The Five Limiting Beliefs that Hinder Your Success... and How to Overcome Them
By Jay Arthur
How many times have you gotten into a tough situation and done something "dumb"? Perhaps you even said to yourself, "Boy…I'll never do that again." But then the next time you were in a similar situation, you did the same "dumb" thing again. That's a limiting belief.
Or how many times have you heard yourself say (to yourself or others), "I'm not good with money," "I'll never get the job I want," "No one will ever want to be in a long-term relationship with me," "I always screw things up," or any sort of negative message? Those are limiting beliefs.
Most people have a limiting belief or two that slows or even halts their success. Unfortunately, the majority of people don't know they have limiting beliefs. As such, they go along day after day doing and saying the same things over and over, all the while wondering why they never reach their goals.
The good news is that you can change your limiting beliefs. Yes, it will take some careful thought and work on your part, but achieving your life's purpose and dreams is within your reach. You simply have to listen to what you're telling yourself and recognize the situations you continually find yourself in.
The following strategies will help you identify your limiting beliefs and turn them around for good.
1. Recognize the most common limiting belief phrase.
Limiting beliefs almost always begin with "I can't because…" (Example: "I can't find a good job because I never went to college.") As soon as you say the word "because" you invoke a part of your brain that believes, "I have a reason." That's when you simply stop trying. So as long as you tell yourself that you can't do something because…, you never will.
2. Be aware of the five common limiting beliefs.
- It's hopeless (Example: "I'll never be able to start my own business because I don't have the money to do so.") - When you think something isn't possible, you won't even try to do it.
- I'm helpless (Example: "I'll never be rich because no one ever showed me how to manage money.") - When you don't know how to do something or think a goal is too big, you start to feel helpless to your situation. As such, the weight of the goal or the steps involved seem too difficult, and you give up.
- It's useless (Example: "I shouldn't even bother going back to school because I won't make much more money with a degree than I do now.") - If something doesn't seem desirable, you may view it as useless. But most events have both a short-term and long-term result. Only focusing on short-term results could cause you to miss an opportunity.
- I'm blameless (Example: "I can't get a better job because the economy is so bad.") - Blaming external events or situations is the easy and lazy way out. Interestingly though, once the current external event is over (such as the economy gets better), you quickly find something else to blame for your situation.
- I'm worthless (Example: I don't deserve the job I really want because I'm not smart enough.") Feeling worthless and undeserving puts the blinders on you. You fail to notice what you're good at and consequently think you're worthless.
3. Question your beliefs.
Whatever your belief is or which phrase you're using, question it. For example:
- If you believe "It's hopeless," ask "How is it possible?"
- If you believe "I'm helpless," ask "What do I already know about it?"
- If you believe "It's useless," ask "How is it desirable?"
- If you believe "I'm blameless," ask "How am I responsible?"
- If you believe "I'm worthless," ask "How do I deserve it?"
Since you likely see others living the life you want and achieving the things you desire, you know that your goals are possible. Analyze what these role models do and copy them so you can make progress in changing your limiting beliefs.
4. Test your new thinking.
Finally, take whatever belief you have and completely turn it around and test it. For example, suppose your limiting belief is "I can't get the job I want because I never went to college." You would test that by asking yourself, "How would not going to college make it even easier to get the job I want?" or "How would going to college make it difficult to get the job I want?" You may realize that many people never graduated from college but they're worth millions or even billions of dollars and are passionate about their careers. If they didn't graduate from college, how is it possible for them to get the job they wanted? Sometimes college makes you too stiff and rigid, and you can't think broadly enough to get a better job or start your own company. So in some respects, going to college may be a hindrance, and someone who didn't go to college has more creativity and is better able to take risks.
The key is to change your thought process and thereby your belief about a particular situation. When you open your mind to new possibilities for your situation, what seemed like a dismal circumstance can instantly transform into endless opportunity.
A New Belief - A New You
The goal of these three steps is to get your brain to notice your limiting beliefs and to see the other side of the beliefs. As you go through the process, writing everything on paper will help you better formulate your thoughts so you can pinpoint specific limiting beliefs and develop questions and answers to reverse them. Often, just knowing your limiting beliefs and acknowledging the possibilities that exist within them is enough to change your thought process. Other times, you need to refer to your written answers often to keep your new beliefs on track.
The bottom line is that when you rid yourself of limiting beliefs, anything you want in life becomes possible. So take the time to complete these steps today. By doing so, you'll be able to attain all your personal and professional goals.
About the Author
Jay Arthur, the KnowWare Man, is author of "Double Your Profits: Plug theLeaks in Your Cash Flow." He has spent the last 20 years helping companies maximize revenue through the "Lean Six Sigma Simplified System," a collection of audio, video, books and software. Jay is also the author of "Lean Six Sigma Demystified" and created the "QI Macros SPC Software" for Excel.