Identifying Limiting Beliefs and Six Easy Steps to a Powerful Reframe

A belief is anything that we believe to be true based on our experience. When we have an experience we apply meaning to it, to give it context. Our interpretation of an experience is how we make sense of the world. And in that meaning we form beliefs.  But beliefs are neither logical nor factual; they are an outcome of our perception. However, beliefs are very powerful because they form the basis of all of our thoughts, and our thoughts are at the centre of everything.

 A limiting belief is created in two phases. In phase one we have an experience, and then we form an opinion based on that experience. In phase two, we have additional experiences that reinforce the same opinion. And when an opinion is reinforced our mind transforms it into a conviction. 

So if we have a limiting belief, how does this impact our experience of the world?  A limiting belief can be very damaging because it’s based on the premise that something is not possible or available to us and therefore inhibits our potential. In a nutshell, limiting beliefs create a life less satisfying by ‘taking away the possibility of possibility’. So how do we identify a limiting belief and clear it out?

STEP 1: Identify Current Challenges

Take a notebook and pen and jot down the perceived challenges you face in each of the following areas. The questions are prompts to get you thinking about potential issues.

  • Money– Do you feel financial pressure? Do you have a level of income that supports your needs? Are your finances secure? Do you have an investment plan? 
  • Career– Do you love what you do? Do you feel motivated to get up and go to work every day? Is your job emotionally rewarding?
  • Relationships– Do you have connected relationships with family and friends? How do you show up in these relationships?
  • Health– Do you take time to look after yourself? How is your weight? What type of foods do you eat? Do you exercise regularly? Do you follow up with health checks?

STEP 2: Identify Negative Beliefs

For each of these areas, identify any negative beliefs that are contributing to these challenges. The beliefs outlined below are examples to get you thinking and should be replaced with your own limiting beliefs.

  • MoneyMoney doesn’t grow on trees. There is never enough money. Rich people can’t be trusted. I’ll never be able to afford the lifestyle I crave.
  • CareerClimbing the ladder is hard work. A nine to five job is the only way to make a living. I’m not smart enough to be a leader. I’m an imposter. The job I want isn’t available to me.
  • RelationshipsRelationships always end in disaster. Men/women can’t be trusted. I’m better off alone than being hurt. I don’t want a divorce. I’m not lovable enough.
  • HealthObesity runs in the family. I’m destined for a heart attack between 45 and 50. I don’t have time to exercise. Healthy meals are too hard and too expensive. 

*You can see in this step alone, how impactful a limiting belief can be. If you really believed these things, how is it possible to live a full life?

STEP 3: Rank Beliefs in Order of Impact 

Now rank these beliefs ( for for your tip five) in order of how big an impact they are having on your life. At the top of the list should be the belief that you believe is holding you back the most. To determine the level of importance for each belief, think how it would feel if you could eliminate this from your life.

Create your list regardless of which area of your life they are showing up in.
(See the example below)

  1. There is never enough money.
  2. A nine to five job is the only way to make a living.
  3. I’m an imposter (don’t know everything I need to know to do this job)
  4. I’m not loveable enough.
  5. I don’t have time to exercise.

STEP 4: Question the Belief

Ask yourself where each belief came from (your parents, sibling, teacher, friend, work colleague, manager, coach etc.) and what was the experience behind the belief.
For example, a belief that there is never enough money may have come from a limiting belief around money expressed by your parents. They may have said repeatedly ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’, or continually denied any request for childhood treats claiming ‘there is no money for that’.

STEP 5: Test the Validity of the Belief

Take each of your beliefs and imagine that you had to argue them in a court of law. Do you have absolute proof, and enough evidence to demonstrate that they are really true? Could you argue for them ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’?
It’s highly likely that when you get to this step you’ll realise how weak your beliefs really are. So question why you’re holding on so tight to them?

STEP 6: Reframe

Consider each limiting belief and think about what you would prefer to believe. Then reframe it in the positive. Those outlined below are examples, so develop your own based on the positive terms and words that resonate with you.

  • There is never enough money.
    (REFRAME) I am financially abundant.
  • A nine to five job is the only way to make a living.
    (REFRAME) There is an infinite number of alternative work opportunities.
  • I’m an imposter.
    (REFRAME) I have all the skills and knowledge I need right now.
  • I’m not lovable enough.
    (REFRAME) I am completely loveable and will find the perfect relationship for me.
  • I don’t have time to exercise.
    (REFRAME) I can shift my schedule to make time for myself because I am worth it.

Remember, “The only limits you have are the limits you believe” Wayne Dyer.

Five Ways to Face Your Fears & Live the Life You Want

Contrary to popular opinion, fear isn’t such a bad thing. After all, it’s responsible for keeping us safe, prompting our fight of flight response, and sending us running for the hills when a sabre tooth tiger shows up at our door. It’s a primal and natural response that for thousands of years has ensured the survival of our species.

However, most of the fears we face today are far less life threatening and come in the shape of uncomfortable experiences and feelings that we would rather not have or feel. The fear of public speaking is a common one. And while this is unlikely to result in a fatality, it can open up the proverbial can of worms in our emotional psyche. All the ‘what if’s’ start to take up residence in our brains and before we know it we’re catastrophising like a pro. Sound familiar?

Well that’s fear talking. That little voice in your head that says – ‘what if I fail’, ‘what if I look stupid’, ‘what if I’m judged negatively’, ‘what will people think’. You know the drill. Fear steps in like an overprotective parent, attempting to steer you away from perceived danger, which in most cases is simply a feeling of intense discomfort. 

But realise this, fear also paralyses you into inaction. Behind every procrastinator is a fear that the risk attached to completing a task or achieving a goal is greater than the reward. Fear loves to settle into your ‘comfort zone’, keeping you safe yes, but also keeping you small.

So how do you get fear on your side, propelling you into greatness instead of keeping you stuck?

  1. Give it a voice. Let your fear speak and really listen to what it’s trying to tell you. The fear that says you can’t have, do or be something is the manifestation of all your limiting beliefs, and it really just wants to stop you from getting hurt. 
  2. Challenge your limiting beliefs – are they really valid? A good way to know if they are true or simply a fabrication of your own making is to imagine that you have to argue for them in a court of law. For example, if you have the belief that you can’t learn new skills (based on a first grade teacher telling you that you were stupid), would that really hold up? Is it likely that this would be found to be true?
  3. Change your beliefs – the beauty about a belief is that you are free to change it. After all, you are the owner of the belief so it’s context and content is completely up to you. Swap out negative language for positive and say it to yourself repeatedly. Your mind will accept what you tell it, you just have to commit.
  4. Recognise that fear and excitement share the same physiological response – increased heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, feeling of nervousness in the stomach. If this is the case, would’t it be better to tell yourself that you were excited instead of fearful. What impact could this have on you moving forward with a goal, even in the face of potential failure. Tell yourself, “I’m excited. I’m so thrilled to be…..” and finish that sentence. 
  5. Befriend your fear– if you are prepared to partner with fear, to reframe your experiences and give them a new and more positive meaning, you start to build a strong resilience muscle. In doing this you move towards a life driven by curiosity and passion rather than anxiety and apprehension.

And one final piece of advice, let go of what other people think. Their perception of you is a reflection of them. You can’t control it so move on.