We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.
~ Louise Hay
Limiting beliefs are like heavy bags, filled with useless stuff, that you carry with you wherever you go.
You may think that whatever you’re carrying in those bags is important, but the bags ultimately weigh you down and greatly restrict your mobility. There’s also the aspect of becoming accustomed to carrying the bags. Once you do it for a while, it becomes your default state. You don’t know any better, so you go around carrying your baggage without ever stopping to ask, “Wait, what am I doing?”
Limiting beliefs are insidious because you don’t really know that they exist until you’re able to objectively look at yourself. It’s like the old phrase, “The fish will be the last to discover water.” Until you’re able to observe your thoughts, emotions and actions, you’ll forever be confined within a bubble reality of limiting beliefs and disempowering false assumptions.
Many of the limiting beliefs we hold are learned from our parents. As children, we are subconscious sponges, constantly picking up beliefs, habits, behavioral patterns and general views of the world from our parents. This is how our model of reality is sculpted, for better or worse. (See: Face It, You’re Parents are Flawed).
The Power of Mindfulness
I cannot stress the importance of mindfulness enough.
In order to be able to view yourself objectively and even have the option to change, you must cultivate mindfulness.
Think of mindfulness as self-awareness from a higher perspective, or the ability to objectively observe your thoughts, emotions and actions.
Mindfulness is the basis of any change. It is the foundational phenomena that, once, cultivated, will put you in a position of power to change anything. Instead of unknowingly repeating limiting or negative patterns on auto-pilot, mindfulness gives you the choice in every moment to indulge those patterns or not (and choice is a superpower).
If you develop mindfulness, you will be in a position to intuitively discover and release anything that’s holding you back. With enough mastery, you won’t need any external information. If you can still the waters of your mind and just listen, you’ll be able to receive all of the answers you need. Remember that.
Mindfulness is cultivated through a regular meditation practice. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or time consuming either. The notion that meditation has to be difficult is actually a limiting belief that many people have. You can start just by sitting with your eyes closed and observing your thoughts for 2 minutes every day. Just 2 minutes! Another ridiculously easy practice is the 21 Breath Salute. Once you feel like you’re able to consistently watch your thoughts and they appear less and less, you can extend the time or try out other forms of meditation. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of meditation; even the shortest and simplest daily practice will be greatly transformative over time.
A Simple 5 Step Process For Releasing Limiting Beliefs
1. Ask Questions and Embark on a Scavenger Hunt
Your limiting decisions are hiding out in the areas where you’re producing results that you don’t want.
~ Matthew B. James
Your limiting beliefs are the shadows lurking beneath the results you’re getting that you don’t want. So here’s the big question to identify limiting beliefs: What results are you getting that you don’t want? This can apply to any and every aspect of life.
If you’re having money problems, for example, chances are that you’re holding a limiting belief around money. So ask yourself these kinds of questions to get to the bottom of it:
Hint: If you’re reacting to your situation in a disempowered way, that’s a telltale sign of a limiting belief.
If you’re having problems finding a relationship, there’s probably a limiting belief standing in the way. Here are some ideas of questions to ask yourself regarding this:
Use these types of questions for any facet of life that you wish to release limiting beliefs. You’ll be surprised at how much you can uncover just by asking the right questions.
A major part of releasing limiting beliefs is treating it like an internal scavenger hunt. You have to be honest with yourself and willing to make a change. Adding elements of gamification and viewing the process as a scavenger hunt makes it more fun and less intimidating.
Note: Choose one specific limiting belief at a time for the rest of the steps. Focusing on one belief at a time will help create a deep awareness regarding that belief and allow you to effectively and fully eliminate it.
2. Write down the limiting belief.
Writing something down leverages the power of externalization. There’s something magical and cathartic about getting something out of your head and into written form. If you write your limiting beliefs down, it will give you perspective, objectivity and insight that you never would have imagined if you had just kept everything in your head.
3. Recognize that it is a belief, not necessarily truth.
This is crucial to understand; just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. Viewing beliefs from this perspective is transformative in and of itself.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
~ Marcus Aurelius
4. Change your thoughts until the belief changes (belief transmutation).
The most effective way to get rid of limiting beliefs is to replace them with more empowering beliefs.
A belief is simply a thought that you think over and over again. With mindfulness you can observe and change your thoughts. If you change a thought consistently, then you’ve changed a belief!
Affirmations are immensely useful here. Let’s go back to the limiting belief regarding money, “There’s never enough money.” Every time you say “There’s never enough money,” “I don’t have the money,” or anything like that (to yourself or out loud), change it to something like one of the following affirmations:
Find an affirmation that intuitively feels right for you or create your own based upon the specific limiting belief you wish to replace.
Consistency is key with this practice. Continuously substitute limiting self-talk for more empowering self-talk and soon enough your belief will be transmuted.
5. Consciously change your actions based on the new belief.
How would you act if you had this new belief? Act that way. It’s as simple as that. Act like the belief you want is your reality until it actually becomes your reality.
Using the example of limiting beliefs around money again, changing your actions doesn’t necessarily mean spending extravagantly. It can be as simple as expressing gratitude (and not guilt) whenever you do spend money. It can also consist of staying open to and actively pursuing more income, instead of just complaining about your lack of money. Another strategy is to not let money be the biggest factor in determining everything you do. For example, if you’re really craving almond butter, splurge and get the expensive almond butter without worrying that it costs $5 more than you usually spend. If you don’t let money control your decisions (while using discretion, of course), then guess what? Money won’t control your decisions.
Do you think you’re weak? Start acting like you’re strong, lift some weights and you’ll gain strength every week. Do you think you’re a bad writer? Write every day, and after a year, you’ll be a better writer than anyone you know. Do you think you’re bad at talking to men/women (whoever you’re attracted to)? Approach 100 people in the next month and you’ll be smoother than a frictionless surface after that. Do you see the trend here?
Clarity comes through action. The car has to be in motion in order for the steering to work.
You can’t sit around and do nothing, expecting your life to magically change. You have to meet the Universe half-way through your actions. Visualize the action and actualize the vision.
Note: Do steps 4-5 simultaneously until the limiting belief has been transmuted into a more empowering belief. This may take a day or two for some, or as long as a month or more for deeply ingrained beliefs.
The Paths Are Infinite
There are also strategies that have the potential of helping you to spontaneously release limiting beliefs. This includes things like plant medicine (ayahuasca, iboga, psilocybin…etc.), energy work (reiki, acupuncture…etc), yoga (especially when holding certain positions for longer periods of time) and insights that emerge out of deep meditation.
Though this article focuses on a specific process, remember that there are an infinite number of ways to reach any destination. Thinking that there is only one way to achieve something is a limiting belief in and of itself (wink, wink).
Burst through the bubbles of limitation and embrace all possibility.
– Stevie P