A self-limiting belief is an irrational belief. It distorts reality, is illogical, it can prevent you from reaching your goals, leading to unhealthy emotions and to self-defeating behaviour. -Dr Albert Ellis
As a learning and development professional, I work with people every day helping them to identify their self-limiting beliefs, which hold them back from realising their full potential. Recently I was asked to run a workshop on this very topic for a high profile tech company.
As I began the process of creating a journey for the participants it didn’t take me long to ponder my own journey. I needed to use an example and what better example to use than a self-limiting belief I had owned for some time. Armed with a cup of coffee I took time out of the program design and within minutes my mind was flooded with the realisation that I had designed my life around this particular belief.
I had waited almost 13 years between pregnancies. Not because I was having trouble conceiving or because there were relationship issues. I was in perfect working order, had a husband who adored me and a little boy who was constantly asking when he was getting a little brother or sister.
My self-limiting belief was that I couldn’t excel or progress quickly enough in my career if I had another child. I can’t remember who said the words “If you have two you might as well have ten” to me but the words stuck and grew into that self-limiting belief that has now resulted in a generation separating my children.
OK, now I had a good example for my for my upcoming workshop. Only I needed some serious therapy to get me over this realisation!
This really started me thinking about how hidden these beliefs are and how we build powerful stories that reinforce them. Self-limiting beliefs can be as simple as…”I am not good enough”… to a more complicated belief that can sabotage performance.
This also started me thinking about how careers could change for the better if we could help people (men and women), uncover what their self-limiting beliefs are and gently move into a new direction.
Some simple tips that have helped me through the journey:
- Talk to someone objective, a career or life coach
- Find the root of your self-limiting belief and meet it head on
- Re-frame it – find a way to turn the negative into a positive