A self-limiting belief is a negative thought that will stop you from being your best self.
These thoughts can put boundaries on what you do in life and they can negatively affect your confidence and self-esteem.
For example, you might think you are too old to change careers. If this limiting belief starts to rule your thought processes, you are unlikely to move jobs. As a consequence, you might stick with a job you hate and then experience a drop in your self-esteem if you don’t think you are moving on in your life.
We list other self-limiting beliefs below. Take a look and if they relate to you, kick them into touch by changing your mindset.
#1: I’m not attractive
Most of us have issues with our appearance, be that because of unwanted hairs, acne, body weight, and other factors that we think inhibit our attractiveness.
When we think we’re not attractive, we can unflatteringly compare ourselves to others. We can rule ourselves out of the dating game and assume people won’t like us because of the way we look.
But here’s the thing: Nobody’s perfect! Even the models we see online or on magazine pages have flaws but we don’t see them because blemishes have been air-brushed out and makeup technicians have worked their magic on their bodies and faces.
As such, you shouldn’t assume that you’re imperfect just because other people might look prettier than you. In some cases, they might be naturally more attractive. But that doesn’t mean you’re not as good as them or that there is nothing about you that will be attractive to others.
In most cases, we can take steps to improve our appearance. We can undergo laser hair removal, go on a diet, and use skincare lotions. We can also dress attractively and use makeup to bring attention to our best features.
But sometimes, we don’t need to improve our appearance at all. Some people look at themselves unfairly and hate the way they look, even though other people are unlikely to have the same criticisms. There is a medical name for this – body dysmorphic disorder. If this is a condition that you can relate to, we advise you to speak to a mental health professional.
Takeaway: Don’t tell yourself you’re not attractive! Take steps to improve your appearance if you need to but don’t assume other people will judge you because of the way you look. Even if you aren’t the best-looking person in town, your personality might still be enough to win people over to your side.
And remember to focus on your best features instead of those that you don’t like. You’re not perfect – nobody is – but it’s better (and healthier) to dwell on the positive parts of your appearance rather than think negatively about the aspects you don’t like.
#2: I’m not good at…
We aren’t all good at everything and that’s fine. But if this self-limiting belief relates to you and it’s impacting your life, then you need to take steps to overcome it.
So, you might tell yourself that you’re not good at handling money. Or that you’re not good at holding down a relationship. You might also tell yourself you’re not good at certain job skills, such as leading a team or writing reports.
If you continually tell yourself you’re not good at something, you might never improve.
Using the examples we have given, you might resign yourself to a debt-filled life if you don’t get on top of your finances. You might withdraw from people who might take a romantic interest in you if you don’t think you’re good at relationships. And you might rule yourself out of a promotion or a new career if you lack certain skills.
As you’ll understand, none of these situations are ideal.
Sometimes, we think you aren’t good at something because we have experienced failure in the past. Or we can be unconfident in our abilities because we haven’t tried something before. It can also be the case that we genuinely aren’t good at something. But whatever the case, there is still the possibility that we could improve if we escaped our limiting mindset.
If this point relates to you, add the word ‘yet’ to the end of your belief. So, you might tell yourself “I’m not good at managing a team…yet” This is a far more optimistic statement than what you might have told yourself before.
Takeaway: If you come to terms with the fact that you can improve, you will be more inclined to do whatever it takes to get better at whatever it is you think you aren’t good at.
#3: I don’t have time
If you have a busy lifestyle, there are some things that you might not have a lot of time for.
You might be too busy to…
- Have a social life
- Look for another job
- Eat healthily
- Go on vacation
Or you might be too busy for something else that could positively benefit your life.
On the other hand, you might not be too busy at all. This may be an excuse you once told yourself and it has now become a permanent fixture of your mindset.
But whatever the case, it’s still important to make time for the things that will make you feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. If you don’t, there may be a day when you look back on your life with regrets, especially if you have filled your time with things that don’t add value to your existence.
So, consider your life as it stands at the moment.
- Is there any way you could make it less busy?
- Could you reduce your workload?
- Could you delegate to others?
- Could you stop doing certain things that are making you so busy?
- Are there any areas in your life where time is being wasted?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, find ways to add more hours to your life.
When you have carved out a bit more time in your schedule, do the things that you keep putting off. Hopefully, you will start to see improvements in your life as a consequence.
Takeaway: Never be too busy for the important things in life. Sometimes, you need to be proactive about making more time for the things that will benefit you, so if there are areas in your life that have been overlooked recently, make changes in your daily/weekly calendar so you can accommodate them.
What are your self-limiting beliefs?
We have only listed three self-limiting beliefs but we could have listed many others.
Think about your self-limiting beliefs and regardless of whether or not we have touched on them in this article, ask yourself these questions:
- What if my belief is wrong?
- What evidence do I have to support my beliefs?
- How is this belief impacting my life?
- What is the alternative version of my belief?
These questions will help you reflect on where your life is at the moment. They will make you challenge incorrect assumptions. And they might give you the driving force to make changes in your life and overcome negative thinking with positive thinking.
Sometimes, other people limit our opportunities in life. But quite often, we are our own worst enemies. We can stop ourselves from growing and feeling happier because of the self-limiting beliefs that we allow to rule our minds.
Today, challenge your own understanding of who you are. Consider who it is you want to be. If you realize you’re not in a happy place right now, think about the self-limiting beliefs that have led you to where you are. And when you have recognized these beliefs, do what you can to overcome them to improve your chances of a happier future.