Do you limit your own progress?
Do you doubt your own abilities?
Have you put off going for a promotion or applying for a job because you tell yourself you’re not good enough?
These thoughts are known as ‘Limiting Beliefs’.
‘Limiting beliefs’ is a phrase that pops up in a variety of self help and motivational articles these days. So what are they? Where do they come from? And how do we release ourselves from them?
Limiting beliefs are simply the stories we tell ourselves as a result of the information we have come across or the experiences we have had. Often these limiting beliefs hold us back from doing things we would like to do. They may, under closer examination, be justified….or not. “I can’t perform open heart surgery as I haven’t been trained” is a justified limiting belief. “I could never stand up and speak in front of a group of people” may not be an accurate belief. With practice, support and possibly some coaching you may overcome this belief and realise that you can do that.
Most of us have some self limiting beliefs …..personal to us. ” I never have anything interesting to say” may prevent us from joining in social occasions and meeting new people. “I wouldn’t be able to do any other job” may keep us stuck for years in a job we don’t enjoy. “I can’t cook” “I don’t think I have enough experience” “I’m a rubbish parent”….. there are so many possibilities.
Funnily enough, if you were to ask a friend what you are capable of, the likelihood is that they will believe you are capable of more than You think you are.
So how do we form these beliefs? Some may have come from information given to us by a teacher, a parent, a ‘friend’, a partner, a boss or from an experience we have has. We may have been told ‘ you’re not blessed with brains’, ‘ you’re the scatty one’, ‘ you wouldn’t pass that exam’, ‘you’re boring’, ‘don’t bother going for the promotion, you won’t get it’ ….and you believed it …..or you started to. You may have gathered information from your experiences: several unsuccessful job interviews , several relationships that have broken down, failed exams or tests….. which could have been interpreted as “I’m no good at interviews …..or relationships ….or exams” -possibly leading to the formation of limiting beliefs. However, another interpretation could be ” those interviews/ exams/ relationships didn’t go too well for me but I have learned a lot and I’m sure things will work out better in the future”
Information prompts thought …..negative, neutral or positive depending on the story we tell ourself -our interpretation. It’s no surprise that different people tell themselves different stories depending on how they interpret the information and how they are feeling and seeing life at the time. Our brains are primarily focused on our survival and keeping us safe and will try and steer us away from the things we fear …and influence our interpretations.
So how do we change these beliefs so we can release ourselves from the limits they are causing so that we can get on and do the things we want to? The first step is to acknowledge the limiting belief? When you think “I can’t…” about something ……ask yourself “why not?”, “how justified is that belief?” “Is it your belief, or someone else’s belief about you, that you have taken on?” “Does that belief apply to me now or is it something that may have been justified a long time ago but not to who I am now?” “Could you do it with support … or by brushing up your skills?”
It can really help to talk your limiting beliefs through with someone who’s opinion you value and who you trust to show respect to what you are saying. If you don’t want to do that, writing things down can help. Sometimes it is then easier to be objective about what you have written.
The opinion that matters most is the opinion we have of ourselves …not other peoples opinion of us. We are all given individual skills and talents to use to the best of our ability. Some people are great at this and not at that …and others are great at that and not this … this important thing is to be who we are to the best of our ability and not to be fearful and limited by our beliefs of what we are capable of.
One thought on “Do you doubt your own abilities?”
Good piece Pippa. My wife and I were only talking at dinner tonight about having confidence to “go” for
things and “do” things, and the difference between our two children on that front.
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