Limiting beliefs are funny old things – the bigger they are, the more difficult they are to see. The challenge is: we can’t fix things we can’t see. We must dig deep to uncover what truly holds us back – or we will never be able to start that business; make more money; fulfil our potential; or live the life we deserve.
The age-old lies we’ve been fed, and the ones we tell ourselves – ‘I’m too young; too old; don’t have enough experience’ – keep us playing small.
Self-fulfilling wrong turns
It took me most of my life to realise I’d based many of my career choices on a belief that ‘creatives can’t make real money’. Instead of following my passion, I went down paths that I felt were more ‘acceptable’; what I should do, instead of what I wanted to do.
I remember the moment it dawned on me that I held this belief, let alone the impact it had on my life. As soon as I saw it, I could do something about it. I reframed the situation by asking, ‘If I grew up with Steven Spielberg as my dad or JK Rowling as my mum, would I have the same belief?’ The key to reframing beliefs is finding alternatives that prove that belief to be false.
Think you’re too old? Just Google entrepreneurs who started their businesses over the age of 40, 50 or even 60. Think you don’t have the right qualifications? Consider Richard Branson, who famously left school aged 16.
Whatever belief is holding you back, there are plenty of examples to disprove it. Be honest with yourself: If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Now, write down all the reasons why you don’t do that. Then, and the next bit is the tough part: ask yourself how many of those are true? Write down every belief, then find at least one example to disprove it. This is how you break down limiting beliefs, a bit at a time.
Don’t stifle the dream
When you look at them in the cold light of day, it’s easy to see how many of our beliefs don’t make any sense, let alone hold up to scrutiny. When we do this, it’s impossible to go back to our old thinking – and that is when we start to break free. Limiting beliefs are like weeds: if allowed to grow out of control, they will strangle the life out of your dreams. Don’t let that happen. Instead, see them for what they are: warped views of reality that, with the right tools, can be quickly dismissed.
Sháá Wasmund is author of ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing‘ (John Wiley & Sons, £9.99) and ‘Do Less, Get More’ (Penguin, £12.99). For more inspiration, join Sháá’s private Facebook group, The Freedom Collective, at shaa.com/freedomcollective
Photograph: Louise Haywood-Schiefer for Psychologies Magazine