I will always live paycheck to paycheck. I’ll never have a lot of friends. I don’t have time to go to the gym. I can’t afford to buy healthier food. I don’t deserve success. I’m not qualified to start a business. I’m just going to fail if I try. I’m just a boring person. I don’t have any unique ideas.
Yikes! How depressing. If a friend of mine confessed any of these to me, I would sit them down and try to convince them otherwise.
The thing is, these are just a handful of the limiting beliefs that I struggle with. Maybe you could relate to some of them?
Everyone has beliefs. We form them from childhood, as we take in experiences connected to our family, friends, media, faith and countless other influences. They begin as ideas, but as we get older and their roots grow deeper, these beliefs become our truth and the filter through which we interpret the world around us.
Unfortunately, many times these beliefs are false and only serve to sabotage our efforts to have a fulfilling life. They limit our belief in what is possible and what we’re capable of.
As a result, limiting beliefs can have some very serious consequences.
Limiting Beliefs Prevent You From Creating & Achieving Big Goals
I used to think I never reached most of my big goals because I was just lazy.
And the big goals I did reach? (Like, oh, getting a master’s degree, learning the guitar, running my own business, etc.) Well, anybody could do those things. And besides, I’m not an expert just because I have a master’s, and I only learned a few chords on my guitar so it’s not like I’m a musician or anything. And that business? I didn’t know what I was doing and still don’t know why anybody wanted to buy my gift baskets.
You see what I did there?
I’m a loser if I don’t reach my goals and I’m still a loser even if I do.
What the whaaa??? How messed up is that?
All of these excuses are just a cover up to that limiting belief that tells me I’m not worthy of achieving big goals. Where did that come from? Probably something crazy like not getting a lead part in The Sound of Music when I was in the 7th grade. And then not making the pom squad in high school. And then getting rejected by the one college I applied to.
None of these experiences were traumatic or devastating (I didn’t even want to go to that college, my mother made me apply!). But with each one, the belief that I was not good enough dug deeper into my subconscious.
The funny thing is, my conscious mind loves to create big goals and fully believe that I’m capable of reaching them. But that deep-seated limiting belief that I’ll never reach any of them is like a roadblock with a big sign that says “No Thru Road, Make a U-Turn Here!” Inevitably, I convince myself that the goal isn’t really that important, or it’s not so terrible if I never reach it.
Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if my limiting belief was limitless instead. Like, “I can achieve any goal I desire!” or “There is no goal too big for me to reach!”
I’ll never know (at least, not yet), but what I do know is that my life has suffered because of this limiting belief. There is a part of me that insists on believing I have what it takes to be successful at whatever I put my mind to. But the limiting belief is like a big bully that pushes any self-confidence to the ground, then sits on top of it until it just gives up.
The good news is that it’s pretty *easy* to change your limiting beliefs. After all, they’re just thoughts and nobody else has control over your brain. Thoughts are not facts, so you just have to replace a limiting belief with an empowering belief.
The bad news is that it’s not so *simple* to do this. This is due to “belief perseverance“. Once you develop a core belief, you’ll only give credit to experiences that reinforce that belief.
For example, if ten people tell you that you are a very talented artist, but a couple of people only say “you’re pretty good”, you focus on the two. It was still a compliment, but your limiting belief turns it into “you’re not that great”. This just strengthens your limiting belief, even though more people said you are very talented. Crazy, right?
It takes time, intention, and perseverance to swap out limiting beliefs for empowering ones. You’re essentially rewiring your brain, and you need to create new neural pathways that detour the old thinking patterns.
There are several methods to achieve this, but an easy one to implement is to write down some quotes that align with the empowering belief you want to adopt. Every time your limiting belief rears its ugly head, pull out your list of quotes and read over them a few times. This will help you keep the right perspective and get you back on track.
Another great idea is writing down affirmations that support your new empowering belief.
For example, instead of telling yourself “I’ll never be good enough to reach my goals”, you could repeat “I have everything I need to reach any goal I desire. With every step I take toward reaching it, I gain a little bit more of what I need to be successful.”
When you fill your mind with thoughts and ideas that support your new empowering belief, your mind begins to shift from a limiting to an empowering perspective.
Limiting Beliefs Discourage You From Seeing & Creating Opportunities
If you don’t believe you’re good enough to get a promotion, you’ll overlook the opportunities that arise.
Likewise, you won’t consider initiating a meeting with your boss to create your own opportunity to get promoted.
Limiting beliefs will keep you stuck where you’re at because you’re convinced you don’t deserve something better. You may even perhaps have co-workers or superiors that encourage you to apply for a better position because of the potential they see in you. But unless you see it and believe it for yourself, you won’t take these suggestions seriously.
I used to have a gift basket business. I loved making them, but I just couldn’t get over the impostor syndrome that hung over me like a dark cloud. I was always in fear of someone finding out I wasn’t a “real” gift basket creator – whatever that means.
Because of this I resisted going to networking events and promoting my business. Instead, I kept my client list short and limited to my church, my husband’s work, and friends. Needless to say, my business stayed small and profitless. When my daughter was born, that was my “excuse” to close up shop.
Nobody ever told me I was not a professional. In fact, most people told me they loved my gift basket creations. The only thing holding me back was what I believed about myself, and that was a lie.
Usually, success is not a result of luck or genetics or mojo. Success is a result of being prepared when the right opportunity presents itself and then going for it!
But the empowering belief that you are capable and worthy of success must come first. Once you’ve got that down, your eyes are open to all of the opportunities that are surrounding you.
Limiting Beliefs Cause You To Miss Out On Fulfilling Relationships
This is a big one I’ve struggled with my whole life. As a painfully shy and introverted young girl who went to 6 different schools by the time I reached the 8th grade, I had a hard time making and keeping friends. By my senior year, I was done with the contests and clicks of my small hometown, and ready to create a new life in the big city of Los Angeles.
What I didn’t realize was that my heart and mind had changed shape in those formative years, and I never fully recovered from feeling like I didn’t belong. As I got older, I had friends, but I only focused on the relationships where I was rejected. I only counted the experiences that confirmed I wasn’t worthy of friendship. And so, the belief grew stronger.
These days my limiting belief is disguised as contentment – I’m just a homebody who enjoys being home with her family. No need to go out and meet other people. Besides, nobody’s shown any interest in getting to know me anyway.
But I know better, and I know this limiting belief is causing me to miss out on some great friendships. Yes, it’s harder to build relationships as you get older. But it’s harder for everyone, not just me.
So why not try to make it easier for someone else? I could be the one to reach out. I could initiate the conversation. I could show an interest in starting up a new friendship.
Instead of thinking “I’m terrible at making friends”, I could tell myself “I am a great friend, and there are people out there that need my friendship.” In fact, it dawned on me one day that when I refuse to reach out, I’m depriving others of the blessing of my friendship.
Limiting beliefs tend to cause us to focus on our imperfect selves and our own shortcomings. No wonder they keep us from living our best life! Instead, we need to focus on others.
When you turn your eyes to the people around you and understand that everyone has their own struggles, connection and relationship become an extension of compassion and giving. You’re no longer afraid of being rejected; instead, your concern is for letting others know your friendship is available to them – to bless, to comfort, and to do life together.
Limiting Beliefs Entrap You In A Scarcity Mindset
I’ve written about the pitfalls of a scarcity mindset before. But for the sake of this post, I’ll review what one actually is.
A scarcity mindset is a pattern of thinking rooted in the fear that there will never be enough. It also perpetuates the belief of never being enough. This fear will lead you to make poor choices, which result in unfavorable outcomes, which completes the loop of negative thinking and keeps you stuck in a repeating pattern of bad decisions.
Some symptoms of a scarcity mindset include hoarding, complaining, black and white thinking, lack of generosity, being envious of others, and ironically, overindulging.
It’s actually harmful limiting beliefs that cause people to become enslaved to this mentality.
When your decisions are based on limiting beliefs such as “I’ll never afford the lifestyle I want” or “I don’t have the skills to make more money,” the outcomes you experience will only support these beliefs.
The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundant mindset, which is established in empowering beliefs that support a positive and confident outlook on life. Opening up your heart and mind to the realization that opportunity, success, fulfillment, and prosperity are available to you is the beginning of breaking free from the scarcity mindset.
Limiting Beliefs Keep You From Living Your Best Life
As the culmination of all of the consequences that limiting beliefs can cause, not living your best, most authentic and most fulfilling life is probably the highest cost of them all.
Limiting beliefs don’t limit themselves to one category of your life. Rather, they spread their long, spindly fingers wide enough to encompass a multitude of areas, leaving you at the mercy of their repercussions.
As you allow your goals to become merely wishful thinking, and you choose to remain in a job you’re dissatisfied in because you don’t see the opportunities to get out, your limiting beliefs continue to steal the amazing life you are totally capable of living.
You’re missing out on your best life because of thoughts that are tricksy and false!
Thank the Lord that, as human beings, we have the ability to change our thinking, our beliefs, our feelings, and our perspectives. You’ll need to be committed to rewiring your thought patterns, and it will take some time – but replacing your limiting beliefs with empowering ones will change your life for the better.
Actually, the best!
Limiting Beliefs & Money
I’m adding this part because this is a personal finance blog, and I want everything I write to help you move a little closer to your financial goals.
It is a little obvious at this point (if you read everything up until now) how limiting beliefs can keep you from achieving financial freedom. Your beliefs surrounding money will either a) empower you to create a life of wealth and prosperity, or b) enslave you to a cycle of poor financial choices and living paycheck to paycheck.
Allowing limiting beliefs to influence and guide your financial decisions can have disastrous and lifelong consequences.
But if you can identify what your limiting beliefs are, and then be purposeful about replacing them with empowering ones, you are on your way to changing your destiny, and your legacy.
I’m still working on my own, and it’s not easy. But I’m not just doing it for me. I’m also doing it for my kids, for my grandkids, for my marriage, for my friendships, for the quality of life I have left. And for my own happiness, because I’m tired of allowing faulty wiring keep me from reaching all the potential I’ve been so graciously given.
No matter your age, don’t let limiting beliefs hold you back. Do some rewiring of your own, so you can start living the life you dare to dream of.