Limiting Beliefs

December 6, 2009 – In our last issue, we discussed Self-Mastery and how we can master our lives once we begin living our lives authentically through utilizing and sharing our signature strengths. Learning to make conscious choices, choices that are made in the present moment, without regard to all the self-defeating thoughts which arise in our minds, is key to crafting the lives we envision for ourselves.

These self-defeating thoughts may be characterized as the “Big 4” energy blocks (Limiting Beliefs, Gremlins, Assumptions and Interpretations) that we carry around with us and dictate how we see the world. And that holds us back reaching our unlimited potential.

The first self-defeating thought…

The first self-defeating thought we’ll discuss is our limiting beliefs. Beliefs can either help us or hinder us; limiting beliefs are those that hold us back from success. If we do not believe something is possible, we’re not likely to attempt it. Even if we do attempt it, we won’t devote much energy to achieving that goal.

Limiting beliefs are general beliefs about the world, our environment and situation, and the people around us who stand in our way. More often than not, we accept a limiting belief as true because we’ve learned it from someone else, or from an “authority,” such as the media, a book, or a movie. We assume that it’s “just the way it is.”

Here is a classic example of a limiting belief: Until 1954, it was commonly held that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. Yet on May 6 of that year, Roger Bannister crossed the finish line in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, thereby disproving the myth. It’s remarkable that Bannister accomplished his feat. It required that he completely ignore the prevailing, limiting belief and construct an entirely different belief system for himself. What others saw as a limitation, he perceived as opportunity. Less than two months after Bannister disproved the presumed limits of the human body, John Landy broke the record, running a mile in 3 minutes and 57.9 seconds. And within just a few years, dozens of runners were leaving the four-minute mark in the dust.

Robert F. Kennedy said it well during his 1968 campaign:

There are those who look at things the way they are and ask, why … I dream of things that never were and ask, why not.

And How to Overcome It

There are several ways to challenge limiting beliefs.

  • We can explore the effect the belief has had on our life, look for proof of its truth (or lack thereof), or modify the belief or aspects of the belief to better serve us.
  • Simply examining the belief with questions like “How true do I believe that is?” and the rhetorical “Where did I get that idea?” can also work remarkably well.

Once we overcome limiting beliefs, they can no longer hold us back.

This holiday season, as the traditional time for New Year’s resolutions approaches, let’s resolve to begin examining the nature and sources of our limiting beliefs. Let’s accept this challenge: Dare to disprove the limiting belief, and begin making those dreams, of things which never were, a reality.

During our 2010 issues, we’ll examine the remaining Big 4 self-defeating thoughts, as we discuss ways to assess and access our signature strengths to make our dreams realities.

Consider the possibilities.

Adam J. Krim                                                                                                   www.driveconsulting.net

About Adam J. Krim

Adam works as a Certified Professional Coach, delivering soft skills training seminars on a variety of topics, including Time Management, Harnessing Stress, Decision Making, Problem Solving and more.
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