We all have them - those self-limiting beliefs that keep us from achieving our goals and living our best lives. Those voices inside our heads that tell us we’re not good enough or capable of reaching for the stars. In this article, we'll explore the top 10 self-limiting beliefs and how to let them go for good.
We'll also discuss how to change limiting beliefs. But first, what is a limiting belief and how do you know if you have any?
What is a limiting belief?
A limiting belief is a false or negative belief you hold about yourself. They are bad because they’re a type of core belief that can prevent you from reaching your full potential by keeping you in a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset.
For instance, when you have self-limiting beliefs, you may not even try to achieve your goals because you don't believe that you can. It may become a self-fulfilling prophecy where you end up not achieving anything because you didn't believe that you could.
To reach your full potential, it’s crucial to identify and change limiting beliefs and acquire a new belief system. Once you do this, you’ll be able to see what’s truly possible for you. Your state of mind will be different and your behavior will change.
What are the top 10 self-limiting beliefs and how do you change them?
Now that you know what this type of thinking is, let's talk about the top 10 self-limiting beliefs. Plus how to overcome limiting beliefs like the ones listed below!
1. "I can't do this."
“I can’t do this” is a negative thought that often stems from being overly critical about yourself. You may hold yourself to incredibly high standards or have anxiety about not being able to do something absolutely perfectly.
The first step to overcoming this top 10 self-limiting belief is to take a step back and pause for a moment. Understand that you’re capable of more than you give yourself credit for.
Everyone has moments of doubt, but it’s possible to push through these moments and continue moving forward.
When you begin thinking, "I can't do this," try to counter that thought with a positive affirmation like "I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to." This will boost your self-esteem and remind you that you can accomplish great things.
2. "I'm not worthy of love."
Believing you’re not worthy of love is a form of toxic shame that can stem from neglect, abuse, or nefarious actions you took in the past that you now regret.
This one is tough, but it's so important. If you don't believe you're worthy of love, you'll never let anyone truly love you. You'll push people away, or you'll settle for relationships that are less than what you deserve.
The first step to overcoming this belief is to change the internal dialogue you’re having with yourself. Cultivate a more compassionate “you” who forgives your former self for any and all of your past mistakes or experiences. Then, you can begin to heal.
It might take time, but eventually, you'll start to believe it. And when you do, you'll be able to let love in.
3. “I don’t deserve this.”
This top 10 self-limiting belief is a form of self-deprecation that often comes from feelings of insecurity or unworthiness. And if left untreated, it might turn into self-sabotage that can unravel every part of your life — from your relationships to your career.
There are several tricks and tools you can use to overcome limiting beliefs like this. One of my favorites is keeping a journal of all the things you’ve accomplished in your life.
When you feel you don’t deserve something, the journal can serve as a reminder of why you do deserve it.
4. "I'm not ready yet."
Imposter syndrome is real. It convinces you that you’re a fraud or that you’re not quite ready to chase your dreams. That you just need to learn a *little bit more* to be taken seriously.
But the truth is, very few people ever feel completely "ready” to start something new. If you believe that you aren't ready, you could miss out on new opportunities and life experiences.
The key is to take baby steps. Rather than focusing on perfection, just focus on taking action. Give yourself permission to figure things out as you go.
5. "This is too hard."
When you encounter difficulties in life, it can be tempting to give up and believe that things are just too hard. Which can become one of the top 10 self-limiting beliefs. But nothing worth having comes easy.
If you want to achieve your goals — whether it’s paying off student loan debt, learning to invest, or finding a higher paying job — you need to be willing to put in the hard work required to reach them.
When you catch yourself thinking, "this is too hard," try to remind yourself that you’re capable of handling anything that comes your way. Doing so will help you change your perceptions and overcome challenges.
6. "I can't change."
You may have this belief as a result of feeling stuck in a certain situation. Maybe you've been in a job you hate for years and you believe that you can't make a change. Or perhaps you're in a relationship that isn't fulfilling and you believe that you can't leave.
The truth is, you constantly have the power to change your life if you're willing to take the necessary steps. If you want to make a change, start by taking small steps in the right direction.
Over time, you'll build up the confidence and courage to make bigger changes.
7. "I don't have enough _____." (money, resources, knowledge, etc.)
This is another top 10 self-limiting belief that can take many different forms. Maybe you believe you don't have enough money, time, or resources. But this sort of thinking can prevent you from taking action and achieving your goals.
To overcome this belief, try to focus on what you do have and how you can use it to your advantage.
For example, if you believe you don't have enough money to save, adopt some frugal living tips to free up room in your budget.
8. "I'm not good at _____." (fill in the blank with anything... relationships, parenting, my job, managing money, etc.)
Listen... everyone has something they're not good at — even the most influential people in the world. But that doesn't mean you can't get better at whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Instead of saying, "I'm not good at managing money," for example, say, "I'm not good at managing money... yet. But I'm getting there."
When you just say, "I'm not good" (period), you slam the door in your face. You write yourself off and convince yourself things can never get better.
But when you add the word "yet" at the end, you give space to opportunity. You become a student, willing and ready to learn what it takes to improve. And it can make all the difference if you want to overcome limiting beliefs.
9. "I don't have time for this."
How many times have you told yourself, "I don't have time for _____."? Maybe you believe you don't have time to work out, cook healthy meals, or pursue your hobbies.
It's one of the top 10 self-limiting beliefs that holds a lot of people back from living really fulfilling lives.
The truth is, you can make time for anything you want. It might take some effort and planning, but it's totally possible. So instead of saying, "I don't have time for this," say, "I'm going to make time for this."
10. "I don't know how to _____." (fill in the blank with anything... be happy, change my life, make friends, etc.)
First of all, you're not alone. Many people feel like they don't know how to do something... especially when it comes to audacious things like finding happiness, changing your life for the better, or navigating motherhood as a shy mom.
Fortunately, you have options. Read self-help books, ask questions, see a therapist... do whatever it takes to find the answers you're looking for.
And remember, it's okay to not have all the answers right away. Just take it one day at a time, and eventually, you'll figure out what works for you.
How to change limiting beliefs
Now you know the correct answer to, "what is a limiting belief?" If you want to change any of these top 10 self-limiting beliefs, give these exercises a try. It’ll help you identify which thoughts may be holding you back so you can chart a path forward.
1. Recognize when you have any of these top 10 self-limiting beliefs
The first step to overcoming self-limiting beliefs is to acknowledge that you have them. It could seem obvious, but some people are not even aware of the negative beliefs they hold about themselves.
A limiting beliefs exercise like this could be as simple as pausing every time you have a negative thought or emotion, then writing it down in a journal or in a note on your phone so you can evaluate it.
You can also write down positive thoughts that you want to start believing. When we write things down, over time we can make these good beliefs part of our identity.
2. Pinpoint where the top 10 self-limiting beliefs originated from
Once you’ve acknowledged that you have a top 10 self-limiting belief, it’s time to pinpoint where it's originating from. Oftentimes, self-limiting beliefs are rooted in our past experiences.
For example, if you believe that you’re not good at managing money, it’s possible this belief originated from a negative experience you had in the past.
Maybe you ran up a high balance on your credit card in college or took out a predatory personal loan without reading the terms. These types of experiences can lead to the development of self-limiting beliefs.
3. Question the validity of these top 10 self-limiting beliefs
Once you have pinpointed where the belief originated from, the next limiting beliefs exercise is to question the validity of the belief. You cannot skip this step because it allows you to see that the belief may not be true.
For example, let's say that you believe you’re bad at eating healthy and exercise. You may have had a negative experience in the past that led to the development of this belief. However, this doesn’t mean the belief is true.
Maybe you’re good at fitness, but in college you had a very busy schedule and lots of commitments that kept you from spending time on your health. But now, you work out several times a week and try to eat balanced meals.
These are examples of how you can question the validity of a self-limiting belief.
4. Reframe these top 10 self-limiting beliefs
A great way to overcome these top 10 self-limiting beliefs is to reframe the belief. The reframing step is important because it allows you to see the situation in a new light.
For example, let's say you believe you’re not good at budgeting. You can reframe this belief by telling yourself that you’re not good at budgeting currently because you haven't made a budget before, but you will become good at it with practice.
Or, you can tell yourself that you know how to organize your money, and you look forward to welcoming more of it into your life. Which is an empowering belief that can help you change the narrative.
These are both called positive affirmations, and they're perfect for combating negative beliefs.
5. Practice believing in yourself to overcome the top 10 self-limiting beliefs
After you’ve reframed your limiting belief, it’s time to put it into practice. You can coach yourself to have a better mindset. Which is great for your mental health and will allow you to combat those negative thoughts.
Give yourself grace and compassion, and repeat your positive affirmations every time you start to doubt yourself as a limiting beliefs exercise. Another way to “practice believing in yourself” is to do things that are outside of your comfort zone.
For example, if you want to become a better saver, sign up for a savings challenge. Or, if you want to become a better writer, start a blog.
The sky is the limit when it comes to practicing new beliefs. Just make sure that you take actionable steps that will help you move closer to your goal.
You can overcome the top 10 self-limiting beliefs and think positively!
Self-limiting beliefs can hold us back from achieving our goals and reaching our full potential. However, when you follow this guide, you will overcome limiting beliefs and start living the life you want to live!