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What is a limiting belief?

It’s an idea or thought we have that keeps us from whatever it is we want, be it a meaningful relationship, a purposeful career, or a higher ranking in your local tennis league.

Limiting beliefs can hold us back from achieving our full potential and living a fulfilling life. It’s often difficult to identify these beliefs, especially when they have become deeply ingrained into our thinking patterns. But with a little self-compassion and mindfulness, we can begin to recognize just what these limiting beliefs are and work to overcome them. Below are a few tips to help you identify and overcome your limiting beliefs.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

Recognizing and challenging limiting beliefs can be a daunting task, and entirely doable, but it's important to remember that it takes work, that we are all human and imperfect. Be kind to yourself as you start this process of self-discovery. Remember that you’re not alone, everyone has limiting beliefs, and it's okay to struggle with them. Treat yourself with the same compassion and empathy you would offer a dear friend.

2. Listen to Your Inner Voice

Our inner voice can be a powerful indicator of our limiting beliefs. Listen to the things you say to yourself when faced with challenges or setbacks. Do you tend to criticize yourself harshly or make negative predictions about your abilities? Notice how these thoughts make you feel and acknowledge them without judgment. One of the tools I teach my clients is how to read their body, to understand how certain thoughts impact the body and allow the body to guide them in discovering limiting beliefs.

3. Reflect on Your Life Experiences

Our past experiences can shape our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Reflect on your life experiences and how they may have influenced your beliefs. Did you have any experiences that led you to believe that you are not good enough or that success is out of reach? Remember that it's okay to feel emotions that come up as you reflect, and give yourself space and time to process them. Try to reframe those experiences, or stories you’ve developed around your experiences, so that you become the hero, not the victim.

4. Pay Attention to Your Emotions

Limiting beliefs can often be tied to negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or shame. Pay attention to the emotions that arise when you face challenges or make decisions. Notice if these emotions are linked to any limiting beliefs you may hold. Remember that these emotions are valid, and it's okay to feel them. Take a few deep breaths and give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel. Give yourself 90 seconds to feel all of that negative emotion, then get curious about what’s causing the fear, anxiety or shame, and ask yourself, is that real?

5. Ask for Support

Identifying and overcoming limiting beliefs can be a challenging and emotional process. Don't be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or professional for support. Sometimes it can be hard to see our own limiting beliefs, and an outside perspective can be helpful. You may not even recognize you’ve got limiting beliefs, and instead think you’re just stuck or not getting anywhere - chances are limiting beliefs are at play.

Remember, identifying and overcoming limiting beliefs can be a journey, but it's a journey worth taking. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you start this process (or why not always be kind and gentle with yourself?). Listen to your inner voice, reflect on your life experiences, pay attention to your emotions, and don't be afraid to ask for support. Remember that it's entirely possible to break free from limiting beliefs and live a more fulfilling life.

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