Following a few technical glitches in my Facebook Live video today I said I would post a more detailed answer on the subject of limiting beliefs here.
So what is a limiting belief? A belief is something you consider to be true, either by assumption, experience, or passed on through others. If a belief you hold about yourself or a situation is holding you back in your life in some way, then this may be a limiting belief.
The limiting beliefs I work with most often in coaching tend to relate to people’s beliefs about themselves or things that they want to do, and are often quite deeply rooted, having been held for a long time. For example:
- I’m not good enough
- I always fail
- I’ll never have money
- I wouldn’t be able to ….
- I’ll never meet the right person for me
- I’m not confident
- I always mess things up
- I can’t trust people
- People always let me down
- I can’t do …as well as other people
Do you see how these beliefs could have a negative impact on someone’s life or relationships? Have you noticed how many of them contain absolutes such as ‘never’ or ‘always’? So not only are these beliefs stated as facts, but the use of ‘always’ or ‘never’ suggests that the person has lots of evidence or experience to prove that their belief is true.
There are lots of different ways that coaches, therapists and other practitioners would work with someone on their limiting beliefs, and this may vary according to the client’s specific situation.
One way of working on this would be to look specifically at what brings that belief to the surface, there’s usually a particular situation that brings it up. We would then look deeper into the belief to find what it’s really about, as beliefs may be about our capabilities or our identity, or something else. I usually explore with the client what have been the consequences of them holding this belief. What has it, or will it, prevent them from doing or being.
Often there is a subconcious reason why people hold on to these beliefs, and it can sometimes be about staying safe. For example I worked with a client who believed that she failed at everything. The consequence of this was that she didn’t complete things that she started (job applications, training courses, life goals), because she ‘knew’ she would fail, so what was the point in trying. Can you see how this behaviour, of not completing things, was both giving her the evidence to back up her belief because she didn’t succeed at anything she started, and it was also keeping her safe because if she didn’t see things through to completion, if she didn’t try, there was never the risk of actually failing?
Through the coaching process we would work on disputing that evidence, and also creating a new and more empowering belief which would help the client move forward, but not before we also looked at what was being gained by holding on to the limiting belief.
I hope this clarifies what limiting beliefs are all about, how they impact our lives, and the reasons why this happens. If you have any questions you can send me an email or post in the Facebook group. You can join here