Photo credit: Sarah
Photo credit: Sarah via Flickr

by: Ruth Bridgewood

Do you know anyone who is totally successful and fulfilled in all areas of their life? In their relationships, career, health, wealth and wellbeing? If you do, then they are probably one of the very few people in the world who have managed to let go of all their limiting beliefs and create a perfect life for themselves. For the rest of us, it is necessary to firstly understand how our limiting beliefs have come about, identify the limiting beliefs that are holding us back, then taking action to modify or eliminate them so we can move on and live the life we deserve.

What are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are those that we received, either consciously or unconsciously, from our parents, teachers, exposure to media, our culture (or parent’s cultural background) to name a few. There is also evidence that a tendency towards negativity and limitation can be passed on genetically, but this is heavily modified by the things that happen throughout our lives.

Whilst most of our limiting beliefs are formulated in our childhood (“Do you think money grows on trees!”, “Who do you think you are?” …), it is true that any shattering experience such as an accident, broken relationship, or business failure can affect our thinking and self-confidence, and consequently our behaviour. Our minds build up a memory bank of ideas and images from little scraps of information, experiences, comments, and impressions gathered over a lifetime. Everything we’ve been through, things people have said to us and about us, compliments or criticisms, failures or successes have all built up in our memories along with our interpretations or attitudes to those events. Unfortunately humans are generally more inclined to believe criticisms more than the praise. This can be disastrous if the criticism happens at a time in our life where we are particularly vulnerable (e.g. adolescence) or even if you are just having a bad day!

Because these beliefs have been building up quietly, unnoticed for so long, we don’t bother to challenge them and they may even be hidden from our conscious mind altogether. We don’t realise that our fears and negative results have come about as a consequence of these hidden beliefs. We end up settling for a minimal, marginal life, subconsciously believing that we don’t deserve money, love or respect.

Of course, we have also “inherited” many beliefs and attitudes that are positive and serve us well, which we don’t necessarily want to change. However, it is really necessary to challenge those beliefs that have created limitations for future decisions about who you are and what you are capable of, as well as creating low self-esteem and confidence.

Can They Be Changed?

As we have learnt, most of our beliefs are generalisations based on our past, and our interpretations of our experiences. Often we have misinterpreted the situation or the things we have heard, but once we have adopted that interpretation, we forget that that is all it is – our interpretation. And interpretations can be changed!

There is a well-known story about an alcoholic and drug addict who murdered a store cashier for drug money. He had two sons, eleven months apart, one of whom grew up to be “just like Dad” – a drug addict who lived by stealing and threatening others and ended up in jail. His brother is a different story. He’s happily married with three kids, regional bank manager who finds his work rewarding and challenging. He’s physically fit with no addictions. When they were queried individually on why they felt their lives had turned out the way they did, both responded “What else could I have become, with a father like that?”.

We all have the ability to choose our interpretation and response to any life situations, so we certainly have the ability to change that interpretation. You can create a meaning which can either empower you or disempower you. You can continue to accept those limiting and negative beliefs and go through life only achieving a fraction of what you are capable of, or you can let them go and take control of your attitude and your life.

In our next article, we will learn how to identify our own limiting beliefs and how they can be changed.

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About The Author

Ruth Bridgewood is a qualified Life Coach, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist specialising in on-line personal growth courses, tools and resources. For more articles and to claim your free self-improvement e-books, visit
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