The Enemy: Limiting Beliefs

The Solution

I have a couple of simple prescriptions to cure limiting beliefs. They mainly come from The Magic of Thinking Big, but they are also simple, practical advice (as most real wisdom is).

  1. Find some success stories of people with similar circumstances who achieved their goals. There are lots of them, I promise, including some I add to the Inspire Me section on a regular basis. Read them frequently. Include one or two success stories in your Daily Agenda system each day. Proof trumps flawed beliefs.
  2. Think back over the course of your life to things that you did achieve, things that turned out well. Don’t tell me you don’t have any, because we all do. Unfortunately, most of us also have this negative channel in our heads that plays the tune “that’ll never really happen for you, don’t waste your time”. Pure nonsense, but if that’s the only channel you’ve got playing in your head you’ve got a big problem.

    • The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind. – William James (1842 – 1910)
  3. Change the channel! Start consciously reviewing the successes you’ve had. Remember the things you’ve accomplished. Try to list 4-5 times when you reached your target. These success thoughts need to start crowding out the doubts and negative beliefs.

  4. Do what some cognitive psychologists recommend now. Create a 3 column page, with the first column holding your belief, the 2nd column stating what’s playing in your head about that belief (“this will just be another disappointment”), and the 3rd column that states the rational, thoughtful truth: “Look, you’ve had many successes in your life, other people are doing this, etc.” and recall your own successes.

    Remind yourself that you are seeking personal improvement, and you can deal with the normal obstacles that will arise using (1) proper planning, (2) clear thinking and (3) regular, consistent action moving toward the goal. In short, illustrate the lie your revealed in column 2 and the better, healthier attitude and belief in column 3.

Are There No Limits?

Does that mean that we should be blind to realty, that absolutely anything is possible? Of course not. My chances of playing in the NBA are zilch (5’9″, and well past 40 years old), and I’m not likely to catch Warren Buffett or Bill Gates on the Fortune 50 Wealthiest People list. That’s not what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about honest assessments of reasonable, realistic goals and that aren’t limited by our physical realities of some other obvious constraint. If we know intellectually that something is at least possible, then we need to turn our attention to our own ideas about whether we believe it is achievable for us, whether we have the POTENTIAL to reach it.

Breaking our ideas and beliefs down and looking at them honestly will generally reveal (a) if it’s at least in the realm of possibility, and (b) if so, whether we believe we can achieve it.

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