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What Are Limiting Beliefs and How Do You Know If You Have Them?

growth mindset and limiting beliefs

Each of us has some kind of view, or belief about ourselves. In fact, we have many beliefs which combine together to create an idea of 'us' a person - how we talk, how we play, how we interact with others...etc etc.

Our levels of self-confidence often have a lot to do with how positive or negative these beliefs about ourselves tend to be.

As you can imagine, if we have a lot of negative views about ourselves, this can stop us feeling fulfilled and achieving what we could if we had a more positive view of our own capabilities. This can be recognised as a limiting belief.

For example, if you have always believed that you are 'not good around new people', this probably stops you trying to meet new people, or avoiding situations where you think this might happen. If you do end up with an unfamiliar group, your lack of confidence might affect how you act, and the limiting belief might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, if you turn this on its head: 'I'm good at meeting new people... new people like to meet me', then imagine the impact on your behaviour if you believed this was true. You would probably be more relaxed, more willing to approach people, and you may have a smile on your face more of the time, instead of looking worried and unsure.

Switching a limiting belief on its head is much easier said than done. It often can't be done overnight, but a helpful first step is to identify what your limiting beliefs might be.

Writing Prompt:

Have a piece of paper in front of you and write down anything you 'think about yourself'. (This feels cringey and awkward to do, but don't worry, you can screw the paper up afterwards and throw it away.)

Now look at what you have written objectively. Which of these thing are actually TRUE, and which are CONSTRUCTIONS? Being tall, or having brown hair, may be true. Talking too much is probably a construction. Who said you talk too much? Is this something you remember from childhood? Was it a frustrated comment by one person, once?

You can begin to explore how these aspects of your self-identity might have been created, excavating to see where they could have come from.

I try to look at my list of limiting beliefs, and accept them without judgement. Beating myself up about having them isn't going to help me. We probably all have them, and I am showing care and compassion for myself by checking-in to see which of them might no longer be true. Just noticing that they are there is enough for now, and I can sit with the idea that I now have the opportunity to gently adjust them over time, if that would be helpful.

I am enough as I am, but I have the chance to change if I would like to.


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