As Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can do it or not, you’re right.”
The beliefs you hold about your inability to achieve something are called limiting beliefs. We carry these thoughts around with us in our everyday lives, and they often hold us back from our real potential.
There are four main forms that these limiting beliefs can take:
- Black-and-white thinking: We see things as sitting at one end of the pendulum or the other. A precarious world of strict “goods” and strict “bads” where going a toe over the line means the difference between a success and a failure. Think: I can’t eat chocolate.
- Personalizing: Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders and your shoulders alone. Everything is about you — who you are as a person and your abilities (or lack thereof). “That person was just rude to me so it must’ve been about something I’ve done.”
- Catastrophizing: One bad event happens and all of a sudden the world has gone to pieces and there is absolutely no remedying it. For example, you blow your calorie budget one day and think “all my progress is gone.”
- Generalizing: Taking something that goes wrong and applying that to all situations. You had one bad experience with a piece of asparagus and you will now not go near another vegetable.
Hands going up? Ours do to. Along the way we’ve all had negative experiences, and when something unfortunate happens, we figure out ways to deal with it so we can keep moving forward. Unfortunately, the ways we cope aren’t always conducive to our future success. But good news — we can turn that around.
People who succeed believe they can do it.
You’re not stuck with your limiting beliefs. You can change them into liberating truths. Here’s how:
- Identify the belief. While there are a slew of negative phrases out there, there are specific ones that we each repeat to ourselves often. Our excuses, our reasons why we can’t now or won’t try until etc. What are your limiting beliefs? Write them down. By externalizing your beliefs, you can confront them.
- Understand the beliefs. The tricky thing about limiting beliefs is that they often have a kernel of truth in them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be reframed, i.e. looked at from a perspective that allows you to grow from them instead of being held back by them. Get to the root of them, see them in all their glory, and address them. If you’re limiting belief is that you can’t lose weight because you never have before, you could reframe that to “I haven’t lost weight with the plan and mindset I’ve had in the past, but this brand new plan and new mindset can bring about different results.” Or instead of thinking “I’m too old to start playing the piano,” you could say “I am coming to the piano with a vigor and determination from all my years of being interested in playing it, that will make me an extremely devoted piano student.”
- Create new beliefs. Once you’ve taken a moment to really analyze your beliefs, channel the energy that you directed towards the negative belief into a liberating truth about the same issue. Let your obstacles become opportunities for growth. Challenge yourself. Each time you find yourself thinking about that limiting belief, combat it with your liberating truth.
Start to notice those old beliefs when they come up, and reframe them when they do. You can be successful in any goal you set, as long as you truly believe you can be.
Author: Jade Kedrick