5 steps to take control over your limiting beliefs
Unhelpful beliefs are very powerful and not only can stop us from realising our potential and achieving our goals, and shaping our decisions, but also can make us feel powerless and can be devastating to our confidence, self-esteem and state of mind. There is no one magic formula of what to do to beat your limiting beliefs as different solutions will work for different people, but there are some steps you can take to start taking control over them.
1) Recognise it
Building awareness of what your limiting beliefs are and when they creep up is a starting point. You can’t change something you are not aware of. Once you bring to the front of your mind what reoccurring thoughts are having a negative impact on you, you will most likely start catching yourself subconsciously the moment those beliefs appear. When you do, try to make a record of how often during the day you talk yourself down.
2) Strip it down
Limiting beliefs all stem from fear and are simply a mechanism to try and protect us. Even though they can be unhelpful, they often serve a higher purpose. Although we might want to let go of them, there might be a reason (we are often not aware of) that makes us hold onto them. Sometimes we hold onto them because we believe they protect us from disappointment, criticism, hurt or failure. Wanting to let go of the limiting beliefs and at the same time holding on to them can cause ambivalence, discomfort, an internal conflict and frustration, therefore it is useful to build understanding and establish the reason behind it. Take a moment and ask yourself:
What is the purpose of that belief?
What does this belief give you?
What impact letting go of this belief would have on you/your life?
Letting go of beliefs that have been with us for a long time, especially those deep rooted beliefs formed in childhood is not easy, and can take a lot of time. You can, however, learn how to manage them and use strategies to prevent them from holding you hostage.
3) What is the trigger?
So you’ve established what and why, now let’s look at when...
What is the trigger that makes your unhelpful belief pop up? Is it a thought, a person, an action, a place or something else that activates your belief? When does it usually happen? Is there a pattern or a cycle you fall into? What would be the first step you can take to change it?
4) Look for evidence
How old is your belief?
What is the evidence it is true?
What is the evidence it is not true?
Often, when we strongly believe something, we tend to look for things that confirm we are right rather than looking for things that prove us wrong. If you have been sabotaging yourself or have established a habit of looking for things that prove you right, then I encourage you to think twice as hard about as many situations and evidence that prove that you may be mistaken.
5) Reframe it
Once you find evidence that has shaken your old beliefs, create new positive beliefs in place of your old unhelpful ones. If your belief is “I am not good enough to ... (for example) get this job” you may change it with “I have a lot of skills and strengths I can offer” or “The more I learn/prepare/believe in myself, the more chance I have got to get this job” or “other people can do it, so can I”. Choose a new, personal statement that works for you. Repeat it as much as you can. If you are a frequent “talking myself down” person, then it is likely it may feel unnatural and fake to suddenly change your talk and habits (even if backed up by evidence) but in order to get results, you have to put some work in. It’s all good to have a positive statement but if you don’t do anything with it, then don’t expect great results.
It is totally natural to have beliefs that limit and work against us, but no belief has any meaning until we give it a meaning, so be mindful of not falling into the trap of creating beliefs that hinder your potential.
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I would love to hear your thoughts on or tips for taking control over unhelpful beliefs. Also, please share this blog with others who might find it beneficial.