Gravity is a good one.  Whether or not you believe in gravity does not change the fact that it exists.

So if you believe that you cannot fly when you jump off the roof, you are probably right unless you have some kind of mechanical assistance.  This is not a limiting belief, but an actual physical reality.

What limiting beliefs are holding you back?

About the author

Chris Akins

Hi! And welcome to my website! I started ChrisAkinsdotCom in 2006 as a part of my own personal growth journey, and over the years it has certainly helped me evolve as a person, and ultimately change careers from a business executive to a mindset coach, and human behavior professional. This blog reflects many of the thoughts, insights, and strategies that have helped me make life altering changes. I hope reading ChrisAkinsdotCom will help you in some way as well!