CARLOS VETTORAZZI

How To Break Through Your Limiting Beliefs

13 June 2023
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Have you ever had a conversation that stayed with you for days? I recently had such a conversation with my son. He said, “Dad, you make people uncomfortable with all your questions.

It felt like a punch in the stomach. I had never thought about it that way. For the last fifteen years, I have been curious and inquisitive, asking questions to learn more about the world and the people I encounter.

I reflected on our conversation for days and couldn’t stop thinking if I made people uncomfortable with all my questions.

This is what I came up with: It is common for people to feel uncomfortable when I ask incisive questions, especially when challenging personal beliefs or aspects of their lives. That is what my son had made me feel.

Still, I keep reading and writing to explore and question my own limiting beliefs, which has completely changed how I interact with the internal and external world.

Before becoming a coach, I initially felt the same uneasy when faced with these questions. However, I later learned that my discomfort often signifies potential growth.

The process of questioning and examining my beliefs is a fundamental aspect of my personal development and has led to profound insights and transformative change.

If you have read some of my other articles, you know that my intention is not to make you feel uncomfortable for the sake of it but rather to support you toward greater self-awareness and empowerment.

“Therefore, I find myself consistently coming back to the same question day after day;

“What evidence do I have to support this belief?”

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This question prompts me to examine the validity and basis of my limiting beliefs critically. It encourages me to learn more about myself and others.

I have become better at understanding whether my belief is rooted in facts or may be based on highly subjective assumptions, past experiences, or societal conditioning.

Identifying limiting beliefs is often uncomfortable because they are closely linked to our sense of self. However, it is still crucial because it helps us overcome self-doubt and negative self-talk and strive to accomplish our goals and aspirations; most importantly, it becomes easier with practice.

Definition of Limiting Beliefs

In my experience, limiting beliefs are deeply ingrained thoughts and beliefs that hold us back from achieving our goals. These beliefs are often neutral at best, biased, and based on inaccurate information or outdated experiences at worst.

The opposite of limiting beliefs would be imagination. Embracing and finding possibilities in everything, breaking free from limiting beliefs.

Impact of Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs significantly impacts our lives and often affects our self-esteem, motivation, and ability to achieve our goals.

We are less likely to take risks and pursue our dreams when our life is governed by limiting beliefs.

Identifying Limiting Beliefs

The first step to overcoming limiting beliefs is to see it for what it is; an illusion.

Reflecting on our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and our abilities, we can ask ourselves questions like:

“What beliefs do I have that hold me back?” or “What negative self-talk patterns do I have?”

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Challenging Limiting Beliefs

Once we have identified our limiting beliefs, we must challenge them. This can be done by asking ourselves:

“Is this belief true?” – “What evidence do I have to support this belief?”

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Often, we hold onto limiting beliefs that are not based on facts but on fear or distorted memories.

Replacing Limiting Beliefs with Empowering Beliefs

The final step to overcoming limiting beliefs is replacing them with empowering ones.

While limiting beliefs are destructive and hold us back from achieving our goals, empowering beliefs are constructive thoughts that help us accept where we are and strive to achieve our goals.

When we embrace the discomfort we experience when asking incisive questions, we can find our limiting beliefs, challenge them, and replace them with empowering ones.

We allow ourselves to break free from the constraints of limiting beliefs and discover untapped potential when we approach life with an imaginative lens.

We become more open to new experiences, willing to take risks, and explore uncharted territory.

When we let go of our limiting beliefs, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and are free to use our imagination as a powerful tool for personal growth.
Ultimately, the only limits we face are the ones we impose upon ourselves.

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Examples and questions to identify limiting beliefs:

Negative Self-talk:

Example: “I’m not smart enough to be successful in my chosen career.”
Questions to identify the limiting belief

What negative thoughts or statements do you often tell yourself?

What do you say to yourself when you face a challenge or setback?

Self-Doubt:

Example: “I’ll never be able to achieve my goals; it’s too difficult.”

Questions to identify the limiting belief:

What doubts or insecurities do you have about your abilities?

What reasons do you give yourself for why you can’t achieve what you want?

Fear of Failure:

Example: “If I try and fail, that means I’m a failure.”

Questions to identify the limiting belief:

What do you fear will happen if you fail?

What negative consequences do you associate with failure?

Perfectionism:

Example: “If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth doing.”

Questions to identify the limiting belief:

Do you feel the need to do things perfectly? Why?

What expectations or standards do you set for yourself that are difficult to meet?

Comparison:

Example: “I’ll never be as successful as others; they have it all figured out.”
Questions to identify the limiting belief

In what areas of your life do you often compare yourself to others?

How does comparing yourself to others affect your self-esteem and motivation?

Lack of Worthiness:

Example: “I don’t deserve to be happy or successful”.

Questions to identify the limiting belief:

Do you feel unworthy of good things happening to you? Why?

What experiences or messages from your past contribute to this belief?

Fixed Mindset:

Example: “I am not talented; my abilities are fixed and cannot be improved.”

Questions to identify the limiting belief

Do you believe that your talents and abilities are fixed?

Do you avoid challenges or give up easily because you think you can’t improve?

Techniques for Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Several techniques can be used to overcome limiting beliefs, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is one type of therapy that many find helpful for identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is another great approach to practicing being present and aware of thoughts and feelings. This can help us to recognize and challenge our limiting beliefs.
  • Positive Affirmations: Positive affirmations are statements we repeat to reinforce positive beliefs and attitudes that are helpful when coupled with specific and measurable action.
  • Visualization involves imagining ourselves achieving our goals and overcoming our limiting beliefs, also when coupled with specific and measurable action.

Books on limiting beliefs

  • “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level” by Gay Hendricks
  • “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck
  • “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero
  • “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One” by Dr. Joe Dispenza

These books are a starting point for discovering insights and techniques for overcoming limiting beliefs and achieving personal growth.

Research articles on limiting beliefs

  • “Implicit Theories and Self-Regulation Processes: Implications for Learning, Education, and Human Potential” by Carol S. Dweck and Ellen L. Leggett (article)
  • “Limiting Beliefs and Learned Helplessness in Children with Learning Disabilities” by Anne M. Donnellan and Gary W. LaVigna (article)
  • “The Moderating Effects of Self-Efficacy and Goal Orientation on the Relationship between Negative Self-Beliefs and Performance” by Tanya R. Larkin and Michael J. Hall (article)
  • “Limiting Beliefs and Personality Traits in Gifted Students” by Christian M. End, Franzis Preckel, and Heidrun Stoeger (article)
  • “The Impact of Implicit Theories on Approach Motivations and Behavioral Outcomes: Insights from the Implicit Theory Literature” by Judith M. Harackiewicz, Christopher S. Rozek, and Janet S. Hyde (article)

Magic Questions for you

– What are empowering beliefs, and how can they help me achieve my goals?

– What are some ways to develop more empowering beliefs?

– What can I do to create a mindset that supports my goals and helps me overcome limiting beliefs?

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