Self-Limiting Beliefs

Some of the beliefs that we acquire aren’t really true at all, but we treat them as if they are. Unleash your full leadership potential when you free yourself from these self-limiting beliefs.  

Your beliefs will determine your action.  For instance, if you believe that giving is better than receiving, you might become more generous. How you act will also reveal your beliefs; what you do says more about what you believe than what you say. This is why what you feed your mind is important. Your repeated thoughts become agreements and decisions of what is true; they become your beliefs. And these beliefs will determine the course of everyday actions (and inactions), which in sum, become your life.

What’s a self-limiting belief?

There are beneficial and good beliefs. But there are those that cripple your capacity for a joyful life. These are what we call self-limiting beliefs, which can be conscious or unconscious. In the context of leadership, these beliefs hinder your success, negatively affect others, and prevent organizational growth.

Common self-limiting beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs may be ingrained in you since childhood. Or you may have picked them up through experience. Jonathan Mead from Paid to Exist cites some examples of the most common ones:

  • the feeling of not being enough
  • the feeling of not having enough
  • having to work hard for money
  • not deserving success

If you found yourself agreeing with one or many of these statements, congratulations. By identifying your self-limiting beliefs, you’ve at least gone through the first step of changing them.

What you can do about them

After identifying your limiting belief (you may need the outside help of a life coach or counselor to do this), here are some steps you can take:

  1. Accept that these beliefs are not hard, fixed truths. If your beliefs are hindering your progress and producing negative behavior and relationships, it may be time to let them go.  You may need to ask for a huge dose of humility to accept this.
  2. Recalibrate your thinking. It’s hard to let go of deeply ingrained beliefs that you’ve identified with.  Renew your mind by listening to and reading empowering material. In the blogosphere, Jeff Goins and Chris Guillebeau are two of the most inspirational. If you’re craving for a book, John Maxwell is a great start for leaders. You may also need to choose the people you hang out with the most more carefully.
  3. Try on a different belief and take action. Dr. Matthew James writes in Psychology Today that you go beyond saying your new belief – you have to step into it and feel how it feels. Saying things won’t make them magically become real. Slowly taking action will help you acquire new habits and ways of thinking.

Attempting to move forward when you have backward thinking is impossible. Think of self-limiting beliefs as huge roadblocks that make you think you’ve reached a dead-end when in reality, you still have a long way ahead that may lead to different exciting possibilities.