Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit and in doing so we impoverish our lives. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about ourselves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general. In any case, they sadly limit us.
“What limits you cripples you.” – Belinda Snyman
Limiting beliefs color our lives in a way that is only true to us. It is difficult for people to understand that the life that they perceive is only so because of their limiting beliefs. They are often so much a part of us that we don’t even realize it, in fact, asking yourself what your limiting beliefs are could be likened to the metaphor of asking a fish for a glass of water: It’s so much a part of them that they don’t see it. Why is this you may be asking, because many limiting beliefs are usually developed during childhood or adolescence, or from traumatic life experiences!
As Louise Hay puts it, “We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.”
What most people don’t realize is that the vast majority of our beliefs about the world are not really true “out there.” They are only true because we’ve decided they are, albeit we likely haven’t done so consciously. As Dr Wayne Dyer points out, “The only limits you have, are the limits you believe.”
A key way by which we form our beliefs is through our direct experiences. We act, something happens and we draw conclusions. Often such beliefs are helpful, but they can also be very limiting. Then there is also the question of whether limiting beliefs are actually good for us and whether they keep us from harm. In practice some beliefs which limit us are actually valid beliefs which are worth keeping. The problem is telling the difference. Limiting beliefs are erroneous, being based on wrong ‘facts’ and so prompt us to treat things with undue caution.
What I am saying, is don’t be too attached to your beliefs, because beliefs are just models of reality, not reality itself. The fact is, you can’t ever be certain that any of your beliefs are true. The best you can do is to strive to weed out false beliefs that hold you back, and adopt beliefs that empower you. One way of overcoming our limiting beliefs, is first to recognize them and then act to change what we believe, because the beliefs you hold to be true make up the fabric of your experience. The stronger those beliefs, the more they seem unshakeable, and the more you will find evidence to support them.
Beliefs are formed through repeated thoughts, and the only reason they hold any weight is because you’ve decided or agreed that they are true. Your life will be shaped by what you believe as Mahatma Gandhi points out, and I quote, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.”
If you’re wondering how to overcome limiting beliefs, it’s simple, and you’ve probably already taken the first step: As I said previously recognize them, gain awareness, because you can’t fix a problem you don’t know exists. After you’ve gained awareness of your limiting beliefs, you can start defying them, because what limits you cripples you, remember that!
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