Most people, at some time in their lives, have what we call “limiting beliefs.” These are conscious or subconscious ideas that can stop us from achieving our goals if we let them. Sometimes these beliefs are instilled in us in childhood, and sometimes we create the ourselves.
Let’s take weight loss, for example. If you are above a healthy weight for yourself, and want to lose some pounds, a limiting belief may be stopping you. You might think, “I’ll never get this weight off. I can’t stick with a healthy eating plan. I can’t seem to stick with a good exercise routine. I might as well accept the fact that I’ll never be at my ideal weight.” By thinking this way, you set yourself up for failure.
These types of thoughts can apply to anything you try to achieve in your life. It could be education, job goals, weight and health goals, even cleaning or decluttering your house. But if you keep seeing yourself a certain way, it can be hard to change that view and let go of that limiting belief.
Here are eight phrases that point to a limiting belief:
1. It’s hopeless.
Anytime you use the word “never” is a clue that you’re focusing on a limiting belief. For example, “I’ll never have any money because you need money to make money.”
2. I’m helpless.
Often, when people feel uneducated or helpless, they blame their circumstances instead of working to change them. “I can’t manage money because I don’t know how” sounds perfectly legitimate. But the part that’s missing is the feeling of helplessness. Maybe all that person needs to do is to take a personal finance course, or read some good personal finance books.
3. It’s useless.
The idea that nothing you do will make a difference is very crippling. “It doesn’t matter if I do change my eating habits, I’ll probably still be overweight,” is an example of this flawed thinking. You are setting yourself up for failure.
4. That’s just how life is.
This fatalistic view is also very damaging. You feel like life is just going to kick you down and walk on you. You feel like you don’t have the power to change anything. You have reasons, such as “The economy sucks, so I can’t find a job. I don’t have the right clothes. I live in a depressed area.” While much of this may be true, there are always steps to overcome these things.
5. I’m worthless.
The idea that you’re not smart enough or good enough to do what you really want can be a very strong limiting belief. It also seems to affect women more than men. You don’t think you’re pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, or even young enough to have something. So you don’t take steps to achieve it, because you don’t feel that you deserve it.
6. It’s genetic.
While there are certainly some instances where genetics play a role in a person’s life, the truth is that almost everything that is genetic can be fixed with the right midnset, training, exercise, and outlook. You’re not stuck with your genetics, but if you think you are, you may not try any of the things to pull yourself out of the rut you’re stuck in.
7. I’ll fail.
Fear of failure is a very common limiting belief. “I can’t teach a classroom of ten-year-olds in Sunday school.” “I can’t speak in front of people.” “I’m not good with technology.” “I can’t stick with a diet.” How do you know these things if you’ve never tried them? And even if you are not really good in one area, you are probably very gifted in something else. But you may not even know you have that gift if you’ve never tried to develop it. Failure is not something to be feared. Failure is one of the best teachers we have, and most of the influential people in history failed many times before they succeeded.
8. I’m different.
Being different is not bad. Don’t be afraid of who you are. God created you to fill a place in history “for such a time as this.” You have a unique role that no one else can really fill. Maybe you are so afraid to be who you are that you don’t really know who you are, and you are too afraid of being rejected to find out. Again, if you read biographies of famous people who made great contributions to humanity, you will find that they were “different.”
So, if you ever hear any of these phrases go through your head, try to disconnect from them. Try thinking just the opposite. Instead of saying “why me,” ask “why not me?” The truth is, you’re not feeling anything different from anyone else who has been successful. The difference is in the doing, not the intelligence or talent.