You know the voice in your head that says you can’t do something right before you’re about to take action? You’ve talked yourself up for something, reminded yourself of all the reasons that you’re qualified, and then just before you’re about to go on stage, walk into the boardroom, or press record… a sneaky voice comes in telling you why you’re too old, too young, too much, too little.
Keep reading because today you are going to learn how to suss out those limiting beliefs and reframe them into more empowering self-talk that serves you.
What Is a Limiting Belief?
A limiting belief is any self-talk that makes you feel less than you are, makes you play small, holds you back, keeps you stuck, or just plain makes you feel bad.
If you have limiting beliefs, you’re not doing anything wrong… we ALL have them from time to time. The trick is to catch them and replace them with a better belief that empowers you.
Why Do Limiting Beliefs Matter?
The reason why this is so critical is because:
BELIEFS lead to ACTIONS, which leads to the RESULTS you get out of life.
You can end up in two completely different lives because of your beliefs.
If you have a limiting belief that makes you feel bad about yourself, that belief is going to cause you to take different actions than you would if you had a belief that empowered you and made you feel brilliant and strong and capable. And THAT is going to change your experiences and results in your life.
For example, if you have a limiting belief about being able to get a job that you want, you might not even apply. As a result, you will definitely not get that dream job, because you never even applied for it! You might even stay in a job that you hate, siphoning years of your energy and inspiration away, not even knowing what your life could have been with that dream career where you traveled across the world or made the impact you wanted to.
Conversely, imagine that you have a more empowering belief. If you have the belief that the hiring manager at the dream job is going to LOVE you, then you apply with confidence, walk into the interview like you deserve to be there, are more likely to get the job, and can then climb the ladder to a senior executive with a high-paying salary and the power to influence major decision… your whole life is so different simply because of a starting BELIEF.
How to Reframe Limiting Beliefs
So how do you go about sussing out the beliefs that don’t serve you and replace them with ones that do? Here’s a practice I like to follow.
First, choose one area of your life that feels just like a little off. Maybe you feel like you’re not getting anywhere or are just a little stuck. Maybe you feel like you keep WANTING to take action, but something always holds you back.
Great, that’s the perfect area to start with.
Second, write a list, stream of consciousness, of all the beliefs you have about yourself or your abilities in that area. There is no specific number. Just keep going for 10 minutes and see what comes up.
Third, choose one of the juiciest beliefs you want to work with from that list. There is no right belief to work with. Just choose one that stands out to you that you feel called to reframe. (The reason you start with ONE is that it can feel a little overwhelming to look at them ALL at once. But over time, you can work through each one.)
Fourth, reframe the belief to one that SERVES you.
For example, if you have a limiting belief like, “I can’t do this,” maybe your reframe is, “I’ve done many hard things and this is another one I’ll figure out.”
If your limiting belief was, “I’m bad at this,” then maybe your reframe is, “I am learning every day. I am getting better every day.”
Feels a lot better, right? It makes you believe that you’re in control and you can do this.
What You Have to Understand About Beliefs
Here’s the thing about beliefs. Most of us believe the voices in our own heads as if they’re the objective truth. Most of us believe our politics, religious views, moral convictions, or even sports teams are THE right way and best way.
However, BELIEFS are not necessarily the TRUTH.
They’re just what your brain has found the most evidence for.
For example, if you feel like you always get nervous on stage, then the next time you’re about to do any public speaking, your brain is going to think back to kindergarten, first grade, high school, and college… and ANY time that you have spoken before, to reaffirm that belief that you get flustered.
Eventually, your brain stops even searching for evidence to the contrary. It stops looking at the other potential beliefs because it’s collected so much evidence in favor of one side.
So, the last step is to take your better belief and make a list of all the reasons why it’s TRUE.
For example, if your belief was, “I can’t do this,” and you reframed it to, “I’ve done many hard things and this is another one I’ll figure out,” then list 50 reasons why that’s true. List 50 things you’ve done that were hard that you figured out. 50 times people counted on you and you came through. 50 times when you were tired and you still made it to the appointment or the interview. 50 big and small reasons that support this new, more empowering belief.
Because at first, that belief isn’t going to be very strong. You won’t have much evidence for it. But the more evidence you list, the more your brain will start saying, “Wow, this IS kind of true about me.” And it’s going to weaken that other limiting belief that, 10 minutes ago, felt more true and powerful.
The reason I suggest 50 pieces of evidence is because at first your brain is going to go, “I only have only like 3 things that I can think of.” So you want to ANTICIPATE that and stretch yourself because OF COURSE your brain hasn’t collected very much evidence for this new belief. That’s why you even have the limiting one to begin with! So you really want to push yourself to think of every little tiny way that this new supportive belief is true.
Lastly, reframing the belief once is nice, but what really begins to make it your new reality is repeating that new belief all the time. Put it on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or as a reminder on your phone that pops up every few hours. Repeat it to yourself as often as you can.
At first, your brain will try to undermine you and go back to what’s comfortable — your old limiting belief. But watch as, over time, the more you repeat this new belief, and the more you LOOK for evidence supporting it, your brain gets on board and suddenly you start to believe this new belief MORE than the old crusty one.
And THAT is how you reframe a limiting belief. Identify it, reframe it, support it, and repeat it. Then just watch how your brain — and your LIFE — changes beautifully as a result.
It’ll feel like magic. But you’ll know it started with you.
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