Are your limiting beliefs holding you back?

Limiting beliefs

The human brain is amazing.  It can learn languages, identify symbols and make sense of them, solve mathematical and scientific problems, remember song lyrics from years ago. Truly an amazing thing to behold.  BUT it can also be highly simplistic.  Like when it fails to differentiate between fact and fiction. Between beliefs and reality. And that’s what I want to look at today.

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I’m Catrin MacDonnell and I’m a business and executive coach, working with business owners, leaders and managers in organisations, people in general who feel a bit stuck and know with the right tools and techniques, they can move forward and thrive.

Beliefs are just that – they are not facts

So back to the brain.  It doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality.  Why is this important? Well, an imagined scenario or belief, which is not at all based on any evidence can govern the choices we make, the decisions we take and how we live our lives.  If the beliefs are positive and constructive, that’s great of course, but if they’re limiting us, then we need to challenge them. Many people live their lives without ever even noticing these beliefs, running them as if they are rules to be lived by.  This is not necessarily a problem, until they hit a bump in the road.  They may be struggling to get that promotion or to make an ambition a reality and once they start looking at why, they uncover a number of beliefs that are blocking them.

Are you aware of your beliefs holding you back?

If you’re reading this, you might be thinking you have some beliefs that are holding you back from achieving what you want.  That could be a feeling of ease with relationships at work and personally, it could be a job you want, a contract you’re chasing, more sales, more money, the list goes on.  Changing your beliefs can unlock a different you who believes you can.

Let’s look at some examples to help you identify where your beliefs might be holding you back.

“That’s not for me”

One of the big ones is ‘that’s not for me’ or similar.  It’s a belief that success, happiness, doing a job you love, that pays you well or a profitable business that works for you, is something that is for others, that you don’t belong there.  That you somehow don’t deserve it because you’re not good enough, have the wrong background, connections, accent, looks, education – I could go on.  And then there’s simply an acceptance that those things will never be in your reach. If this resonates with you, then it’s time to challenge it.  Take a moment to really explore what your beliefs are here, what are they saying.  Write them down – it can help to see them written for you to realise them for the beliefs and not facts that they are.

Challenge your limiting beliefs

Then challenge each one. The “I’m not good enough” belief is hugely common, and it can mean that you shy away from trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone, asking for what you want.  Ask yourself ‘what is good enough’? What does that actually look like.  Write your answers down. If there are some concrete reasons such as not having the relevant qualifications or skills, then ask yourself how you can resolve this.  However, many beliefs around not being good enough are based on thinking everyone else is better and deserves the success. So start looking at this.  I can tell you from many coaching conversations with very successful people who have go the business / career / place at the table you’d like to have, that they got there by either believing they had the right to be there, or by acting as if they did. Many struggle with limiting beliefs just like you do but they have learned to challenge them. So have a close look at the “I’m not good enough” belief and change it to “I am as good as anyone else and I can learn to act like that”.

“That’s how I am and it can’t be changed”

Another I hear frequently is a belief based on personality traits that are accepted as set in stone and unchangeable. A belief that you are who you are and this cannot be changed.  Things like “I’m a worrier” or “I’m not confident”. Whilst these may contain some truth – you may demonstrate behaviours that prove the belief, they are not lifelong characteristics if you challenge them.  So changing your belief to “I was a worrier, but I learned not to be” or “I have struggled with confidence in the past, but I’m getting more confident” can completely change your outlook.  When I hear someone say “ah, but I’m not confident” I often ask “so what would you do if you were confident” or “how would things look if you weren’t a worrier”?  This can reframe the challenge and open up a new way of thinking.

“I can’t do this”

The belief “ I can’t do this” can put a hard stop on any ambitions or dreams. I urge you to challenge this.  Adding a simple YET at the end of this sentence can change so much (this comes from the work of Carole Dweck, who introduced the idea of growth versus fixed mindsets – search online for her or have a look on Youtube.).  Think about anything you feel you can’t do eg be confident at meetings, know how to grow your business and add YET to the end.  If you say “I’m not confident at meetings YET” it adds possibility and the idea that you can become that person who is.  And you CAN! 

Notice your limiting beliefs

It’s all about noticing the limiting belief that’s holding you back, examining it, challenging it, then taking a step forward with a desire to overcome it.  Soon that limiting belief will be replaced with an encouraging belief that will find you believing that you can do it.

Why do we have them?

Why do we have limiting beliefs? Out brains are constantly searching for patterns and rules for us to navigate life in a safe way.  We may have had a difficult experience when we were younger around speaking in class for example, or may have been told we didn’t have the voice for it.  This one off can quickly become a rule which will mean that we will avoid the pain of speaking at meetings as we associate it with that early experience or comment.  But we have to realise that something that happened in the past doesn’t have to direct us for the rest of our lives.  I can’t stress how liberating it is to challenge these beliefs and develop a mindset of “ I can overcome them.

If you want to really tackle any limiting beliefs that you have that are holding you back from what you really want to create as a life, job – what ever it is, you have to be prepared to challenge them.  It can be uncomfortable and it may be that you’ve unconsciously been using your limiting beliefs as a crutch to keep you in your comfort zone.  Stepping out can be a bit scary, but you can even challenge those beliefs to believing that by stepping out of your comfort zone, exciting things can happen.

“I’ll never change”

All of this is a piece of the whole jigsaw – of you as a whole, made up of useful and not so useful patterns and behaviours. Noticing, acknowledging and tackling your limiting beliefs will transform your outlook, bring you more confidence, more courage to try something new, to speak up, to go for what you want.  I guess the biggest one that may be holding you back from even trying is that big one “I’ll never change”.  If you’re thinking that, ask yourself where did this come from? It’s both an easy and a tough one to challenge.  Easy because it’s clearly not true for anyone.  We all change all the time and it’s just untrue that you can’t.  Tough because it can be deeply ingrained.  Because humans don’t always like change.  Change can be scary and challenging.

But it really doesn’t have to be.  Changing your belief that you can change, you can do it, you might find it exciting and you will definitely feel yourself growing and developing as a person and that new doors will open for you and you will make things happen.

So next time you think you want something but a voice in your head says it’s not for you, tune in and listen.  What is that limiting belief? And how are you going to challenge it?

If you’d like to work with me to find ways of addressing the things that hold you back, get in touch for a chat.