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What's really holding you back?


My name is Ali and ...

·         I look like a show-off and make people feel inadequate when I talk about my   successes

·         I'm rubbish at sports and uncoordinated

·         I'm disorganised and slapdash

These are some of my limiting beliefs. Beliefs that potentially hold me back from doing great things.

We all have them and today we're going to dig into what they are, how we can identify them and what we can do about them. And I tell you what ... they are PESKY.

What is a limiting belief?

A limiting belief is something that you tell yourself is true, that holds you back in some way and stops you from doing stuff. It is a belief rather than a hard fact and it is usually negative. It comes up a LOT in coaching.

Common limiting beliefs are things like:

·         Nothing ever goes right for me

·         I'll never get promoted

·         I'm unlovable

·         I can't lose weight

·         I can't be my real self or I'll be judged

·         I'm not as good as other people

I could go on ...

Where do limiting beliefs come from?

Each person has their own unique set of limiting beliefs which tend to come from our past, will often have a triggering event and are then confirmed and reinforced (seemingly) by other things that happen to us.

So for example, my limiting belief about not "showing off" came from a school report when I was about 8. My teacher wrote that I "looked down on my peers". I didn't even know what the words meant and had to ask my Mum. It stuck in my head.

Years later I had a close friend who always wanted to compete with me. She wasn't happy with her results unless they were better than mine. One day her mother told me off: "Just because you think you're better than her, you don't have to make her feel so bad". It stuck in my head and reinforced the triggering event.

There were probably many other instances in my early years where my brain scanned for proof that this belief was true and actively noticed any data that categorically proved my limiting belief.

How can you identify your limiting beliefs?

If you don't want your limiting beliefs to hold you back, then you need to identify them. Sometimes it's hard to access them and to articulate them because they have become so much a part of our belief system. Here are some reflective questions that may help you to uncover your limiting beliefs:

·         What activities do you avoid doing? What's holding you back from doing those activities?

·         What rules do you have about your own or other people's behaviour? Where does that rule come from?

·         Is there a voice in your head that tells you that you can't do things? What does it tell you not to do? Why?

·         What labels do you or have you worn? (eg perfectionist, procrastinator, day-dreamer...)

·         Based on these reflective questions what beliefs do you hold about yourself?

·         Which of these beliefs are empowering?

·         Which or these beliefs are limiting?

How can I work with or around my limiting beliefs?

Your beliefs drive your actions which in turn drive your results. Through coaching, we want to reduce the influence of your limiting beliefs in order for you to be able to create different actions and, consequently, different results.

Here are some example coaching questions which would help you address your limiting beliefs:

·         What is your limiting belief?

·         Is it true?

·         Is it helpful?

·         Was it true once?

·         Where did it come from (and how reliable was the source)?

·         If you dispelled this belief for good, what would that enable you to do?

And what about Ali's limiting beliefs?

Well, unsurprisingly, I have done some work on my limiting beliefs. The first one I have changed the language from "showing off" to "sharing my expertise for the benefit of others". The second one I have come to see is untrue (although I don't like sports that much anyway!). The third, I have reframed to see that although I'm not naturally organised, I CAN be organised and plan in advance using other people's systems and tools - and rather than being "slapdash", I am "spontaneous"...!

I hope that helps you to start to think about your limiting beliefs - a meaty subject. If you'd like to explore yours a bit further, book a free 45 minute Discovery Call here.

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