Today, I want to talk about limiting beliefs.
Talking to friends, family members, and online acquaintances, I’ve come to see how truly passionate most people are. People are excited to talk about their dreams, what they wish they were doing, places they wish they were living or traveling, hobbies they wish they were pursuing, and goals they wish they were achieving.
But they aren’t living these dreams. Instead, they tell me that these are the things they would be doing if they could be doing them. And, unfortunately, they can’t.
What’s holding them back?
In my opinion, it is not the long list of reasons they are clinging to which prevent them from doing what they love or chasing a certain dream. It is their limiting beliefs. It is the fact that they have decided – before even trying – that this is something they aren’t capable of.
The list goes on.
Our limiting beliefs are so ingrained in us that they can often be difficult to identify. In many cases, we began forming these opinions about ourselves at a young age, and it is really hard to change long-held opinions about who we are.
For me, it has been helpful to list the negative thoughts I often have about myself and trace them back to their origins. All too often, I am surprised by how small and insignificant of an event lead me to change the way I’d think about myself my whole life.
Maybe you really loved to draw as a kid. You told everyone you’d be an artist when you grew up and spent all your time doodling in sketchbooks and making art for your parents. Then, one day, you got a bad grade on an art assignment at school or received negative criticism in some way. Maybe someone in class made fun of your drawing. Now, you believe that you’re not good at drawing – so you don’t. And, by the time you’re an adult, you envy artists but never make any art yourself, because you aren’t good enough.
So many of my own beliefs about my talents, abilities, appearance, and even my personality came from other people or the media. School bullies, harsh teachers, and television shaped my idea of what I could and could not do.
To better understand where your own limiting beliefs lie, pay close attention to your words and your thoughts. How often do you say you “can’t” do something? What is your reasoning?
It can be helpful to imagine your ideal life. How does that life differ from the life you’re living? What is keeping you from pursuing certain things?
I know it is incredibly annoying when people say this, but you’ve got to shift your mindset from one that is negative to one that is positive.
I’m not telling you to be happy all of the time. I’m not telling you to believe in the impossible and forget that life is hard, time-consuming, and that a million things will happen to you that are out of your control.
What I’m telling you to do is this: surround yourself with people, things, and information that makes you feel good and try to get into the habit of saying more positive things about yourself than negative things.
Speaking about yourself positively is a challenge. Thinking about yourself positively is even more of a challenge. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth the effort- I promise. To this day, I am still surprised by how much my mood, attitude, and outlook on life are affected by the way I think about myself.
Don’t rule out anything as impossible. Sure, there are certain things in life we have to work with. We cannot live outside of our means or leave our families to travel the world or change our physical features and abilities. BUT, the list of what is possible is so much longer than the list of what isn’t. You can always make time. You can always keep trying. And you never know where you will be five years from now because of something you had the courage to start pursuing today.
Passion and belief in yourself can go a long way.