What are limited beliefs?
Limited beliefs, also known as self-limiting beliefs, are negative or restrictive beliefs that individuals hold about themselves, others, or the world around them. These beliefs often hinder personal growth, self-confidence, and the ability to reach one’s full potential. They can create barriers and hold people back from pursuing their goals and aspirations.
Belief systems are formed at an early age (usually before 10 years old – identified as core beliefs) from experience and acquired knowledge. They help you make sense of your everyday reality by organising, understanding, and categorising events that take place in the world. They also help you to decide what is true or false and right or wrong. Religion is an example of a belief system. Because everyone’s childhood experiences vary and children have varying needs and are raised differently in different countries throughout the world, belief systems between individuals differ.
Our beliefs can guide and influence our thinking which can impact our behaviour. Core beliefs are deeply held assumptions and judgements that we hold about ourselves, the world, and other people. Positive core beliefs can form the basis of our self-worth, but many beliefs can be very negative and the root cause of many of our problems because they limit our happiness, determine our expectations and how successful we may become, influence our thinking, shape our reality and affect our behaviour
Some examples of common limited beliefs would include:
I’m not good enough: Believing that you are inherently inadequate, unworthy, or lacking in some way, can impact self-esteem and prevent you from pursuing opportunities or taking risks.
I can’t: Having a belief that you are incapable of achieving something or that certain goals are beyond your reach can lead to a fear of failure and avoidance of challenges.
It’s too late: Believing that opportunities have passed or that it is too late to change or start something new, can limit personal and professional growth.
Money is scarce: Believing that money is scarce or that there will never be enough, can lead to a scarcity mindset and hinder financial growth or opportunities.
I’m not deserving: Believing that you don’t deserve happiness, success, or good things in life, is often rooted in feelings of guilt or low self-worth and can lead to an unfulfilled life as you deny yourself the things you want.
So, how do limited beliefs affect my potential and happiness?
Where to start, I hear you cry!
Limited beliefs can instil a fear of failure and a reluctance to take risks, which in turn can limit the exploration of new possibilities. Limited beliefs erode self-confidence and self-esteem and make people doubt their capabilities and hesitate to pursue opportunities that could be so rewarding. The narrow perspective that limited beliefs create can restrict your ability to see opportunities, creative solutions, and alternative paths to success, thus limiting potential.
Very often limited beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies as actions, attitudes and choices align with those beliefs, reinforcing the limited potential and hindering progress.
Believing that one’s efforts will not yield desired outcomes or that success is unattainable can diminish motivation and effort and can deter people from stepping out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks. Without taking risks, individuals may miss out on valuable learning experiences, personal growth, and the discovery of untapped potential.
By identifying and reframing these beliefs, individuals can develop a more positive and empowering mindset that fosters growth, resilience, and the pursuit of their goals.
Don’t let limited beliefs rule your world. Overcoming them is crucial for unlocking your full potential. If you challenge and reframe these beliefs, a whole new world could open up for you along with the opportunity to build self-confidence and embrace new opportunities. Techniques such as self-reflection, cognitive restructuring, positive affirmations, seeking support from others, and working with a therapist or coach can be helpful in identifying and addressing limited beliefs, paving the way for personal growth and the realisation of untapped potential, so in midlife you can become the person you’ve always wanted to be.