"I'm horrible at math."
"Me? Cook? Impossible!"
"Visiting new countries is just not my thing -- I prefer to stay at home."
We don't just become who we are. The outcome is very much influenced by decisions we have made along the way, people we've observed and seeds that have been planted personally or by others about our abilities, limitations, preferences, values and principles. Are these statements actually true or have these beliefs been shaped inaccurately, limiting your ability to break from an artificial mold?
A limiting belief is a false idea that a person acquires as a result of making an incorrect conclusion about something in life. The biggest problem about these beliefs is that they force you to live below your potential. So if there's a rock that weighs 5kg but you believed that it weighs 50kg you might not ever try to move it because you whole heartedly think you can't. This belief and the rock as a metaphor for challenges in your life will remain on your path, not because it belongs there, but because you don't believe in your ability to move it.
Our thoughts and the way we talk about ourselves help shape these beliefs. A limiting belief can imbed itself in our subconscious and stay there if you don't check and challenge it. As you reflect on your own life, you should have no problem finding at least a few limiting beliefs and you'll probably become more aware of several of them after reading this article. Of course it seems more comfortable to just accept what you have believed for so long hoping that maybe the belief will just dissolve away at some point. However, choosing this option isn't easier at all because of all the negative consequences it can have on your thoughts, actions and behavior.
Fortunately we do let go of certain beliefs that may have held us back, incorrectly guided us and limited our ability to fully engage in life, while others remain lingering. Here are some of the more common ones you may relate to and suggestions about how to broaden your thinking:
-First impressions or other people's opinion about someone may not be accurate -- let time and experience form your belief about them.
-What you think you want may be what others think you should want.
-Being bored might be because you're boring, don't show interest and don't plan things, rather wait for others to take the lead. Why not start planning things yourself?
-The breakdown of a marriage is largely due to getting married for the wrong reasons rather than to the wrong person.
-Acknowledging that a difficult and self absorbed person can't be pleased because they will keep moving the goal post, so we should change the way we react, rather than trying to change them.
-The blue print of our life constructed at 20 needs to be revisited and updated on a regular basis to avoid a feeling of failure for not achieving certain goals that were set at another time and place.
-Having nothing planned isn't a disaster -- it could actually be the best part of your week and a chance to relax.
-Being good at school doesn't mean you'll automatically be good at work.
-Thinking that being in a relationship will instantly solve all problems.
Realizing that there's always more than one 'truth' to every situation.
-It's OK to have friends that are as different from one another as chalk and cheese. There's no reason to be ashamed of the diversity amongst them.
-Far away friends could be closer and more reliable than those we regularly see.
-The kid who teased you in 10th grade probably did you a favor by teaching you that other people's opinion of you is often subjective and guided by their own interests.
-Forget about whether the glass is half full or half empty. Instead, be curious about the strength of the glass and nature of the content -- is it pure, transparent, not polluted, will it prevent emotional dehydration? Is the glass fragile or tough, able to withstand changes, cracked or smooth? Can you share the content with others? Do others share with you? How do you refill the glass?
The point is we need to move beyond popular self-help clichés, identify what our limiting beliefs are and think deeper about such questions so that faulty logic doesn't inhibit our potential. Black and white explanations that neglect the range of rainbow possibilities in between only confuse rather than clarify. Fortunately we can eradicate self-limiting beliefs so that we don't pause progress nor will we believe backward, but instead will begin acting forward. As Carl Jung said, "I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become."