fbpx
conquer woman sunset

We all have self-limiting beliefs that keep us from reaching our full potential. 

Some of my recent self-limiting beliefs include:

  • “Why would anyone pay to take a class I’m running? I don’t really have anything valuable to say.”
  • “I’ll never get to a point where enrolling people for my programs feels easy. I don’t know anything about automating things. It would probably be a lot of work for little reward.”
  • “If I miss a week of writing, it will become a slippery slope. I’ll stop writing regularly.”
  • “I shouldn’t focus so much time on my health and wellness. It’s selfish.”

Whenever we dream big, work toward goals, or step out of our comfort zones, self-limiting beliefs pop up. 

Why?

Our lizard brain (scientifically known as your limbic system) wants to keep us safe from unknown things that could harm us. 

This stress response surely has served humanity well at many points throughout our existence. I’m sure we can even think of times in our lives where our fight-or-flight response kept us safe. 

But, often, this response doesn’t serve us well

Here’s the reality. 85% of what we worry about never happens. And, of the 15% of the time it does, approximately 80% of people discover one of two things:

  • That they could handle it better than expected, or
  • That they learned something valuable from the experience. 

If you do the math this means that 97% of the time what we worry about either:

  • Never happens
  • We realize we could handle it better than we expected
  • We learn something valuable from it

Do we really want something that could possibly happen 3% of the time to occupy our minds and keep us from reaching toward our goals? 

I wish asking this simple question was enough to allow us to set aside our worries. Of course, it isn’t.

That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to share six strategies that I use to overcome my self-limiting beliefs so that I can move toward my goals.

6 Strategies to Conquer Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

There are six main strategies that I use when I’m working through my own self-limiting beliefs. 

Here is the list of strategies, and then I will dig into them one by one:

  • Flip the Script
  • Look for Evidence
  • Ask Questions
  • Articulate an Empowering Belief
  • Test Your New Empowering Beliefs
  • Build a Supportive Community

Recently, my friend Mel (who writes at Modest Millionaires) and I put out a survey to understand more about the limiting beliefs that people were experiencing. This information was incredibly helpful for crafting our recent workshop and writing this post. 

To help illustrate these strategies, I’m going to use a few survey responses that felt representative of the types of things that we all deal with. While the details might be different, I imagine that we have all dealt with similar limiting beliefs in some shape or form. 

  1. “I’m too young to start my own business. I don’t ‘look the part,’ so people won’t trust me.”
  2. “The gains vs. the efforts are too disproportionate, so taking action is pointless.”
  3. “Leaving my job is irresponsible.”
  4. “What if I fail?”
  5. “I’m not as good as other people at making money.”

To use these 6 strategies to conquer your limiting beliefs, you need to have a good sense of what your limiting beliefs actually are. Once you know what they are, you can start to work through them. 

If you are struggling to figure out what limiting beliefs are holding you back, I’ve got you covered. Download my Guide to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs. You’ll automatically be enrolled in a 5-day email course about how to use the guide and accompanying worksheet. 

FREE GUIDE

Subscribe to receive our FREE Guide to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
DOWNLOAD

1. Flip the Script

When you pull out your list of limiting beliefs, the first step is to try to flip the script. Try simply stating the opposite of each statement, and see if you could actually believe that the opposite could be true. 

To help you get a sense of what this looks like, let’s walk through how I would “flip the script” on the 5 different examples from the survey. You’ll see that I also use a bit of personal liberty to decide which portions of the script I choose to flip.

As a reminder, here are the examples we will be looking at: 

  1. “I’m too young to start my own business. I don’t ‘look the part,’ so people won’t trust me.”
  2. “The gains vs. the efforts are too disproportionate, so taking action is pointless.”
  3. “Leaving my job is irresponsible.”
  4. “What if I fail?”
  5. “I’m not as good as other people at making money.”

Here is one way to flip the script on these examples:

  1. “I’m not too young to start my own business. It doesn’t matter if I ‘look the part.’ People will trust me.”
  2. “Taking action is not pointless because my efforts will lead to results.”
  3. “Leaving my job is not irresponsible.”
  4. “What if I succeed?”
  5. “I’m just as good as other people at making money.” 

Now, you might be thinking, “Uggghhh, that sounds a lot like affirmations.”

I hear you. I hate those too. When I was 23 and making $11,000/year doing AmeriCorps, if you would have told me to say, “Abundance flows to me; I have everything I need,” I would have told you to buzz off.

That’s why this isn’t the only strategy to conquer our limiting beliefs.

If you flip the script and feel like the statement is not something that you can believe, that’s okay. Simply try another strategy.

2. Look for Evidence

The next strategy is to look for evidence, whether from your life or someone else’s.  Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that this limiting belief is (or isn’t) true?”

Start by looking at your own personal experience. You may have had negative experiences in your past that make you feel like something is true. It’s important to acknowledge those. Then, you can ask yourself, “Is it likely to happen again?”

After that, you can look for places in your own life where this limiting belief wasn’t actually true. We often have an easier time identifying times where things went wrong. Sometimes, we need to think a little harder to come up with examples of where things went right. 

Other times, you don’t have any personal experience related to that limiting belief. When that’s true, you can look at evidence from other people. Ask yourself, “Are there other people in similar circumstances who are doing this successfully?”

Now, let’s look at a few examples. I won’t walk through all 5 examples. Hopefully, I will walk through enough examples that you will feel comfortable looking for evidence on your own. 

“I’m too young to start my own business. I don’t ‘look the part,’ so people won’t trust me.”

Here’s how I would go about looking for evidence for this particular limiting belief. I’d ask the following questions:

  • What is the evidence that I am too young to start my own business?
  • Are there other young people who have started successful businesses?
  • When have I set and achieved my goal regardless of my age?
  • How have I already built trust with people in a variety of setting regardless of my age? 
  • Are there other successful entrepreneurs who don’t focus on their physical appearance? 

“The gains vs. the efforts are too disproportionate, so taking action is pointless.”

Here are the questions I’d ask about this limiting belief as I look for evidence:

  • What is the evidence that the result will not be worth the effort?
  • Do I already know what the result will be? Or is it unclear? 
  • When I’ve seen other people do something similar, did they say that it wasn’t worth it? 
  • What evidence do I have that taking action is pointless?

“Leaving my job is irresponsible.”

Let me share a few questions that I’d ask myself to uncover evidence around this limiting belief:

  • What evidence do I have that leaving my job is irresponsible? 
  • Do I know of other people in a similar situation who have left their jobs? Are there situations in which this decision was not irresponsible?

3. Ask Questions

I recently asked people on Twitter about what they do when imposter syndrome shows up. This is a particularly tricky limiting belief, so I was very interested to hear the responses. There was one response in particular that I loved!

I thought this was such a fantastic analogy for working through really tricky limiting beliefs!

When I’m working through tricky limiting beliefs, I often think of it as a dialogue between my inner critic and my inner coach. With compassionate curiosity, my inner coach invites my inner critic in “for coffee” and gently asks questions. 

In reality, I don’t literally sit across the table from it. But, I do often drink a cup of coffee with a journal in hand. I’ll ask myself the following questions (and whatever other questions come out of my compassionate curiosity):

  • Why do I believe this is true?
  • Why is this actually an issue?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • If that happened, how would I handle it?
  • Would I still be okay? 

Let’s work through a couple of examples. 

“The gains vs. the efforts are too disproportionate, so taking action is pointless.”

Here are some of the questions that I’d ask myself (in a kind and curious way):

  • Why do I believe that the efforts wouldn’t be worth the outcome in this case? 
  • If I put a lot of effort into this and the results aren’t what I want them to be, what would the actual issue be? What are the ramifications if this isn’t successful?
  • Even if the results end up not being what I want, are there still other reasons why taking action would be worth it? 
  • Could I learn something valuable from this experience that I could apply in the future? 
  • What is the realistic worst-case scenario given my current situation? 
  • What sorts of buffers or safety nets do I already have in place if things don’t go as planned?
  • Do I really want to stay where I am because the outcome is uncertain? 

“What if I fail?”

Here is how I would start a dialogue with my inner critic for this one:

  • Why do I believe I’ll fail? 
  • If I do fail, what would that look like? What are the actual ramifications?
  • What if I succeed? What would that look like? 
  • Are there places along the way that I could check in with myself to see how things are going? Would I be able to pivot if needed? 

“I’m not as good as other people at making money.”

Questions you could ask yourself to have a dialogue about this limiting belief:

  • Why do I believe I’m not as good as other people at making money?
  • Who are the “other people” I am comparing myself to? Do I need to make as much money as they do? Or, do I just need to figure out what is enough for me?
  • Can I think of a time where I learned something new (even if that thing was really challenging)? Could I learn the skills and build the confidence needed to make enough money to meet my needs and save? 

Asking yourself questions with compassionate curiosity is incredibly helpful when working through limiting beliefs.

If you are worried that you’ll start to feel defensive or anxious during this process, I’d recommend doing something kind for yourself first. Then, imagine a kind, trusted friend who you know loves you asking you these questions. 

4. Articulate an Empowering Belief Instead

After working through the first three strategies, it’s important to take a step back and take stock of what you actually believe. Sometimes, you might logically know that something is true, but you don’t yet feel that it’s true. That’s okay. You can write down what you want to be true, even if you aren’t quite there yet. 

Here are the examples of how I’d articulate empowering beliefs for the five examples we are using.

Limiting BeliefEmpowering Belief
I’m too young to start my own business. I don’t “look the part;” people won’t trust me. Many young people start businesses. If I focus on being authentic, I will attract the right people to my business. I can build trust in other ways besides my physical appearance. 
The gains vs. the efforts are too disproportionate, so taking action is pointless.I don’t know yet if the efforts and the gains are disproportionate. There is more work to do to figure that out. The bigger question is: will I enjoy the process? Will I learn from it? If so, maybe that’s more important than the outcome. 
Leaving my job is irresponsible.Leaving my job is not irresponsible if I set up my finances well for the transition and if I have a plan for how I will generate the income I need. I trust in my ability to be resourceful and generate income in a variety of ways. There may even be cases where staying in a toxic job would be irresponsible. 
What if I fail?As long as I experiment, take small steps along the way, and adjust as needed, I can manage my fear of failure. I can focus more on what I’ll learn and where necessary, ensure I have safety nets in place. 
I’m not as good as other people at making money. I’m focusing on what amount of money is enough for me in this time period to support myself, my family, and my future. I don’t need to compare myself with others. My knowledge and abilities aren’t fixed; I can learn how to make more money if I need to. 

5. Test Your New Empowering Beliefs

Sometimes we can logically believe that something is true. But, deep down, we don’t really feel it yet. This is why it’s important to “try on” your new empowering beliefs. 

For example, let’s talk about the empowering belief that young people can start a business and you don’t need to overly focus on physical appearance. 

How can you actually test the new empowering belief?

You can start to experiment. What kinds of small steps could you take toward your goal? When you take those steps, review your new empowering belief and ask, “what could happen if I believed that this was true?”

After taking action, then, you can reflect to see how you feel about the empowering belief. Over time, this is how you go from believing something in your head only to feeling it in your heart also. 

6. Build a Supportive Community

Of all these strategies, building a community of people working toward similar goals is the most important thing you can do.

There are a few reasons why:

  • When the thing you want is just the “normal” thing that people want within a specific community, it lowers the stakes. Once you see other people who don’t seem so different from you achieving it, you start to really believe success is possible for you too.
  • Within a supportive community, people can also provide you with new ideas for ways to work through things.
  • They can also provide a more objective perspective to help you reframe the issues.
  • Finally, when you start to help others work through their limiting beliefs, the voice in your head becomes a lot kinder. You start to hear yourself sharing kind and encouraging things. Then, you realize you can apply those exact same things to yourself. 

Here are a few ideas for ways you can build a supportive community:

Conquer Your Self-Limiting Beliefs and Become Unstoppable

After working through limiting beliefs in my coaching program, one of my clients recently had a lightbulb moment.

She said, “This is the secret sauce of lifestyle design, isn’t it? You experiment, work through your limiting beliefs, gain confidence, and take the next step. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

That is exactly right.

When you know what you want, you can start to anticipate what limiting beliefs will come up for you. This will allow you to proactively create empowering beliefs that will help you build confidence as you move forward. As you experiment and test your limiting beliefs, you start to really believe they are true. New limiting beliefs come up, and you have the skills, tools, and community to work through them.

It truly is a virtuous cycle. 

I’ve experienced this in my life as I reduced my work hours, as I started my business, as I quit my job to take my business full-time, and as I’ve created new programs. 

I’ve seen this in my clients’ lives as well, as they:

  • Set boundaries at work
  • Start businesses
  • Take temporary jobs to experiment with a new career path
  • Find new jobs
  • Start passion projects
  • Become freelancers
  • Reduce their work hours
  • Take sabbaticals

Working through self-limiting beliefs gives us the confidence to take the next step. Taking action solidifies our new empowering belief. And the cycle continues. 

If you want to get started identifying your own self-limiting beliefs, I’d encourage you to download this guide. When you download it, you’ll be enrolled in a 5-day email course that walks you through everything you need to know to get started. 

FREE GUIDE

Subscribe to receive our FREE Guide to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
DOWNLOAD
Join the Community

JOIN NOW 

FREE ANTI-BUDGET TEMPLATE

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free copy of our anti-budget template
DOWNLOAD

FREE TEMPLATE

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free copy of our time to FI template
DOWNLOAD

FREE TEMPLATE

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free copy of our FI Milestones template
DOWNLOAD

FREE QUESTIONNAIRE

Subscribe to receive a free copy of our Lifestyle Design Questionnaire.
DOWNLOAD

FREE GUIDE

Subscribe to receive our FREE Guide to Identify Your Limiting Beliefs
DOWNLOAD