The beliefs you hold to be true make up the fabric of your experience. The stronger those beliefs, the more they seemunshakeable, and the more you will find evidence to support them.
What most people don’t realize is that the vast majority of our beliefs about the world are not really true “out there.” They are only true because we’ve decided they are, albeit we likely haven’t done so consciously.
Beliefs are formed through repeated thoughts, and the only reason they hold any weight is because you’ve decided or agreed that they are true.
There are a lot of collective limiting beliefs that you’ve probably agreed to:
- Work must be a chore
- Marriage turns you into a boring old person
- Time is money
- Once you’re an adult, life is about responsibilities, not fun
- Dreams are not practical
And there are probably a lot of personally acquired limiting beliefs you’ve collected through your own unique experiences. Whatever the case, most beliefs are formed unconsciously, without our knowing about it. We didn’t necessarily decide to agree to these beliefs because we wanted to.
It’s not like one day we woke up and thought “Man, you know what would be awesome? To go out today and repeat a bunch of thoughts that are going to turn into hard and fast conclusions that will keep me from experiencing the life I want. Yeah, I think that’s what I’ll do today.”
That would obviously be ridiculous.
None of us want to keep these beliefs, but we either think:
- That’s just the way things are (everyone else agrees), or…
- It’s become such a part of my identity that it’s too hard to change now
In order to solve the first problem, we need to realize that what is often seen as “just the way things are” is, in reality, just a collective assumption. And because it’s an assumption, that means that we decided to agree to make that assumption as well, on some conscious or unconscious level.
In that case, we need to reclaim our power, and choose to stop agreeing. It can really be that simple.
When it comes to ingrained limiting beliefs, patterns, or habits, these can be a bit harder to change. Because we’re so used to them — and mostly because we identify with them — they hold a lot of weight in our experience. It can almost feel as if they’re immovable objects on our path.
Some common limiting beliefs are…
- The feeling of not being enough
- The feeling of not having enough
- Having to work hard for money
- Not deserving success
- [insert your limiting belief here]
These things can seem daunting to try to change. And even when you do make a real, consistent effort, inertia is often just too hard to overcome.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can follow in order to make the shift to new, more empowering beliefs.
- Stop identifying with the belief. Most beliefs are so difficult to change because we identify with them. They seem to be ingrained as a part of who we are. And because we identify with them, we allow ourselves to be defined by them. If you think you’re not creative, you’ll see yourself as someone who just wasn’t born with that ability. If you think you’re bad with getting things to work, you might think you’re just not a mechanical person. It’s easy to get caught up in allowing our beliefs to define us, but they don’t have to. So the first step is to stop identifying with or defining yourself based on what you believe.
- Kill your conclusions. Whatever you think you know to be certain is probably a lot more flexible than you think. What you think to be required is certain to be much more negotiable. Question all of the conclusions you have about what you think to be true, fixed or possible.
- Test your assumptions. Without pushing the boundary and testing your assumptions, it’s impossible to move past your limiting beliefs. You need to do something to break the pattern of your limiting belief. Questioning is the first step, but if you only do that, the possibilities of moving to a more empowering perspective stay in your head. Some type of action must be taken that puts your conclusions to the test. Just make sure that you’re not staying in the limited head-space that leads you to reinforce what you already hold to be true. Suspend your judgment and take some kind of action to test your assumptions.
It might seem simple, but these are the basic steps to moving past any limiting belief.
They’re only part of it, though. In order to really integrate a new, more empowering belief, you’ll need to spend time cultivating it. And it can help to go through a structured process to dissolve the limit.
I’ve developed a technique that helps you rip a hole in the fabric of your limiting beliefs so you can begin unraveling the limit. Once it has dissolved, you can transform it into a powerful, self-enhancing belief.
You can download this free tool to help you overcome your limiting beliefs here.
It’s called The Limit Erasing Technique. Magic wand not included. :)
If you think you could use some help moving past a belief that’s been keeping you from getting the results you want, then this will definitely help.
It’s time to say goodbye. Go here if you want to break your limits.
photo courtesy of Michael Sarver
Eduard @ People Skills Decoded says
Well, you know we’re on the same page Jonathan ;)
One of my favorite type of moments is what I call “aha moments”. It’s when a person realizes something which she believed to be true for years and influenced all her life is actually an unproved presupposition. These kinds of moments are some of the cool things which can happen when you are willing to question your assumptions.
I would add to also focus on tasks that actually result in forward progress.
Doing something you know you should be doing even when you don’t feel like doing it is critical. It is easy to just say I will focus on this later, then never do.
I think it is possible for us to realise that we participate in creating our experience. Once we realise this we can begin exploring what happens when we do different things.
We may find in the process that we have unmet needs or unhelpful assumptions. We may discover that we are more powerful than we imagined as well as more fragile.
It may be that we have a live full of exploration ahead of us.
Gregg Swanson says
Really enjoy the discussion on limiting beliefs and any tools that helps in removing them. What I find interesting is that before the belief we have to make a decision to accept the belief. For instance, if someone tells you you’re not good enough, you have to decide to accept this statement which then turns into a limiting belief. So with Time Empowerment® a person goes back to the original point in which they decided to create the belief and through a process of dissociation they basically neutralize the decision, thus eliminating the belief.
One more cool tool is Byron Katie’s “The Work.” The first two questions are so great…”Is this true?” and “How can you be sure this is true?” always stops me in my tracks when investigating a limiting belief.
Great info and fantastic tool you provided as well!
moonduster (Becky) says
I am a writer who lket too long go by without writing because I didn’t think I was good enough. I’ve changed that belief and am writing again.
I thought I would always be fat because it was in my genes. I changed that already and have lost almost 140 pounds.
My most recent change is in my belief in my won drawing ability. I have always said that I have no natural talent for drawing. I still can’t seem to get past that belief so I have added the belief that, though I have no NATURAL talent for it, I can LEARN to draw well. And I’m learning.
Yes! :) Thank you!
This is a very thought-provoking article. I find that the older I get, the more beliefs that I thought were ‘true’ are not. We see it all the time. There are people out there who are shaking things up and are not settling for what is ‘true’. They are inspirational to the rest of us. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking – ‘of course, that person could do that, but *I* never could’. Why not you? I’m of the belief that if someone has figured it out, then so can anybody else. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, there are over 6 billion people on the planet and one’s circumstances are rarely unique. Other people are not letting their assumptions limit their lives, and we can all learn from that.
I think we all limit our selves in one way or another. The point is we have to identify what are limits are and create new ways to break those Nero patterns for good. Re-programming you into a new person over time because nothing is done over night.
1st timer here,
I think another point in getting away from self limiting beliefs, is the people you associate with.
If I have to spend any time with a person who is always negative, I find it drains me.
Misery loves company, and people can always find something to complain about.
Stick with the winners !!
Jamie Lee Wallace says
The “belief” concept is reminiscent of that John Mayer line, “I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world / Just a lie you’ve got to rise above.”
We truly are creatures of habit who are often easily duped by our own minds. Our world is built on expectations. Sadly, many of us don’t expect much for ourselves & wind up living much smaller lives than if we could break beyond those limiting beliefs.
Thanks for sharing your 3-step plan of attack for separating ourselves from these assumptions. Great advice that should be re-read often.
Lachlan Cotter says
In that same vein, Albert Einstein said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Jamie Lee Wallace says
@Lachlan – LOVE that one. Leave it to Albert, right?
PS – Love your “Who” page on your site.
Yes -for it is “us” who perpetuate its persistence. For “whom” is this actual universe a “Reality” or an “Illusion”. The actual universe-cannot be thought about or felt about-it exists -persists and can only be apprehended sensately with a flesh and blood bodied organism emanating with awareness -sans an identity ( a psychological entity ) obscuring that actuality.
Lachlan Cotter says
Hi Jonathan. I like your insight about killing your conclusions. The essence of that, to me, is about stopping doubtful thought in its tracks. So often when you’re aspiring to a new dream, or a new idea the initial thought is one of hope, but the hope is quickly overtaken by doubtful reactions and questioning. “I don’t have the right experience, resources, talents, connections etc.” Basically justifying inaction and helplessness. Changing a belief can be as simple as turning off that doubtful voice, and holding resolute and unwavering to the thought of inspiration. Only as easy or hard as you think.
Love your work. Thanks!
Percival J. Meris says
Sometimes, we do not know we possess those limiting beliefs.
One way, perhaps, we can discover them is to be aware of the results of our actions and to evaluate the thoughts that prompted those actions. Those thoughts could be part of a belief system that is limiting.
As soon as we identify them, we can now apply the steps suggested in this article. Thanks for your suggestions, Jonathan.
Alex Radford says
I love you and everything, but these instructions do not eliminate beliefs, man. Everyone who wants to eliminate a belief should totally google Morty Lefkoe ASAP. He has a technique with which you can eliminate any belief in about 20 minutes.
yeah I tried that morty lefkoe method. it’s bull. it really just didn’t work. just realizing where your limiting beliefs came from (as the lefkoe method teaches) isnt enough. You need to actually deal with them and “install” new positive beliefs and keep doing that over time to overwrite the old limiting beliefs.
Alex Radford says
@DemiL DemiL, I understand where you’re coming from. If I had your same experience, I would have concluded the same. However, I feel compelled to tell you a little bit about my personal experience.
The Lefkoe method intrigued me so much, I took the official training course to learn to use it myself, and I can honestly say it absolutely works (when used correctly). I have eliminated dozens of my own beliefs and those of other people.
It’s not just about realizing where the belief came from, it’s a complete process that allows you to realize that there are many possible, equally valid points of view through which you can interpret the source of your belief. Once you really get that the belief is not THE truth, but just A truth, and that the belief never existed in the world but only in your mind, the belief disappears forever. You don’t need to reinforce anything, and you don’t need positive beliefs.
I’m guessing that, perhaps you tried the online demo and it didn’t work for you? It can happen. If that’s the case, it makes sense to conclude that the method is bull. If you’d like to try again though, I’d be glad to talk to you on Skype to eliminate any belief you want :)
@Alex Radford Thanks for the reply. The entire method you’re describing here DOES make more sense. Yes, I only tried the free online version (which, unfortunately turned me off to moving any further).
But essentially what you’re talking about in your reply is what I meant by positive beliefs…just other beliefs that are more empowering than the beliefs that are holding you back. So a different way to achieve the same thing I guess.
I’d like to skype you Alex. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
abby mathew says
i love it
Just what if you investigated each and every belief and they all came down to ONE big one-that “I” am something other than this body. If once and for all-ALL beliefs were investigated and thrown out-What would be left? A flesh and blood bodied organism sensately aware of itself and the universe (not two different things). Why replace a belief (something you feverently wish to be true) with another belief”. Remember these things called FACTS-tangible-discernible-obvious actualities . The actual world-Right before your very ears/eyes/nose and mouth and is directly apprehended with the barest of attention-something you never learned to do or will never need to practice. It is immediate -not needing any belief/feeling/thought or emotion to be sensately noticed. This actual-physical universe-arranges and rearranges itself in multiple forms-from bodies to boats-and needs no beliefs to sustain itself. I/God are ultimately beliefs and this flesh and blood body sans an identity (beliefs) can finally operate sensibly (intelligently) by utilizing the senses of the body-freed of its pyschologic entity (belief system)
Deny D. Ritz says
I’m guilty for the four example limiting beliefs you mention above: The feeling of not being enough, The feeling of not having enough, Having to work hard for money, Not deserving success.
On top of that, I add the belief of “I have to work harder than others”. I feel these beliefs prevent me from taking bigger responsibilities that can get me the big results I want. I’ll take a look at your tool kit and see how I can add it into my repertoire. Thanks!
just some questions, do you believe that we need to know WHY we believe something in order to change it? and the step about making it out of your head in the example of the wrong believe: ‘i am not good enough’ how would that practicly be? thanks a lot. im glad to read this, its a conclusion i came to too, seems like im not the only one :) but i didnt succee yet to put my ‘theory’ into practice. so im looking for like minded people who did change their lives and believes this way.
Discipline is the key to anything. The art of “making yourself do stuff”, in other words.
Great article and lots of insight! Made me want to rethink my approach with overcoming my doubts.