Limiting Self-Beliefs, Part 2: How to Overcome Your Negative Beliefs and Live the Life You Deserve
Limiting self-beliefs are beliefs that keep you from acting a certain way or pursuing a certain thing. These beliefs aren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes they help you set and maintain realistic goals. They might even prevent you from doing harmful or problematic things. For example, a limiting belief that keeps you from attempting to take over the world as an authoritarian dictator is probably a good thing. But when limiting beliefs keep you from achieving your life goals and desires, they become a problem.
In part one of this two-part blog series, we talked about the different kinds of limiting beliefs that might be holding you back. These include beliefs about love, relationships, career, achievements, anxiety, depression, and more. Self-limiting beliefs can infiltrate your whole life, impacting all you do and keeping you feeling stuck and unhappy.
Limiting beliefs can be sneaky. You’re likely being kept stuck by your negative limiting beliefs without even realizing it. You might have limiting beliefs about yourself that keep you from pursuing your goals because you think something is fundamentally wrong with you and that you aren’t good enough. Or you may have limiting beliefs that keep you feeling like you can’t do something because you don’t have permission from the outside world. And maybe you have limiting beliefs that prevent you from pursuing what you want because you assume those things are too hard and that you’re incapable of figuring it out.
So how do you actually move beyond these beliefs and live a fuller, more joyful, and more authentic life? Understanding how to work with and overcome your negative beliefs, changing your thoughts around them, and creating new beliefs can make all the difference.
How to Overcome Negative Self Beliefs
Your journey of overcoming negative self-beliefs is unique to you and may not look the same as it does for someone else. However, our licensed social workers have decades of cumulative experience helping clients through this process, and some things work well for almost everyone. Here are four steps to take to overcome your negative beliefs for good and start living a life aligned with your true desires.
Step 1: Acknowledge your limiting self-beliefs.
The first step to take when you’re trying to change any habit is to acknowledge the unwanted habit. The same goes for acknowledging your limiting self-beliefs. Notice when, where, and how these thoughts arise. Ask yourself:
Which limiting beliefs pop up most frequently for me? Is one more prevalent than the others, and if so, which one?
Do the limiting beliefs have a universal theme? If so, what might that theme be?
When do these thoughts arise?
Are there certain triggers that bring up negative beliefs more often than not?
What do these beliefs feel like for me? Do they show up a certain way in my body? How do they impact my mood and mental health?
Think of this type of work as detective work. In this step, you aren’t trying to change anything. You’re just an observer. Noticing when your beliefs come up – and when they’re the loudest – helps you gain a clearer understanding of your experiences and sets the stage for the rest of the work.
Step 2: Start to shift your thoughts around your self-limiting beliefs.
Once you feel you have a good understanding of when, where, and how your limiting self-beliefs show up in your life, start to slowly shift your thoughts around them.
For instance, if one of your common beliefs is that you’re unlovable and nobody will ever want to date you, pay attention the next time that thought arises. And then challenge it. Ask yourself: “Is this thought really true? What if I’m wrong? Do I have any evidence to the contrary? Is there a time I can think of from the recent past when I did feel lovable, even just a little?”
It’s okay if this feels awkward or difficult at first. You might want to journal about these thoughts, or talk with a trusted friend or therapist. Finding even a tiny grain of evidence against your limiting self-belief can make a huge difference. The idea is that challenging your habitual negative beliefs can make them lose their power over you. Building up an arsenal of evidence against these thoughts can shift your thoughts over time and make you realize that maybe there isn’t as much truth to them as you assumed.
Step 3: Cope with the root causes beneath your beliefs
Self-limiting beliefs don’t simply appear out of thin air. They always have an origin in your life – some time or place when you felt less than, or a situation that taught you to think less of yourself or the world around you. More often than not, multiple factors in your life lead to the development of limiting self-beliefs.
For instance, if you grew up in a family where you had to look or perform a certain way in order to receive love and affection, you probably learned that overachieving and people-pleasing was the only way to stay safe and cared for. Later in life, other experiences may have reinforced those beliefs. At school, for example, students are rewarded for having perfectionist, people-pleasing, and overachieving tendencies. And many work environments are similar. All these life experiences can add up and ultimately end up strengthening your negative beliefs without you even noticing.
In order to overcome negative self-beliefs, it’s helpful to find a safe and effective way to cope with the underlying root causes. Understanding how and why you got to where you are today can help you make the choices you need to move forward with intention and purpose.
Step 4: Create new beliefs.
Many of the steps to overcome limiting self-beliefs are easier said than done, and creating new beliefs is no different. This step is really challenging, especially at first. Let’s return to our example from step 2, where you believe you’re unlovable and nobody will ever want to date you.
Instead of taking this belief at face value, you can create an alternative belief – one that’s more accurate and more helpful. Maybe your alternative belief is that you have a lot to offer to the right partner, and that the right partner will have a lot to offer you in return. Or maybe your belief is that you’re not for everybody, and that’s okay – the things that make you deserving of love and care in a relationship are worth waiting for.
There’s no one right way to create new beliefs for yourself. Beliefs are deeply personal and take time to develop. It may take some trial and error before they start to stick. But with the right support, you can start to realize that the beliefs holding you back don’t need to keep you stuck – and you have the power to choose other routes.
Want Support Overcoming Your Limiting Self-Beliefs? Therapy Can Help.
At Liz Morrison Therapy, our goal is to help free you from your defeating self-beliefs and live the life you want. When you work with one of our licensed therapists, you’ll learn how to acknowledge and shift the beliefs that keep you stuck. Together, we’ll figure out where in your life these beliefs may be cropping up, how you can effectively challenge them, and come up with alternative beliefs that serve you.
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.