Have you ever wondered which limiting beliefs hold you back?
In this article, I share my top list of limiting beliefs. I’ll cover the 12 most important ones and explain each of them in turn. I’ll also give you some tips, techniques and strategies to help you change them.
Some of my list of limiting beliefs are core beliefs that apply to almost all areas of life. Others are more specific to health, relationships, or money. But first, I will introduce you to 3 categories of limiting or unhelpful beliefs:
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The 3 Types of Limiting and Unhelpful Beliefs
Before getting into my limiting beliefs list, I want to cover the differences between limiting beliefs and unhelpful beliefs. Limiting beliefs are usually negative. Unhelpful beliefs are often positive or neutral, but can result in negative consequences or get you into trouble.
Both limiting and unhelpful beliefs can be about you, others or the world in general. Here are some examples.
1. Limiting beliefs about you.
These could include:
- I’m a loser.
- I’m a failure.
- I’m not liked or popular.
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m not worthy enough.
2. Limiting beliefs about others.
These could include:
- Other people are untrustworthy.
- Other people are manipulative.
- Other people are always against me.
3. Limiting beliefs about the world in general.
These might include:
- The world is too competitive.
- Too many terrible things are happening in the world.
As mentioned earlier, believing something positive can sometimes get you into trouble. It depends on whether that positive or neutral belief is helpful or unhelpful.
Here are some examples of positive beliefs that could have unhelpful or negative consequences.
1. Unhelpful beliefs about you.
Positive, but unhelpful beliefs often arise when your level of confidence is higher than your level of competence.
Imagine you are a new therapist. You’ve just completed your training. You’re excited and super confident that you can help anyone that comes through your door. However, you have very limited experience and your initial training is unlikely to be sufficient to help everyone.
Your high confidence encourages you to use techniques and processes that may not be appropriate for some clients. It might even make things worse!
2. Unhelpful beliefs about other people.
If you believe that everyone is trustworthy and kind, you might get walked over or ripped off. Sadly, there are people that are not trustworthy and kind. So it’s important to accept this and develop beliefs that reflect the reality of life.
3. Unhelpful beliefs about the world.
This is believing that the world is perfect, that everything is fine and will work out okay. If everyone held this belief, we would ignore the world’s problems and take no action to solve them. I personally believe that this would have devastating consequences!
So, you can see that even positive beliefs can be unhelpful and cause harm. So besides watching out for limiting beliefs, keep a look-out for unhelpful beliefs too.
The Top 12 Limiting Beliefs
I will now share my list of 12 limiting beliefs that hold most people back.
1. It’s hard to change.
I see this all the time in the personal development world. Maybe you know someone that reads loads of self-help books, attends lots of seminars. Someone that is a “seminar junky”, that has invested a small fortune in personal development, but has little or nothing to show for it. Nothing has changed in their life or about them as a person.
So why is this? It’s because they have a core belief along the lines of “It’s hard to change” or “I can’t change”. Therefore, they take little or no action. They don’t consistently apply what they’ve learned. They get fired up with brilliant ideas, but after that, nothing changes.
Many years ago, I was a member of a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) group in London. I saw many people there that embodied all the principles, changed as a person, and changed their lives. But I also saw other people that didn’t change. I asked myself, “Why is that?” Well, I now know that it’s because of having a core belief that it’s hard to change.
This limiting belief also manifests itself in business. I reckon it’s the reason people stay in the same career for many years. Or why a business stays static and doesn’t grow. It’s that unconscious core belief that it’s too hard to change.
It also applies to health. Perhaps you know someone that is overweight or has a chronic health condition that’s been going on for years. It’s because they believe they can’t change it or that it’s too hard or painful to change. As a result, the person takes little or no action.
What’s the solution? It’s simple! Take lots of action, even if you don’t believe it will help. Things change when you take action! They have to. Sometimes it can take a while, but they will change.
Seeing positive changes from taking action will increase the belief that you can change. You’ll realize it’s easier than you thought. This creates a virtuous circle where you see change happening, which increases your belief and this fuels greater action.
2. I don’t have enough …..
This is a very common limiting belief. Here are some examples:
- I don’t have enough time.
- I don’t have enough money.
- I don’t have enough education.
- I don’t have enough skills.
- I don’t have enough experience.
- I don’t have enough friends.
- I don’t have enough contacts.
- I don’t have enough connections.
I wonder which of these apply to you?
Let’s delve into the more common ones in greater detail.
I don’t have enough time.
We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have the same amount of time. What do you currently spend your time on? What could you do less of or stop altogether to give you more time for those important life-changing activities?
I don’t have enough money.
Identify how you currently spend money. Where does it go? Are there ways to save money, so you can put it towards something that’s important to you? Sometimes, it can take time to save money, but with strong intention and focus, you can do it.
I don’t have enough education, skills, or experience.
The best way to banish these limiting beliefs is to disprove them! That’s what I did. Back in the year 2000, I changed my career and became an IT Trainer. I decided to apply for IT training jobs for 3 months even though I had no relevant skills or experience. I had some public speaking skills, but nothing in the technology area.
I applied for many jobs. After 6 weeks, I got a marvellous job as an IT trainer in a law firm. If I hadn’t landed an IT training job within 3 months, then I would have obtained a qualification. However, I didn’t want to invest the time or money in a qualification if I could avoid it!
If you believe that you don’t have enough skills or experience, give yourself 3 months to prove yourself wrong. Only after that time, invest in gaining qualifications or additional skills and experience. You could save yourself unnecessary time and expense.
Also look for success stories. People that achieved what you desire and didn’t have the skills you believe are necessary. Look for contrary evidence. This is evidence that goes against your limiting belief and disproves it. This is an excellent way to deal with any limiting belief.
3. I am not ….. enough.
The next one on my list of limiting beliefs is similar to the previous one. However, it’s not about the lack of external things like time, money or qualifications. Instead, it’s more about a lack of internal qualities or personality traits.
Here are some examples.
- I am not good enough.
- I am not smart enough.
- I am not intelligent enough.
A great question to ask is “How do I know?” This is a tough question to answer because, in reality, you don’t know. You don’t know that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or intelligent enough.
Think about the qualities you have. Maybe you are highly motivated, great with people or a deep thinker. Ask yourself, “What skills or qualities do I have that are important for achieving success?” This is a superb way to knock out this limiting belief.
4. I am not worth it.
This limiting belief causes issues in many areas of life. It makes it harder to ask for a pay rise or charge what you feel your services are worth. It’s behind feeling unworthy of love or to a particular person. This can negatively influence your love life.
It can lead to not being assertive. Not asking for what you want or need in life. It can cause you to procrastinate and not take action. You might avoid dating or asking for a pay rise. So, taking action is a super way to smash this limiting belief!
Another brilliant way is to write down all your strengths and the things you’re good at. Focus on what you can give to others. Remember that everyone has unique skills, qualities, and personality traits that are valuable to other people.
With this limiting belief, go back to childhood, and identify where it came from. Sometimes it comes from a childhood experience. Once you know what that is, you can reframe it and that can help you overcome this limiting belief.
5. There is never enough money.
I included this on my list of limiting beliefs as it applied to me for many years. When I was a child, my parents were both teachers. They didn’t have a lot of money and their bank account was always a little overdrawn by the end of the month. They would do extra teaching in the evenings to bring in more money.
As a child, I formed a belief that there was never enough money to go around. That continued into my student days. The first couple of years in employment were a little better. However, I was still inexperienced and on a low salary.
Many aspects of life (especially when you’re younger) can easily support a limiting belief that there’s never enough money. However, when you hold this belief, you’re unlikely to do anything to change it.
Instead, you’ll keep doing what you’re doing. You might earn more money by getting a promotion, but that’s not guaranteed. And often comes with longer hours.
Instead, be creative and look for alternative and proactive ways to become more valuable and earn more money. It comes down to mindset.
In reality, there is an abundance of money. It’s just wrongly distributed. I have some very wealthy hypnotherapy clients. I could charge them double and they would happily pay. So it’s about getting a slice of the money that they already have.
Think about how you can offer more value. Embrace the belief that there is enough money to go round. When you do that, you’ll notice different opportunities and ways to make money.
6. I will never find love.
On my list of limiting beliefs, this one was very strong in my 20s. For women, I came across as Mr. Nice Guy and was put in the “friend zone.” I found it very difficult to find a romantic partner. This is one reason I got into personal development. I wanted to improve my social confidence and be more comfortable on dates. I believed there were strategies that other people used to get the results I desired. I wanted to learn and apply these, so I could meet the right person.
The reality is that there is someone, in fact, many people, that will love you. It’s a case of becoming a better version of yourself, taking action, going on dates, and enjoying the journey. Also, letting go of feelings of frustration or desperation is also helpful. These were the things I did that helped me find my perfect partner.
7. All the good ones are taken or gay.
I have heard this one so many times, especially from women. Challenge this limiting belief by asking “How do I know that?” You’ll find this question very difficult to answer. In reality, especially if you live in a larger town or city, there are new people becoming available all the time. They either move into the area, or separate from existing relationships.
This limiting belief is an excuse to not take action. If you believe that all the good ones are taken or that no one is available, then you’re unlikely to even look for dates! It seems pointless.
The solution is to take action! Prove that this limiting belief is wrong for you. Do you see a common theme appearing here? Taking action is key to smashing many of these top limiting beliefs.
8. It’s difficult to make money doing something you love.
This can be true to a point. It often requires a lot of hard work over an extended period to make a good income doing what you love. But it’s definitely achievable. I’ll give you a few examples to expand your awareness of what is possible.
Examples of people doing what they love
A few years ago, my wife and I traveled to Darwin, the top end of Australia. We both love wildlife and wanted to go on a birding safari with a local birding expert. Someone that could find the unusual birds that would be virtually impossible for us to find ourselves in the brief time we had there. He charged $200 per person, so $400 for both of us. That’s good money for a day doing what you love. He had the expertise, provided incredible value, and we were willing to pay for that. It was worth every cent!
A train enthusiast in the UK created a website that helps people plan rail journeys around the world. He goes into incredible detail, including the exact seat number to get the best view of the scenery. On many trains, the seats don’t always line up with the windows, so this is very useful to know. He makes good money through sponsorships, advertising and perhaps some affiliate commissions when people book via his recommended websites. To check him out, go to seat61.com.
In Australia, a person who loves bushwalking, hiking and nature created a website that provides details of hundreds of different bush walks and hikes. His directions are very thorough with maps that you can print out and take with you. He also has a mobile app that you can download to find walks on the go. He makes money through sponsorship from local outdoor and hiking shops, from people purchasing the mobile app and from advertising. To see what he does, go to wildwalks.com
It’s not all good though
Even when you make good money doing something you love, there will be parts of your job or business that you don’t enjoy. If you’re a therapist, you may not enjoy marketing your services or writing up session notes. If you’re an actor, you may need to do commercials (which pay a lot better) to pay the bills and allow you to do other acting work that you love. Or accounting and bookkeeping which no one enjoys doing, except perhaps accountants! Sometimes it’s necessary to do a few things that you don’t enjoy, even when you do what you love for a living.
You want to be flexible and creative, but it’s certainly possible to make a good income doing something you love.
9. Making money is hard.
This is important on my list of limiting beliefs. It’s similar to “There is never enough money”, that I mentioned earlier and often comes from our childhood too. If your parents worked hard and long hours to make ends meet, it can reinforce the belief that making money is hard. Then in your 20s when you start working, you naturally take on the belief that making money is hard.
As a student, you won’t have much money. When you find a job, your wage will be low because you lack experience. You probably have student debt too. You may be in your early 30s before things change.
Perhaps some of your friends have become lawyers or doctors and are working incredibly long hours. It seems like everything in our culture and environment supports the belief that making money is hard.
Whilst working hard plays a part, working smart and doing the right things is more important. So how do you do that?
Understand the difference between passive and active income.
Active income is spending time to earn money. That’s an income from a typical job or a business. You put a certain amount of time in, and you get a certain amount of money back.
How do you make more money? You increase your value by getting promoted or by providing a higher quality service that allows you to charge more. The more value you provide, the more you can charge. There may still be an upper limit to what you can charge because of what people will pay.
Passive income is not directly dependent on your time. Examples include rental income from properties or income from investments. Many online businesses generate passive income because the internet is doing a lot of the work for you.
With all these passive income examples, there is still time invested in setting these up. However, the key difference is that you can take a break and the money will continue to come in.
I encourage you to find wealthy people that don’t work very hard. They definitely exist. I know some of them! Look out for contrary evidence. It’s out there! You just need to look for it.
10. I have little or no control over my health.
There is overwhelming evidence that what you eat, how much you exercise, the quantity and quality of your sleep, and how well you deal with stress can have a dramatic effect on your health. Most chronic diseases can be avoided by focusing on these 4 aspects of your health.
One reason people believe they have no control is because health changes take time. It takes several months of eating healthily and exercising regularly to notice the benefits. However, many people are inconsistent or they give up too soon, before they see any noticeable or meaningful results.
11. I am addicted to …..
Examples of this limiting belief include being addicted to a certain food, drink, drug or even a person.
Behind this limiting belief is the idea that you need a certain external thing to cope with stress, life’s problems, or pain. In reality, you are rarely addicted to something. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’re on a 12 hour flight. You’re a smoker and believe you are addicted to cigarettes. However, you know that you can’t smoke on a plane, so you don’t think about it. You forget about it. Once 12 hours has gone past, and the plane is about to land, you may think about having a smoke.
Let’s say that next to you is a heroin addict. Would that heroin addict be able to think about not having their heroin fix for 12 hours? Highly unlikely. Or what about someone with Type 1 Diabetes? Would they be able to think about not having their insulin injection for 12 hours? Probably not. These are real addictions. In most other cases, it’s just a habit that you believe is an addiction.
I also encourage you to remove your sense of identity from the habit. When you say things like, “I am an emotional eater”, or “I am an alcoholic”, you make the habit part of your identity.
Think about all the other significant things that you are. Maybe you’re a great parent, salesperson, accountant, friend, or spouse. When you notice your other identities, this habit will be a far smaller part of who you really are.
12. Only after I have ….. I’ll be happy.
This is the last one of my list of limiting beliefs. It can include things like:
- Only after I have found my soul mate, I will be happy.
- Only after I get promoted, I will be happy.
- Only after I earn a 6-figure salary, I will be happy.
The problem with this limiting belief is it prevents you from being happy right now. Remember that happiness is ultimately a feeling. Of course, finding your soul mate or earning a 6-figure salary will make you happy. However, if it becomes familiar and you take it for granted, your level of happiness will reduce over time.
This is called the Law of Familiarity. When you experience anything for enough time, it becomes familiar. You take it for granted and you appreciate it less.
So to be happy, focus on the good in your life, and don’t compare yourself with other people. Be grateful for what you already have and enjoy the small things in your relationship and in life too. Also, develop healthy habits. Eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Your body will appreciate you for that. You’ll feel better, have more energy and be naturally happier.
This was my list of 12 limiting beliefs that prevent you from living a happy and successful life. I hope you related to my examples and feel empowered to take action to smash the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.
Choose a limiting belief that is keeping you stuck, challenge it, change the meaning of it and take action to disprove it. You’ll be glad you did!
Finally, I encourage you to read my related article on how to permanently change your limiting beliefs.
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