Limiting beliefs are thoughts or beliefs about ourselves, others, or the world around us that have been shaped by past experiences and events. And to be honest, they are quite frankly… the worst!
Why? Because they restrict us and stop us from making positive changes in our lives that could ultimately make us feel happier and more fulfilled. No, but that is a really huge problem, obviously.
The reason that limiting beliefs are in fact, the “worst” is because the majority of the time we don’t even know that we have them (and we all have them, trust me).
We can go about our daily lives as normal, making decision after decision and not actually realise that we are being influenced by the deep-rooted beliefs that exist in our unconscious mind.
But there is something going on behind the scenes here - a reason that these beliefs form in our minds and become stronger. Allow me to share in this post 3 things that you need to know about limiting beliefs, including why they exist and how you can start to work through them.
1. They exist to protect you from harm
Yes, really - I said harm!
OK, so thousands of years ago we may have had more obvious physical harm and the danger posed to us on a daily basis, whether that was during hunting or in battle with enemies from other territories. The fight or flight patterns were very true and as real as they could be at the time.
But, let me tell you this. Just because being bad at Maths at school (a long-term limiting belief of mine) doesn’t pose the same kind of threat as being eaten by a tiger, that doesn't mean the feeling is not valid. Or even on the same level!
If you find yourself in a position where you feel unable to live as your authentic and true self, then there can be no question of the damage this is inflicting on your everyday well-being. And limiting beliefs can put us in such positions, therefore impacting our decisions and quality of life overall.
Example: Workplace trauma at your last job left you feeling like a failure or not good enough? This can be harmful to your self-confidence in future jobs and could even damage your sense of self-worth longer term. You may fear putting yourself “out there” again in a professional sense, limiting your career potential and overall satisfaction.
Limiting beliefs essentially act as a safety mechanism, they protect us from being hurt again in the future by removing us from the “risky” situation that originally caused the belief to form.
Example: If you performed on stage one time and received criticism from a classmate, you might be less likely to perform on stage again if you developed a limiting belief that you weren’t talented enough.
The *real* harm
It is, however, really important to remember this; although limiting beliefs try to protect us from harm, they too are harmful in themselves. They do not represent reality, but rather a distortion of how we view ourselves based on a past experience(s) that caused us feelings of hurt or trauma.
In many cases, there will likely have been a large number of positive experiences in the area that we have the limiting belief. But without realising, we choose to ignore them and focus on the negative few, which helps us to stay in the comfort of safety.
E.g. Going back to my limiting belief that I am “bad” at Maths: I found only positive comments in the majority of my school reports, yet for years I focused on one comment from a teacher saying “Charlotte is not a natural Mathematician”.
This is how limiting beliefs can pose even more danger to us, they can cause us to see reality differently and only look out for the experiences that fit in with the belief we have developed - proving us “right”!
So, as you can imagine over time, this pattern results in a continuous strengthening of the limiting belief and makes it even more tricky to release.
Yeah… I told you these limiting beliefs were no picnic, didn’t I?!
2. You won’t consciously be able to pinpoint the root cause
Another important thing to remember when it comes to limiting beliefs is that you will likely be unable to figure out when it first started, or the event that initially caused it. You just know that it’s there.
In NLP, we call this first event the “root cause” and it is determined by your unconscious mind, which essentially controls 95% of all your brain activity. Think of it as a “library of your life” including memories, thoughts, and feelings.
Your more logical, conscious mind is rather in the foreground but only controls a relatively small amount (5%). That is why you won’t consciously know the cause of your limiting belief - this requires some extra digging that can be achieved through certain techniques (will give more detail on this later).
3. You don’t have to suffer… anymore!
Yes, it’s true. You don’t have to just accept that you have a limiting belief. I mean, why should you have to? You deserve to live the best life available to you, and it is part of my mission to help you achieve this!
There are certain habits that you can adopt to help you free your mind of these limiting beliefs you are struggling with, one of which is practicing affirmations regularly in relation to your limiting belief.
How it works: You essentially take the limiting belief and turn it on its head. So instead of “I’m bad at Maths”, you turn it into a positive phrase like “I’m a talented Mathematician” or “I am amazing at Maths”.
Now, the official definition of an affirmation is to “state emphatically or publicly”. But don’t worry - I’m not saying go around shouting from the rooftops, or even aloud if you don’t feel comfortable doing so!
Writing the positive phrase regularly on a piece of paper can be really effective, and/or on post-it notes placed in your surroundings where you will see them easily. I find that on your desk or next to your bathroom mirror can work as a treat.
However, do not underestimate the significance of saying the phrase out loud - this can be really powerful stuff. The brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined, so naturally, when you speak your positive phrase aloud, it will feel all the more real!
Think of it like reprogramming your mind to create your reality, because that is essentially what affirmations help you to do.
Schedule Sessions with a Certified NLP Practitioner
If you are keen to dig a little deeper into your limiting beliefs and experience some BIG shifts, then working with an NLP Practitioner could be the right move for you.
There are many powerful tools and techniques that your NLP practitioner will have under their belt to help with reframing and challenging your limiting beliefs. As a recently qualified practitioner myself, I find the prospect of having such a toolkit so very exciting as it has the potential to change so many lives and create many more fulfilled ones.
Whilst I won’t dive into more detail on these techniques at this point, there is one, in particular, I must mention that can help so much with limiting beliefs.
Time Line Therapy™
This is an NLP-derived technique that can be used so powerfully to release negative emotions and limiting beliefs in a relatively short period of time (roughly 10-minutes).
By applying the concept that our unconscious mind works like a timeline, Time Line Therapy™ can help us to internally reprogram our mind in relation to past experiences and trauma. Trust me when I tell you how amazing this technique is, having experienced it myself!!
Let’s Work Through It 🤓
Having qualified as a Time Line Therapy™ practitioner, I am super excited to share the details of my brand new “Limitless Life” coaching sessions priced at £147.
Here, over 2 sessions we work on identifying your limiting belief and releasing it using the powerful technique.
Session 1: Awareness & Identification: 45-minute session exploring your biggest limiting beliefs to discover which one is holding you back the most from making the changes you need to begin your path to fulfillment.
Session 2: Taking Action on freeing yourself from one identified limiting belief: Includes 30-min duration with powerful NLP Time Line Therapy® technique
You can get started by booking your Limitless Life session 1 slot into my calendar!
Feel free to direct any questions over to email@example.com and I'll be happy to answer!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope this has helped you understand a bit more about why limiting beliefs exist and how you can work on releasing them.