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  • Writer's pictureLiz Morrison, LCSW

How Therapy for Teens Can Help With Limiting Self-Beliefs, Part 1: These Beliefs Are Holding You Back

Updated: May 15

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Self-defeating beliefs are any thoughts or patterns of thinking that create tension in your life. They impact your relationships, your career, and the views you have about your own abilities.

At Liz Morrison Therapy, all our therapists work with teens and young adults who struggle with limiting self-beliefs. These beliefs can be sneaky, seeping into all areas of your life without you even realizing it.

There’s good news: you can change your beliefs and have a better, more aligned life. In order to do this, you need to recognize your self-limiting beliefs for what they are and work to challenge them.

In part one of this blog series, we’ll talk about common self-defeating beliefs. In part two, we’ll talk about how to overcome them and how therapy for teens can help.

7 Types of Common Self-Defeating Beliefs

There are many types of self-defeating beliefs. We’ll go over some of the most common ones, adapted from the work of psychiatrist David D. Burns. They’re grouped into the following 7 categories:

  • Love

  • Achievement

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Submissiveness

  • Demandingness

  • Other

Each category has its own set of limiting self-beliefs. Most of these beliefs don’t take nuance or full reality into account. Instead, they’re often fear-based and are caused by learned associations.

Know that there’s nothing wrong with you for having these beliefs. They’re really common, and there’s a reason so many people struggle with them. Your brain adopts negative beliefs like these to keep you safe. It’s just trying to protect you from harmful experiences.


Self-defeating beliefs about love can prevent you from being happy in your relationships. They can also prevent you from being happy unless you’re in a romantic relationship.

Here are some ways limiting beliefs can show up with love.

  • Approval addiction: This shows up as the urge to be liked by everyone in order to feel valuable and worthwhile as a person. If someone doesn’t like you, you tend to feel extremely uncomfortable and even panicky.

  • Love addiction: You may feel worthless and unfulfilled unless you are in a romantic relationship. Unless you’re living out your dream romance with your dream partner, your life feels incomplete.

  • Fear of rejection: This is an excessive fear of putting yourself out there. You may feel a lot of pressure to be in a partnership, but you falsely believe that if someone doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, it means something about you and your worth.


Self-defeating beliefs about achievement can keep you from feeling worthwhile unless you’re always seen as perfect. It causes things like overworking and burnout, resentment in relationships and in your job, and difficulty maintaining boundaries.

  • Perfectionism: A lot of our clients struggle with self-limiting beliefs about perfectionism. You may feel like your value and worth in the world depend on you never making mistakes or failing.

  • Perceived perfectionism: If you’re a perfectionist, you don’t think you’ll be loved, accepted, or fully seen by others for being flawed and human.

  • Achievement addiction: This is when you tie your achievements to your self-worth. These achievements may be things like intelligence, financial status, talent, physical attributes, or other things that make you look successful in some way.

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One common denominator among almost all our clients is daily anxiety. If you experience anxiety, you know how all-consuming it is. Most people don’t realize that anxiety is fueled and strengthened by self-limiting beliefs. If your anxiety feels out of control, you likely struggle with some of the following defeating self-beliefs.

  • Emotional perfectionism: You feel the need to keep yourself and your emotions “positive,” even when they’re not. You think you should always feel happy and in control.

  • Anger phobia: Anger feels bad, wrong, or scary and you tamp it down whenever you feel it.

  • Emotophobia: This is also known as fear and avoidance of “negative” emotions. These include sadness, anxiety, jealousy, vulnerability, frustration, etc.

  • Perceived narcissism: The people you know and love seem overly demanding or manipulative.

  • Brushfire fallacy: You believe that if one person sees you in a negative light, that view will spread like wildfire and everyone in the world will soon see you like that.

  • Spotlight fallacy: This is the belief that you’re always performing; it feels like you’re on stage beneath a spotlight and everyone is watching and judging you.

  • Magical thinking: You believe that worrying enough about the right things will prevent bad things from happening.


Depression beliefs typically revolve around feeling like your problems are unsolvable and will persist forever.

  • Hopelessness: It feels like your problems are too big to be solved, and you feel like they never will be.

  • Worthlessness: You compare yourself to others and feel like you lack something or are inferior; everyone else seems worthier than you.


Self-limiting beliefs about submissiveness usually mean you’re worried about coming across as too strong or aggressive. You tend to take on the blame for problems caused equally by all parties in a relationship.

  • Pleasing others: You feel obligated not to rock the boat; you try to please everyone else, even if it hurts you.

  • Conflict phobia: conflict between you and anyone you’re close with feels dangerous and off-limits.

  • Self-blame: You assume you’re at fault for any and all of the difficulties in your relationships.


Limiting self-beliefs about demandingness tends to place other people in a morally inferior position to you. You have fairly low thoughts and opinions about others.

  • Other-blame: You assume the other person in a relationship is at fault for the difficulties you experience.

  • Entitlement: You expect to be treated a certain way, regardless of another person’s capacity or boundaries.

  • Truth: You assume you’re always right and that others are wrong.


The last type of self-defeating belief is anything that doesn’t fit neatly within the other categories.

  • Low frustration tolerance: You believe life should be easy and fun, and that you shouldn’t have to endure frustration or difficulties.

  • Superhero: You think weakness is wrong and that you should always be strong, competent, and capable.

Where Do Limiting Self-Beliefs Come From?

Limiting self-beliefs can arise from many places in our lives. Most of the time, these beliefs were formed when we were young as a way to keep us safe.

Your body and brain are incredible at adapting to survival situations whenever necessary. For instance, you may have been taught that you needed to keep yourself small and needless in order to be loved by the people around you. Maybe that’s why you have self-limiting beliefs around anxiety, love, or submissiveness.

Or perhaps your caretakers and teachers only gave you attention when you did something really well as a kid. In this case, you might have adopted perfectionism and achievement beliefs to keep yourself loved and safe.

Lots of areas of your life can impact your beliefs, especially when you’re young. Home life, media (including social media), and the places you grew up in (such as the schools you attended or whether you went to church) all profoundly impact your developing brain and belief system.

No matter what beliefs you have now, you can always change them for the better. Your brain is malleable and adapts constantly to new information. It takes work and patience, but over time, it’s possible to learn new and more helpful ways of thinking.

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Therapy For Teens Can Help You Understand Your Limiting Self-Beliefs.

In part two of this blog series, we’ll talk about how to overcome self-limiting beliefs in the long run.

While defeating self-beliefs protected you while you were young, they may not be very helpful anymore. In fact, they’re probably downright harmful in your life now. If you want support breaking old patterns that aren’t helpful anymore, you’re not alone. We’re here to help.

When you work with one of our licensed therapists, you’ll learn how to effectively recognize and change the beliefs that hold you back. Together, we’ll figure out where in your life you may hold faulty beliefs, and gently help reframe them to reflect truer and more helpful ways of thinking.

Feel free to get in touch with us for a free 15-minute phone consultation. We can answer any questions you have, see whether we’re a good fit, and start working toward a better future today.

Break Free From Your Limiting Self-Beliefs With The Help of Therapy for Teens in Manhattan, New York City, Brooklyn, and anywhere else in New York!

Empower your teen to break free from limiting self-beliefs with therapy for teens. Our specialized therapy program at Liz Morrison Therapy offers tailored support for teens struggling with self-doubt, helping them recognize and overcome these obstacles. Take the first step towards a brighter future for your teen by reaching out for guidance and support. Follow these three simple steps to get started:

1. Contact us to schedule an appointment for Therapy for Teens

2. Begin meeting with a skilled teen therapist

3. Stop limiting your self-beliefs!

Other Services Offered at Liz Morrison Therapy

At Liz Morrison Therapy, we offer services for the whole family. So in addition to supporting your teen with their mental health in therapy for teens, our services also include Parenting Support for those looking to create healthy relationships with their children to help them live their best lives, Young Adult Therapy for individuals looking for support, guidance, and real-world strategies to help them deal with their struggles, and Anxiety Therapy for those wanting to cope with their anxiety in healthy ways. For more about us check out our Blogs and FAQs


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