Throughout your life, it’s likely you’ve received all sorts of advice. Much of it was probably sensible, well-meaning advice, intended to protect you. Sometimes however it can also create limiting beliefs and act as another thin little rope around your leg. Over time these limiting beliefs can hold you back from doing what matters most to you, from leading the life you truly want.
Who is it that’s tying these ropes?
You can’t just blame your parents or those cruel kids who bullied you at school. Friends, teachers, workmates and all sorts of other loved ones will happily lash you down whilst encouraging you to play it safe. There is also a giant advertising industry built on making you feel inadequate and fostering limiting self-beliefs. Advertisers will make you feel ugly to sell beauty products. They will make you feel afraid to sell insurance. They will make you feel trapped to buy a gigantic SUV that will climb over impressive looking mountains.
Why do we stay bound by these ropes?
At the core of all limiting self-beliefs (which we all have) is an overwhelming human desire to feel safe and accepted. We often do what is required to fit in ahead of doing what we really want. It’s why teenagers suck on cigarettes, women strap on painful stilettos and men sweat it out in neckties and woollen suits on baking hot days. Breaking with expected norms is uncomfortable – more uncomfortable for many people than coughing up their lungs, torturing their feet or sweating it out in wildly inappropriate clothing. While we are given rewards for fitting in, we are taught that breaking free is risky and dangerous. Most of the time we stay bound by the ropes because they help us feel physically, emotionally and mentally safe.
What separates us from the superstars?
The biggest star quality isn’t brains, looks or musical ability – it’s refusing to be bound by those thin ropes. The Beatles were rejected by record label after record label and were told they had no future in show business. Winston Churchill’s father said that Winston was “unfit for a career in law or politics”. Barbra Streisand’s mother said she’d never be a singer because her voice wasn’t good enough and she’d never be pretty enough to be an actress. A modelling agency told Marilyn Monroe “You better get secretarial work or get married”. J. K Rowling was rejected by numerous publishers and told “not to quit her day job”. Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his whole life.
Had any of these people let themselves be bound by the criticism we wouldn’t know their names today. We wouldn’t see their art, read their words, listen to their songs or be inspired by their actions.
6 tips for letting go of limiting beliefs
- A powerful first step can be to simply acknowledge what limiting beliefs are continuing to influence your actions and behaviours. This itself may help release the grip of your limiting beliefs.
- While limiting beliefs are often focused on keeping you “safe”, the reality is they often keep you tied down, convince you to “play small” and undermine your sense of worthiness and wellbeing. To get where you truly want to go, you need to bravely pursue your values.
- While limiting beliefs will not disappear overnight, taking these actions can loosen their grip on you. It’s likely you will more quickly recognise when a limiting belief is showing up and when your behaviour is being influenced by old unhelpful stories.
- Remember, you will not be here forever. Your finite time on this earth is precious. Will you let your limiting beliefs steal your hopes, dreams and possible adventures or will you choose to honour your own values and do what matters most?
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