People who have strong self-limiting beliefs often find evidence in support of what they believe. The more they search for limits, the more they find them.
If you find yourself in this description, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone constrains their potential in some way. But people who grow and expand find ways to overcome their imagined limitations.
Let’s cheer for a new growth mindset that will help you overcome the top 10 self-limiting beliefs people face and to learn new skills to help your team do the same.
What Are Self-Limiting Beliefs?
Self-limiting beliefs are judgments or opinions about our own and other people’s strengths and capabilities that restrict us from taking action and reaching success and potential. Limiting beliefs are your worst internal enemy that:
- Keep you stuck in a negative thinking loop
- Prevent you from seeing new opportunities
- Lead to self-sabotaging behavior
Self-limiting beliefs are created unconsciously and can keep you in a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is full of worries, assumptions, judgments, fears, and perfectionistic thinking. Unconscious bias (also called implicit bias), which is stereotypical thinking about people and situations outside our conscious awareness has a lot to do with maintaining self-limiting beliefs.
If you are not aware you call yourself an idiot, how can you meet your inner genius?
Top 10 Self-Limiting Beliefs at Work (Examples+ Worksheet)
Creating alternative beliefs and challenging your current ones by taking action despite your assessed readiness levels is a good way to tackle negative self-beliefs all at once.
1. I’m not good enough.
The “not-good-enough” belief is the most toxic one of all. It is the root cause of perfectionistic thinking and keeps you feeling worthless regardless of your accomplishments. You can always be better than your current version, learn more, take an extra class, and expand. But when you don’t feel ready all the time, you are chasing rainbows. Developing a smart growth routine with many small goals that lead to a large goal is a healthy way to beat the self-defeating belief of insufficiency.
2. I don’t have the time.
“I want to start that side hustle.”
“I need an addition to my team. “
“I need to rethink my strategy.”
“I want to write that book.”
“I don’t have the time.”
The opinion that you lack time is a sign that you are not working intelligently with the only resource that is not infinite. You don’t make the maximum of your time. However, the belief that you don’t have enough time usually stems from poor goal setting and as a result, poor decision-making that keeps you overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out.
Improving your time management skills with timeboxing can help you:
- Fight procrastination
- Identify self-limiting beliefs about time
- Stop sabotaging your success by working on easy but unimportant tasks first.
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3. I don’t have the resources.
This belief can also be expressed as “I have no money to do that.” or “You have to have money to make money.”
Money is made by starting, taking action, course-correcting along the way, and embracing uncertainty.
4. I don’t have enough experience.
“I don’t have the education” is a similar example of a self-limiting belief. By thinking you have no experience you shoot yourself in the foot.
Maturity, independence, and self-confidence in business are leadership characteristics that come from experience, often only from experiencing failure and success in your own skin.
Learn more about freedom and independence from E32 #AsktheCEO:
5. I can’t do that because I am not…
Add any attribute/label to this sentence that constricts your current version:
The funny thing about self-limiting beliefs is that they persist even when evidence to the contrary is present. Labeling yourself in a certain way is difficult to defeat, but it can be done with the techniques listed below.
6. I’m not someone who follows through.
Setting priorities, knowing your pain tolerance, and working with an accountability buddy (a business mentor) can help you develop discipline and consistency. Have a clear plan, know your weaknesses, and visualize the reaped benefits. Above all, be tolerant when you make a mistake – it helps with faster recovery. (There will always be some back and forth between your old self-limiting self and your new consistent self.)
7. I fear being successful.
Success brings added responsibilities. If you fly high, the fall is more painful. So it is safer if you remain where you are. Admit what you gain by giving yourself too much slack. How do your self-limiting beliefs serve you?
8. I fear failure.
Entrepreneurs have a low-risk aversion. Therefore, the fear of failure entrepreneurs face is often situational, making them think and feel specific fear in a certain situational context. Know your situational triggers to see where you put yourself down. Understanding whether your fears are triggered by over-striving or self-protection is an excellent mechanism to break down a persistent self-limiting belief.
9. I am not as good as others.
Social comparison fuels ambition and competitiveness. But it is a general tendency to compare yourself with people who are seemingly better than yourself, thus feeding on your negativity bias, a worsened mood, and lower ability assessment. Just knowing this can help you overcome tendencies to put yourself down.
10. I don’t have talent.
Talent without hard work is pretty much useless. When they come together, they can make a company a stellar success. Achievements do come easier for talented people. If you lack skills in a certain area, a team member can compensate. Therefore, justifying your self-limitations with talent shortage will not serve you in the long run.
How to Release Self-limiting Beliefs
- Develop your meta-cognition skills. Meta-reasoning and meta-awareness are part of your meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is “thinking about thinking”. Metareasoning is the ability to reflect on your own mental processes. Meta-awareness is the ability to recognize thoughts as mental events without linking them to reality. Both are helpful correctors of a maladaptive thinking style that includes self-limiting beliefs. Inner obstacles such as anxiety, motivation, and frustration
- Understand your negativity bias. Experiencing negative events more intensely than positive events is called negativity bias. Listing successes, positive affirmations (goal tracking!), and celebrating team efforts are methods that can help you embrace positive events and generate a new imprint of how you perceive yourself.
- Integrate feedback from the environment in a more realistic way. Environmental feedback affects how you see and evaluate yourself. Avoid acting defensively by exploring your triggers and naming them. Assume other people’s good intentions and don’t take feedback personally. When you fail to meet goals, exercise self-compassion.
- See the correlation between self-efficacy and team efficacy. Self-efficacy is empowering but it can go the other way if you don’t see it correlates with team efficacy. Creating self-limiting beliefs by relying only on yourself, and not on your team, is a recipe for failure.
How many of the top 10 self-limiting beliefs do you have?
Whatever self-limiting opinions you struggle with, it takes time to push from a fixed into a growth mindset. But it gets easier every time.
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- A gamified app that helps people overcome self-limiting beliefs by promoting metacognition
- Low Perceived Self-Efficacy Impedes Discriminative Fear Learning | Psychology
- Negativity-bias in forming beliefs about own abilities | Scientific Reports
- Defining Self-Awareness in the Context of Adult Development: A Systematic Literature Review – Julia Carden, Rebecca J. Jones, Jonathan Passmore, 2022
- A reconceptualization of fear of failure in entrepreneurship – ScienceDirect
- Fear of failure: Friend or foe?: Australian Psychologist
- A social comparison theory meta-analysis 60+ years on.