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5 Common Limiting Beliefs

Updated: Jan 20

You know that voice in your head that always seems to be in doubt?

You know, the one that when there’s a new job opportunity it says , “Nope, not smart enough.” Or when you meet someone new it says, “They won’t be in to you.” Say hello to your limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are thoughts or opinions about ourselves, others, and the world that keep us stuck replaying old behavioral patterns and do not allow us to transform and grow.

Typically, we internalize these beliefs during early childhood by receiving overt or covert messages from family, friends, and role models (i. e. teachers, coaches, religious leaders). They can become deeply embedded in ourselves, creating a lens through which we see the world. To shift our belief system, we must first identify the ones that are keeping us stuck. To help, I’ve identified five common ones: 1. I am not good enough May sound like: “If they only knew the real me.” “Someone more qualified should have received this award.”

This belief can come from the expectation of our caregivers or role models for us to be high achievers from a young age. Maybe you were identified as a “gifted child” or perhaps you always felt like you were in the shadows of your accomplished sibling. It feels like no matter how much we accomplish, it is never enough…Almost like the bar keeps getting set higher.

How This Affects You: You may come off as “perfectionist”. You are always going above and beyond at work and struggle to have a work/life balance. Because work is a priority, other aspects of your life may suffer such as sleep, self-care, and relationships. This may leave you feeling lonely, depleted, and ultimately unfulfilled. Or perhaps, you may struggle with your confidence to try new things and may stay with jobs and experiences that feel safe to you.

This keeps you boxed in and unable to reach your full potential in life.

2. I am unlovable May sound like: “There’s no way she could really want to be in a relationship with me.” “I’m just going to mess this up.” This limiting belief can come from childhood if you were told that you were “difficult” or “unruly”. Perhaps you only received attention when you were misbehaving and ignored when you were calm. Maybe you were even told things like, “You’re too much to handle” or “You’re hard to love”. How This Affects You: Maintaining healthy relationships can be really difficult if you hold this belief. A lot of times it can feel like “the other shoe is about to drop” in a relationship, or that something bad is going to happen with your friends, family members, or partner(s). You may be afraid to show up authentically and vulnerably, afraid that you will be rejected if someone sees the “real you”. You may frequently feel anxious when meeting new people or dating.

3. I am unworthy May sound like: “I don’t deserve nice things” “I really shouldn’t have this opportunity.” This one may show up if you were compared to other siblings, or felt as if you were not receiving as much attention and/or praise as another sibling.

You could have also frequently heard that you were “ungrateful.”

It can also manifest with parents who adequately supplied physical necessities but struggled to supply emotional necessities (I.e. empathy, nurturance, understanding, comfort). How This Affects You: Having good things happen to you can feel REALLY scary.

This is because when you were younger, a gift or praise frequently came with a price. Perhaps it meant you weren’t allowed to be sad when dad was away from home or that gift would be taken away if you did something your mom did not approve of.

In present day, it can feel like receiving something nice is a kind of “trick”.

This can keep you overly critical in relationships. It can also keep you from reaching for that promotion or jumping into that business idea because it feels like you are undeserving of it.

4. I am powerless May sound like: “I can’t change this” “This is out of my control” If you lived in a chaotic household where the environment was always changing, you may have adopted this limiting belief.

Because it seemed like there was no structure or ability to control your surroundings, you may have internalized that the world is a chaotic place that is outside your control.

This may translate to your internal experiences as well.

If you were not able to build the understanding of cause and effect (i.e. if I do this, then this will happen), it may feel like you are powerless to whatever you are experiencing emotionally and physically. How This Affects You: Transitions and changes can be extremely disruptive.

It’s almost like you are walking a trail with no map, hoping you get to the end at some point. Strong emotions can also feel really scary.

Because you were unable to learn ways to calm yourself down, you may easily become overwhelmed with strong sensations and frequently lean on others to help you regulate.

5. I cannot trust anyone May sound like:“They’re just pretending to be nice.” “I’ll see their true colors one day.” If you were betrayed by a role model, caregiver, or even friend, you could have internalized the belief that you can’t trust anyone. Betrayal can range all the way from physical/emotional/sexual abuse to sharing a secret you told in confidence.

Unfortunately, you may have been unable to experience a safe and secure relationship where you could consistently trust someone had your best interest at heart.

How This Affects You: Because you did not build a blueprint of healthy relationships when you were younger, it can be difficult to know what that looks and feels like in adulthood.

This can keep you extremely boundaried in relationships.

No matter how well you get to know someone, you believe that one day that person will turn against you.

Maybe you’ve built a strong relationship with a boss but you struggle to ask for help when you need it in fear of retribution.

Or perhaps you find that its difficult to date someone for more than 6-months because deeper intimacy is too threatening. You may come off as “ultra-independent” but internally may experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. THE GOOD NEWS:

Phew, that's a lot to take in.

But wait! While limiting beliefs may have had their foundation laid in childhood, IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS.

It is possible to shift your perspective and look through a lens that may be a little more rose-colored (in the best way possible).

Congrats, identifying your limiting beliefs is the first step!

The next is to work with a professional who can help you understand how these beliefs developed, process the affiliated emotions, sensations, and stories affiliated them, and ultimately help you shift to a belief that is more expansive and compassionate.

Sound like something you’re ready for? Let’s get to work!

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