Danijela Jokic Vaislay

How Limiting Beliefs Hold Us Back
and Sabotage Our Success

Limiting beliefs are negative beliefs about ourselves, that make us question and doubt our abilities. Limiting beliefs can be beliefs that we subconsciously picked up from our parents or caretakers, culturally and socially adopted beliefs, and beliefs that were formed by our own generalisation of our past experiences (usually painful and traumatic events)

No matter how much time, effort, and energy we out in into achieving our goals, if we have any limiting beliefs about ourselves (we feel underserving or do not truly believe that we are capable of achieving that goal) we will sabotage ourselves in the process.

“We typically avoid situations or fields in which we fear we might fail, even if we actually have the abilities it takes to succeed at a job, if we lack the belief that we can handle its challenges, we can start to act in ways that doom us. The thought ‘I can’t do this’ is crippling.”

(Daniel Goleman)

How influential is the power of belief can demonstrate the example of breaking the 4 minute record. Prior to year 1945 a worldwide ‘collective’ belief was that no man can run a mile (1.609344 kilometres) under four minutes. Since no man could ever run mile under four minutes before, this belief was collectively accepted as true and as a generalised ‘fact’. In 1945, 25 year old Roger Bannister, ran a mile in 3 minutes, 49 seconds, and 4 milliseconds, and broke the ‘4 minute record’. What happened next year was remarkable: 37 other runners ran a mile under four minutes! Roger Bannister did not just break the record – he also ‘broke’ the collective limiting belief that ‘no man can run a mile under four minutes’

Another example from sport also demostrates the power of beliefs. Vasily Alexeev, a world-class Russian weightlifter, could not lift 500 pounds, though he routinely lifted 495 pounds. in 1974, his coach played a trick on him to prove a point. He put 500 pounds on the bar and told Vasily the bar had 495 pounds on it. Thinking it was only 495 pounds, Vasily lifted the bar as usual. After Vasily was told he had lifted 500 pounds, he changed his belief and was able to do it in the competition.

Our limiting beliefs can act as our biggest self-inflicted limitations. “I can not” are three words that so often hold us back from even trying to go after our goals and dreams. “I can’t do it” can gradually evolve into “I could never do that…”, “Who am I to have/ be/ succeed/ get / achieve…?”, or even as self written ‘prophecies’:

“He would never be interested in me…”

“They wouldn’t value my opinion/ accept my request…”

“I could never possibly accomplish that/ succeed in that field…”

“I wouldn’t have much to offer to that type of man/woman …”

“There is no way that I could get that job / raise / bonus…”

“I would never be able to get / create / achieve that!”

Unless we tried, applied, asked for what we want, how can we ‘know’ for sure that we can not learn, achieve, or have something? 

We can even limit ourselves with our personality traits or ‘labels’ that we give to ourselves:

“I am not that type of person, therefor I cannot do / say/ achieve _______”. 

“I am an introvert, so I cannot make a good motivational speaker / be great at netowkring/ learn great communcation skills / be good at marketing.

We can also form limiting beliefs by generalizing our past experiences, especially after going through painful, tragic, or traumatic events in our life. For example, “I always attract the wrong men” can be a limiting belief that a woman can form after a few unsuccessful relationships with men who were not compatible for her. Similarly, “I get fired from every job. I just can’t keep any job for long” can be a limiting belief that a person can form after getting fired several times).  Although our generalizations are usually formed upon our real experiences or the events that we witnessed throughout the course of our life, our past does not represent the cemented prophecy of our future! 

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The people we are surrounded by, and our environment also play a big role in forming our beliefs about ourselves and what is possible for us. If no one in our family, town, country, or region could not do or achieve the goal that we have set for ourselves, it can be very difficult for us to believe that we can do it ourselves. It can be hard to believe in ourselves, if we were growing up listening to how we are ‘incapable’, ‘clumsy’, ‘worthless’, or if we are surrounded by people who criticize us all the time.  We can form very different beliefs about wealth and money, depending on whether we were growing up in poverty, in a middle class family, or in a wealthy family.

 

”Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what’s possible and what’s impossible, what we can and can not do!”

(Tony Robbins)

How influential is the power of belief can demonstrate the example of breaking the 4 minute record. Prior to year 1945 a worldwide ‘collective’ belief was that no man can run a mile (1.609344 kilometres) under four minutes. Since no man could ever run mile under four minutes before, this belief was collectively accepted as true and as a generalised ‘fact’. In 1945, 25 year old Roger Bannister, ran a mile in 3 minutes, 49 seconds, and 4 milliseconds, and broke the ‘4 minute record’. What happened next year was remarkable: 37 other runners ran a mile under four minutes! Roger Bannister did not just break the record – he also ‘broke’ the collective limiting belief that ‘no man can run a mile under four minutes’

Another example from sport also demostrates the power of beliefs. Vasily Alexeev, a world-class Russian weightlifter, could not lift 500 pounds, though he routinely lifted 495 pounds. in 1974, his coach played a trick on him to prove a point. He put 500 pounds on the bar and told Vasily the bar had 495 pounds on it. Thinking it was only 495 pounds, Vasily lifted the bar as usual. After Vasily was told he had lifted 500 pounds, he changed his belief and was able to do it in the competition.

Our limiting beliefs can act as our biggest self-inflicted limitations. “I can not” are three words that so often hold us back from even trying to go after our goals and dreams. “I can’t do it” can gradually evolve into “I could never do that…”, “Who am I to have/ be/ succeed/ get / achieve…?”, or even as self written ‘prophecies’:

“He would never be interested in me…”

“They wouldn’t value my opinion/ accept my request…”

“I could never possibly accomplish that/ succeed in that field…”

“I wouldn’t have much to offer to that type of man/woman …”

“There is no way that I could get that job / raise / bonus…”

“I would never be able to get / create / achieve that!”

Unless we tried, applied, asked for what we want, how can we ‘know’ for sure that we can not learn, achieve, or have something? 

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We can even limit ourselves with our personality traits or ‘labels’ that we give to ourselves:

“I am not that type of person, therefor I cannot do / say/ achieve _______”. 

“I am an introvert, so I cannot make a good motivational speaker / be great at netowkring/ learn great communcation skills / be good at marketing.

We can also form limiting beliefs by generalizing our past experiences, especially after going through painful, tragic, or traumatic events in our life. For example, “I always attract the wrong men” can be a limiting belief that a woman can form after a few unsuccessful relationships with men who were not compatible for her. Similarly, “I get fired from every job. I just can’t keep any job for long” can be a limiting belief that a person can form after getting fired several times).  Although our generalizations are usually formed upon our real experiences or the events that we witnessed throughout the course of our life, our past does not represent the cemented prophecy of our future! 

The people we are surrounded by, and our environment also play a big role in forming our beliefs about ourselves and what is possible for us. If no one in our family, town, country, or region could not do or achieve the goal that we have set for ourselves, it can be very difficult for us to believe that we can do it ourselves. It can be hard to believe in ourselves, if we were growing up listening to how we are ‘incapable’, ‘clumsy’, ‘worthless’, or if we are surrounded by people who criticize us all the time.  We can form very different beliefs about wealth and money, depending on whether we were growing up in poverty, in a middle class family, or in a wealthy family.

You get in life and relationships what you believe you deserve. The standards you set for yourself, for your finances, lifestyle, relationships, and health will determine the quality of your life. Your current life is the reflection of your mindset – your subconscious beliefs about what you are capable of, what you are (un)worthy of and how much is enough, much, or ‘too much’ for you.

Take some time to reflect on the following questions:
  • How often do you think or say that something would be ‘impossible’ for you?
  • Do you have an ‘income ceiling’ (‘earning set-point’) that you find difficult to break through?
  • How much (success, love, rest, money, luxury…) do you believe you deserve?
  • How much (success, money, love, praise, gifts…) do you allow yourself to receive?
  • What if there would be no limit that you set for yourself?
  • What if your ‘too much’ would become your new standard, your new ‘enough’?

 

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