4 Types of Limiting Beliefs and How to Start Identifying Them

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Last year I started a private resilient community Facebook group for those who joined my Resilience Reflex course during the pilot phase. Every Thursday I’d live stream a short lesson to the members of the group. Note: I learned about beliefs during my coaching certification classes in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) at the NLP Institute of California.

Belief about Cause

These are beliefs where we believe that there’s a specific “cause” creating the belief. These limiting beliefs usually have the word “because” in them. Have you caught yourself saying, “This is true because...”

For Example:

  • I can’t do any public speaking because I stutter (or because I’m shy).
  • I’ll never be successful in a business because my parents weren’t successful.
  • I can never start a business now because the economy is bad.

Many people have this idea about wealth and the ceiling they can reach. Some common beliefs around wealth are:

  • I can never be wealthy because I don’t know how to have so much money.
  • I can’t be wealthy because others will depend on me.
  • I can’t be wealthy because I don’t deserve it.

Belief About Meaning

As human beings, we don’t know how to be. All we know how to do is think, think, think and make meaning about anything or find meaning in things that happen.

Have you walked down a street and someone happens to look at you differently? Did you try to make meaning out of that? Why did she look at me that way?

The meanings that we put on these types of beliefs will guide your behavior.

For Example:

  • I’m a woman that means I’ll never be able to lead. This can have several meanings: it’s difficult to climb the ladder if you’re woman OR women make poor leaders.
  • Too much wealth makes people behave differently. This can have several meanings: being rich means you lose friends OR if you become wealthy you’ll change.
  • Change is very challenging. This can have several layers of meaning associated with it.

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Belief About Possibility

Here there are two categories:

  1. The outcome is possible for you: If the outcomes is possible, then you’ll go for it and you’ll get the desired outcome. Some questions you ask yourself to get permission from your subconscious, “Do I have what it takes? Can I do it?”

  2. The outcome is impossible for you: If the outcome is impossible, then you’ll not even bother trying to go for it. In fact, you’ll just give up ahead of time.

For Example:

  • I’ll never get a promotion.
  • I’ve had very little success in meeting a partner.
  • Cooking is not for me, I mess it up all the time.
  • I’ve tried it all, nothing works.

Belief About Identity

These beliefs revolve around your worthiness. Do I deserve this? These beliefs usually start with “I am” or have words that make the statement very personal.

For Example:

  • I’m not worth it.
  • I don't deserve this.
  • I'm not smart enough to be successful.
  • I don't have it in me to be resilient.

In chapter 16 of my book, The Resilience Reflex, I’ve outlined the steps to change an old limiting belief to a new empowering one. However, I’ve outlined the steps briefly below:

  1. Identify a limiting belief.

  2. Identify the positive intention of this belief by asking:
    1. What am I trying to gain by holding on to this limiting belief?
    2. What will achieving that (answer from a) do for me?

  3. Counter/bust your old limiting belief using these questions:
    1. Is my old limiting belief objectively true?
    2. Is this belief always true for me?
    3. Is this belief always true for everyone?
    4. Would I teach it to my children?
    5. What kind of behaviours will I have if I continue to hold on to this belief?
    6. What would my mentor tell me about this limiting belief?

  4. Identify your new empowering belief, which is usually the opposite of the old limiting belief. Visualize yourself in the future with this new empowering belief. Ask:
    1. What am I doing differently?
    2. What new behaviours do I have?
    3. Is there evidence from my past that supports this new empowering belief?

  5. State your new empowering belief out aloud a few times.

Let me know in the comments what you thought about this exercise and I’d love to know your new empowering belief.

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