Limiting beliefs are systems that we acquire from past experience - mostly it is taught to us by important others as values and attitudes that they'd like to pass down. These become the very mechanism that drive our behavior. But as we age, some of these attitudes tend to stunt our growth, much like putting us on a short leash.
Have you ever seen a dog on a short leash? They can hardly take two steps, sit, or lay down. They're so uncomfortable that they start to get incredibly cranky. While the leash might have served its purpose for them as pups, grown dogs on short leashes could affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally - from sheer frustration that they cannot seem to do anything. When we outgrow our belief systems but still hold them so close to our hearts, they too, can be paralyzing - keeping us on a short leash and denying us the possibility of experiencing life to the fullest.
Beliefs on money, relationships, health, career, and tradition are among some of the most popular limits in our society today. Simply because as the world changes, we manage to stick to outdated practices. Can you think of belief systems that you might have grown up with that are limiting you today?
Here are some steps you can take to start digging through your belief systems:
1. Identify categories / topics that resonate. Here are a few to get you started:
- How you view yourself
- What scares you
- How you react to adversity
- How you feel about vulnerability
- How you feel about the opposite sex
2. List down how each of these topics make you feel and why.
Let's take money for example. To be honest, the topic of money has always made me uncomfortable - so I never talk about it. Why? Because it's inappropriate to discuss money among people - or so I've been told. But this feeling and this thought is what paralyzed me when I needed to learn how to ask for what I believed I deserved.
3. Identify the beliefs that came with them by stating them in a sentence. When did they begin? From whom?
My money ideas obviously came from my family and the way that they treated the topic of money. It wasn't so much that we could not talk about it, but that we actually didn't know how to communicate about it without getting into arguments. Hence, it was better to shut up.
4. Summarize your limiting beliefs for each category
So what were my limiting beliefs about money? (1) That talking about money will lead to arguments, so there's no use communicating about it; (2) Money causes people to argue; (3) I'm better off not knowing anything about money.
Try to dissect each of the categories that you have started to work on. What are the stories? What are the thoughts and feelings in each? And why? Summarize each aspect into bullet points to give you a better view of the issues at hand.
1. Are you ready to let them go?
When you've figured out what your limits are, ask yourself if you're ready to let them go. Some of these beliefs might still be working for you - so assess which ones you'd like to release completely.
2. Write affirmation statements about how you would like to feel
It helps to be able to write affirmation statements about how you would really like to feel. In my example, money caused arguments. Therefore, an affirmation could be "I can communicate my financial needs easily".
3. Read each one out loud
Go through your list of affirmations and try to embody the feeling that comes with each one.
4. Leave your affirmations everywhere to remind you
Gather all your post-its and start sticking your affirmations around you so that everywhere you turn, you have an affirmation near you to remind you that you can move beyond your limits. ;) The more, the better.