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The Truth About Self-Limiting Beliefs

By Larry Agresto

The good news is that we all experience self-limiting beliefs; the bad news is, that's right, we all have self-limiting beliefs. There's more good news though - we can do something about them.

Limiting beliefs have a method to their madness, they keep us safe, safe from ever having to take a risk or making a mistake. If you've noticed, we really believe that little birdie in our head that keeps saying, you can't do that, don't try that, you're not good enough, smart enough, and so on.

It seems that when ever we initiate change in our life or take on a new challenge, we often encounter limiting beliefs. The emotions that get triggered are negative ones such as fear, anger or sadness. What happens is you come face-to-face with old programs that were created early in your life. If you're not conscious of your behavior, you'll repeat those old negative patterns and then be wondering - why?

I've found that often, we're not even cognizant that a limited belief is just a limited belief. Because it's become a habit, we accept it as reality, as if it's the way things have to be. We may think we are creating our limiting beliefs in the present, when actually they originate from past events and behavioral patterns. In the moment, we forget that we have a choice, a choice to choose a different belief. Basically, as soon as we step into the world of limiting beliefs, we step into our past.

Most limited beliefs are created in the developmental stages of childhood. As a result, studies have proven that most people are products of their environment. From the family unit, to how we're parented, to teachers, coaches, friends, church and our community. All of these relationships play a role in who we become and how we interpret the world. If you are raised or parented in a culture of limited belief, this will certainly influence the lens through which you see the world. This is how and when an individual begins to develop their self-image.

As you mature into a young adult, you don't see a world of unlimited possibilities, rather a world of limitation. As a child in any environment, whether it's home, school, socially or athletically, if you're told often enough that you can't do something, eventually you will learn to believe it. At the developmental stage of childhood, the mind is like a sponge, eager to soak up as much knowledge and new information as possible. The mind will soak up what it sees, hears or is told to believe over time, even if negative in nature.

Based on a lack of maturity and experience, a child can't be held responsible if he or she isn't able to distinguish between a positive affirmation and a limiting belief. Until you become aware as an adult that these limitations exist, you can not and will not make any effort to change them. You must first understand why you limit yourself as you do, so you can choose a new choice, a new possibility.

What you believe is your truth. Basically, thoughts are things - whatever you think, will create your reality. The thought can be based on either truth or a limiting belief. This scenario is what is responsible for individuals either over or under achieving in life. If you believe you can't, you probably won't, if you believe you can, you probably will.

Limiting beliefs initiate with old programs that influence our behavior, which are basically our habits. The first step in altering our limiting beliefs is to be aware of them. Once we are, we can now begin to discipline our thoughts and behavior, which will allow us to change our actions. Change the inside, your thoughts and you change the outside, your results.

Consider the fact that we have the ability to create consciously what we choose to in any present moment. When we accept our self-limiting beliefs as reality, we are actually giving away our power to create. Often, the reason why we give away this power so readily and accept limiting beliefs as reality, is because it s what we know. But if you can summon the discipline of awareness, you can create the world of your choosing; a world of unlimited possibilities.

I'll leave you with the fact that no belief is caste in stone. Any belief can be altered if you focus on changing it through discipline, repetition and meditation. Here are a few simple techniques that you can use to change your self-limited beliefs...

  • Realize that we all have limited beliefs
  • Understand that you did not create them intentionally
  • Realize that you can permanently change any belief and associated habits in 21 days
  • To start, be present and aware of who you're being, i.e. your beliefs
  • Ask yourself if what I believe about myself is serving me and my life
  • If the answer is no, then commit to change that specific belief

Replace the limited belief with a positive affirmation of why you believe in yourself and what you choose to achieve. Continue this process a minimum of twice a day for 21 days. At that point, you will begin to realize a permanent change in your belief system.

Copyright © 2008 Larry Agresto, Peak Performance Coaching
Larry Agresto is both the Founder and a Life & Success Coach at Peak Performance Coaching in Boston. Larry provides one-on-one coaching for clients based on his four Coaching Programs: Stepping Stones to Change, The Path to Change, The Journey and the Breakthrough Program. He also provides group coaching sessions and seminars to organizations and businesses.
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