After my Dad died, it hit me how life was short and I shouldn’t let anything stop me from living my dreams. My Dad had retired at 55 and spent the next 12 years of his life working as a walking guide across Europe. He took a chance – admittedly one with a final salary pension – and lived the rest of his days doing something he loved.
18 months have now passed and with the initial rawness of grief subsiding, I can tell my feelings of carpe diem are subsiding too. I’m slipping back into old habits of admiring people who are making exciting life changes, whilst telling myself inwardly, I could never do something like that.
Limiting beliefs are essentially negative beliefs we have about ourselves, which holds us back in some way. Our limiting beliefs can hold us back from seeing opportunities or changing from our present circumstances.
I actually only heard the phrase ‘limiting beliefs’ a few years ago and it made me realise how many times I’d held myself back because I’d decided I wasn’t good enough. I recognised there were situations I’d self-sabotaged or left unchanged all due to this narrative in my head.
One of the frustrating things about limiting beliefs is that most of the time they’re just not true. They tend to be built from events in the past, which we then use to dictate our decision-making. Our ego likes to be right and limiting beliefs in a sense protect us from stepping out and doing something new.
How often have we heard our friends use self-depreciating language and think, that is so far from reality? We’re just not so good at saying it about ourselves.
I’ve read up a lot on limiting beliefs with the aim of finding a magic wand to eliminate them. There are a lot of different approaches from therapy to understand where the beliefs started, reminding yourself of past successes and/or using affirmation cards to change neural pathways.
What I’ve found to help is to become more aware of what my limiting beliefs are and identify them in my thought processes. Every time I notice I’m telling myself, ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you don’t deserve this’, I try to look at why I’m thinking that. I find my actions change as a result.
I’m 43 years old so I’ve had a long time to build up limiting beliefs and I don’t think they will change overnight. However, becoming more aware of their existence is enabling me to consciously change old patterns and that feels like a real step in the right direction.