5 Top Tips to Identify and Challenge Limiting Beliefs

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We all have many beliefs about ourselves and others.

These beliefs can be be positive or negative, ie limiting.

So what do we mean by a belief ?

A belief is a statement that we have come to believe almost as if it is a truth.

So, say that your maths teacher told you that you were no good at maths and put you in the remedial group. As a child you probably accepted the adult’s statement as true. Every time you made a mistake in maths class you would have subconsciously added this to your collection of supporting evidence. You then grew up telling yourself and others that you were no good at maths without stopping to realise that this was simply a belief, not a truth.

We all like to be right and when we believe something it can be difficult to accept that our belief is not in fact true. Take for example, people’s different beliefs about politics or religion !

What we tend to do is constantly look for evidence to support and reinforce our belief systems, even if they are beliefs that no longer serve us.

From a personal development point of view, a negative belief that we hold about ourself or someone close to us can limit our opportunities for growth and happiness.

Below, are 5 simple tips to begin to eradicate the power of your limiting beliefs and to set you on the path to personal growth.

  1. Identify your limiting beliefs.
    Notice what kind of statements that you make about yourself and your abilities or about your loved ones. Some common examples might be ‘I am not very clever’ or ‘I’m too old to do X,Y or Z’ or about another person it might be ‘She is selfish’. Take your time to consider as many negative beliefs as you can and jot them down on a piece of paper.
  2. Identify the Origins of The Beliefs.
    Now, make 5 columns on your piece of paper with each limiting belief in the left hand column. In the second column, write down when you first remember having this belief and who it came from. Take your time with this, it can be a revelation to realise that this belief came from someone else’s remarks to us.
  3. Consider the Opposite Belief.
    Consider each belief in turn and in the third column, write down the exact opposite belief. So for example, ‘I am too old to…’ becomes ‘I am young enough to…’ or ‘I am not very clever’ becomes ‘I am clever’. You might find that your beliefs are so ingrained and powerful that you are reluctant to do this, after all, in your head your beliefs have become truths and who wants to argue with an absolute truth! Go ahead and do it anyway even if at this point it feels odd.
  4. Evidence to Support Your New Statement.
    The fourth column is where we start to undo the knot that is our view of our belief systems. For each positive alternative I want you to look for supporting evidence. So, using ‘I am young enough to…’ as an example, list all the things that people of your age have been able to do and achieve. For ‘I am clever’, list all the things that you have learnt in your lifetime, everything from tying your own shoelaces to using a mobile phone – this will be a long list!
  5. Turning the New Statements into Beliefs.
    Now in Column 5, write down one small thing that you can do in the coming weeks to prove your new positive belief statement. This column can form the basis of your ongoing action plan to challenge your limiting beliefs repeatedly until they fade away and your new beliefs become the ‘truths’.

It really is incredibly powerful and liberating to realise that the negative things we think about ourselves are just habitual thought patterns that have no basis in reality. Their only substance has come from our supporting evidence collection over the years. What we haven’t done is collected evidence for the opposite of our beliefs even though it was out there. After all, it goes counter to human nature to collect evidence for something that we don’t believe !

Now that you understand this though, you can continue to build your evidence collection for your new positive belief statement. This won’t happen over night, it can take time to turn this statement into an actual belief but just know that it will become firmer as you create more opportunities to evidence it.

If you find this exercise difficult to do on your own then why not enlist the services of a Life-Coach or a Counsellor to help you.

I can be contacted at info@lesleygormanlifecoach.co.uk to arrange either a face to face or a telephone coaching session.

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