Our beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of are reflected in the stories we tell ourselves.

I have some ingrained limiting beliefs about myself, my life and what I am capable of that I’ve carried from childhood. My beliefs are revealed in the things I say to myself.  Here are some things I’ve said to myself at one time or another. Do any of these statements resemble anything you’ve ever told yourself?

“I am really good at this.”  “I’m not very good at that.” “If I work hard, I will earn what I want and deserve.” “I am trapped by my circumstances.”  You might find yourself blaming your children, your marriage, your success, your salary or – you fill in the blank! The subconscious mind hears all of this! If  these are your core beliefs they become your belief system. 

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

What are limiting beliefs? The stories we tell ourselves! The stories we tell ourselves are typically very old stories. They are stories created by your parents or other family members.  Some may be conclusions your colleagues came to and you accepted them as true whether or not they were true.  Some of your stories are your own interpretations of life events which may not have been true at the time or may no longer be true now.  

The power of belief is strong. We seem compelled to repeat our stories endlessly to ourselves.  It’s a quirk of human nature that may not serve us well.  Psychologists are unclear why human beings repeat stories to themselves when they no longer are useful and may even be harmful.  Perhaps we are afraid we will forget them and by forgetting them somehow lose our self-identity. Perhaps we repeat them as a mantra that is familiar and comforting when life feels stressful or overwhelming.

The Problem With The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves simply may not be true. By continuing to tell ourselves untrue stories, we unwittingly create our own limitations. We hold ourselves back from who we could become and what we could accomplish if our self-imposed limits did not exist.

Our beliefs drive our actions which ultimately become our habits. Our habits shape our sense of identity and personality.  Telling our stories reminds us of our beliefs and provides us with the guidelines we use every day to make choices about what we do, how we do it and how we feel.

Simply deciding to change what we do or how we do it doesn’t work very well according to new research in psychology. A positive attitude or positive thinking is not enough. The power of belief is strong because self belief is ingrained. Willpower alone won’t work to break old habits. Breaking habits requires something more powerful than sheer will.

To Change Your Life – Change Your Beliefs

To change your life, you must first change your beliefs. Overcoming limiting beliefs is worth the effort. Engage the power of the subconscious mind and what is a limiting factor for you can be dispelled. Confidence can take its place in your belief system.

We cling to our beliefs because it is our habit to do so.  Our habits spring from, and are deeply anchored in, our beliefs. It’s a vicious cycle of beliefs forming habits and habits reinforcing beliefs.  Changing our limiting beliefs and replacing them with empowering self beliefs is the first critical step to creating change and building the life and experiences that we desire. 

When the stories we repeat to ourselves about our abilities and possibilities contradict what is true and possible, it is time to re-evaluate them as a part of your personal development plan. Are your beliefs and stories keeping you from having the job or professional experience at this point in your life that you want?  

Discover Whether You Have Some Self Limiting Beliefs

To find out if you have some beliefs that are limiting you in your work life, for example, take this quick quiz:

  1. Do you love what you do in your job?  
  2. Do you love how you get to do your job?  
  3. Do you do your work with people you like and respect?  

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to investigate the stories and beliefs that are keeping you from exploring professional opportunities that may be the path to more satisfying and fulfilling work and a happier life.

Examples of Beliefs

Here is a list of beliefs that are some common stories and personal beliefs women are frequently heard to say.  Do any of them resonate with you?

  • I am too old . . . To try something new, to learn something new, to be hired by someone else, to start over.
  • If I make a change, I will not make enough money . . . To support my family, to fund my retirement, to live the way I want.
  • If I make a change, my life will change . . . Who I spend time with, what I do, what I talk about.
  • If I make a change, who I am will change . . . What will I say when people ask me what I do?
  • I don’t have a passion about anything.
  • I don’t know what will make me happier and feel more fulfilled.
  • There is no way to achieve the life/work balance I want with a meaningful, challenging job.

How To Stop Limiting Beliefs From Limiting You

The next time you start to repeat one of these beliefs or stories to yourself to stop yourself from following your desires or passions, try something new. You can learn how to change your beliefs by engaging the power of your subconscious mind. Take action to break the cycle of habitual limiting beliefs with these three steps.

     1.  Uncover Your Underlying Self Beliefs  

First, take a deep dive into your story to uncover the underlying belief.  Discern what is anchoring you to this old story.  Then, ask some analytical questions. Is this anchor still true?  Can you find any evidence in the broader world that a different belief or story is possible?  For example, if you grew up with the story ‘the harder you work the better’, look to your life to see if there are times when not working so hard actually worked out better.

     2.  Discover What You Must Believe To Create The Life You Want

Dream a new story about a change in your life you would love to have happen. Discover what you would need to believe to create it.  For example, if you dream of a better life/work balance, what must you believe about your value? What must you believe about your ability to set boundaries with others, as well as yourself, to make that dream possible?

     3.  Know That Your Beliefs Are In Your Control

The most important thing for you to realize is that your beliefs are in your control, even when all of your life’s circumstances feel out of control.  And the first step toward creating the life and work that you want, that feels more satisfying and fulfilling, is to believe that you can.

Believe It To Achieve It

One of my favorite sayings is “She believed she could, so she did!” Clearly, there is ample evidence that what we believe, as reflected in the stories we repeatedly tell ourselves, has a profound impact on who are and whether we are able to make our dreams come alive.

Thinkers throughout history have taught this truth. Here are some other sayings that may inspire you.

It is what you choose to believe that makes you the person you are.  – Karen Marie Moning

Man is made by his belief.  As he believes, so he is.  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Impossible is just an opinion. – Paulo Coelho

RESOURCES:  Mary Wallace Jaensch helps women tackle self-limiting beliefs so they can create beautiful professional finales at Last Big Gig.

Are Limiting Beliefs Keeping You From Doing What You Love?

What are some things you tell yourself that might be limiting you? What could you achieve if you dispelled the limiting beliefs holding you back? Do share your thoughts below!