All About Limiting Beliefs
So what exactly are ‘limiting beliefs’?
Well, a limiting belief is ANY belief that you have that ‘limits’ your life in some way, or is in some way disadvantageous to you.
But what does this mean? Let me see if I can explain;
In order for human beings to ‘make sense’ of the world we inhabit, from an early age we create ‘codes’ that allow us to make sense of what we see and experience. These ‘codes’ can be referred to as ‘belief systems’ and we will tend to use them in the same way, until something happens that makes us consider ‘modifying’ or even ‘re-writing’ them – this usually occurs when we encounter ‘contradictory’ information, something that indicates that our belief system is in need of ‘tweaking’.
For example, what do you see on the right?
An old woman or a young ‘parisian’ woman?
I Believe in Santa Claus
OK, I don’t, but I certainly did some years ago.
When I think back to those ‘heady’ days of my childhood I can easily remember the ‘nights before Christmas’ when I tried to go to sleep filled with the excitement of all the lovely presents that Santa was going to deliver to the bottom of my bed the next day.
My belief in Santa created a whole range of ‘lovely and exciting’ emotions and I would definitely say that this particular belief system ‘benefited’ me.
Of course, I don’t believe in Santa anymore, so something had to have ‘happened’ for me to change my belief.
Well, what hapened was that when I was about 6 years old, a friend at school told me that Santa wasn’t real and that I should search around the house before Christmas to find where my Mum and Dad had hidden all the presents.
So that’s what I did and rather unsurprisingly (now) I found them under their bed, and from that moment on my belief system changed.
Because I had ‘discovered’ a piece of ‘evidence’ that was so contradictory to what I had previously believed, that I HAD to change my belief system completely!
But Believing in Santa is a Childish Belief System
That’s true, but actually a significant number of the belief systems that people ‘walk’ around with on a day-to-day basis are also ‘childish’, or at the very least, were ‘formed’ during childhood.
Examples of Limiting Beliefs
- Walking on the cracks in the pavement brings bad luck
- If it’s not perfect it’s not good enough
- People in authority should be feared
- Phobias can never be changed
- The only way I could be a millionaire is if I win the Lottery
- You should always think about the mistakes you make
- The Earth is FLAT not round – visit Flat Earth Society
- Lucky charms influence outcomes
- Getting things wrong is bad
- You must ALWAYS respect your elders
- You cannot change the path of your life
- People are always out to ‘get’ you
Are Some Limiting Beliefs More Important Than Others?
Despite the name ‘limiting beliefs’ there are some limiting beliefs that have very little impact on your day-to-day life, for example, “you should never wear brown shoes with black trousers” – it’s limiting because the underlying ‘idea’ behind this belief is that it will somehow ‘look wrong’ and that people observing this clothing ‘error’ will make a negative judgement about you.
The ‘reality’ is that the vast majority of people probably don’t care about your choice of shoe colour and it’s unlikely to to have any major negative impact on your life. Unless, that is, that you had a ‘boss’ who had the same belief and who fired you from your job for making this sartorial error. In which case, you have some real evidence to support this belief!
There are Three CORE Limiting Beliefs
Whilst the vast majority of limiting beliefs have very little day-to-day impact, the Thrive Programme specifically draws attention to THREE ‘core’ such beliefs that have the most SIGNIFICANT impact.
- Your ‘Locus of Control‘ – your sense of power over your own life
- Social Pressure – how much you worry about social judgement or what people think about you (also known as Social Anxiety)
- Self-Esteem – how you think about yourself
You can read more detail about each of these ‘core’ limiting beliefs by clicking on each phrase.
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