Self-limiting beliefs not only act as our prison, but they also turn us into the prison guard. We accept these limitations gracefully because there seems to be so much compelling evidence to support them. It might never occur to us that this evidence is completely biased, so we can remain trapped indefinitely.
Staying in our comfort zone doesn’t really sound all that bad at first. It brings to mind an image of lying on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The problem is that ‘comfort zone’ is a bit of a misnomer. The perceived comfort is an illusion. I think it would be more honest to call it the ‘maximum misery we are prepared to put up with to avoid change zone’.
What Are Self Limiting Beliefs?
I’m no good in social situations.
I’m incapable of learning how to play the guitar.
I’m not intelligent enough to go to university.
I don’t have the personality to become an entrepreneur.
I’m always going to struggle to get by in life.
I’m an alcoholic.
I’ll never get married because I can’t hold down a steady relationship.
All of these are examples of self-limiting beliefs, and they are all things I’ve believed about myself at one time or another.
The Prison Created by Self-limiting Beliefs
These self-limiting beliefs act like filters in our brain. It means that we look for evidence to support the belief and ignore anything that contradicts it. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say that I’ve developed the belief that I’m a lousy writer. If somebody comes along and says anything even vaguely negative about my writing, I’m going to consider this strong evidence to support my belief. If another person comes along and says they love what I’ve written, I’m going to believe that they are being insincere or secretly mocking me. I’ll count this as further evidence that I suck.
Self-limiting beliefs are constantly attracting new evidence to strengthen them, and this is what makes them such a formidable foe.
The beliefs we hold about ourselves determines how we experience the world. If you want to live a better life, you just need to find a better set of beliefs.
How to Escape Self-Limiting Beliefs
Self-limiting beliefs are powerful, but it is definitely possible to overcome them. The way I’ve been able to do this is by becoming sceptical about all of my beliefs. I’ve basically decided that all beliefs are bullshit – they are just an attempt to translate this mysterious thing we call ‘being alive’ into something our brains can process.
Some beliefs may be closer to the truth than others, but none of them are ultimately true. We need beliefs to function in the world, but they are always going to be limiting us in one way or another. They are a necessary evil. The important thing is we don’t allow the particularly nasty beliefs we have picked up from destroying our life – I’d include self-limiting beliefs in this category.
The key to escaping self-limiting beliefs is to investigate them to see if they can withstand proper scrutiny. I find it much easier to do this type of work on paper. I know that my mind is going be biased towards supporting this belief, so I use the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach – this adds a bit of fairness to the proceedings.
Letting go of self-limiting beliefs is probably the most liberating thing you can do. It can cause your world to instantly change for the better – everything seems different. Eradicating just one self-limiting belief can send positive ripples into every corner of your life – you are never the same afterwards.