How Self-Limiting Beliefs Hold You Back

Written by Erica Orr


Creating and setting goals is one of the most important aspects of creating your life that has fulfillment and purpose. Working towards something and achieving it creates a euphoric feeling within us that reminds us how great it feels to realize our true potential; but sometimes, we set goals and never move forward with them. We stare at the list of the goals we set, whether that is to lose 15 pounds, learn how to rock climb, or follow our dreams of becoming a successful artist. Why do we have a tendency to stop ourselves from achieving our dreams and conquering the goals we know will give us immense pleasure and happiness? Instead of feeling excitement and determination about achieving our goals, we feel anxiety, nervousness, inadequate, and scared to make those first, second, third steps towards our goals.

Those negative feelings we experience are perpetuated by a self-doubt, or a self-limiting belief we have subconsciously agreed to. Limiting beliefs are beliefs that do not contain facts and have the power to constrain us from believing that we are capable of achieving and reaching our goals. A limiting belief can be created by two ways – either by ourselves or by someone else in our lives that made us believe we were not capable of living to our true potential.

A limiting belief is a not fact, even though we may think it is.  A limiting belief resides in the subconscious mind, which makes it difficult for us to be aware of. These beliefs are difficult to find because we long ago agreed to this belief and have let it dictate our actions and choices when it comes to specific goals. These beliefs stop us from believing in ourselves and pursuing our dreams. The good news is there is a way to stop them from dictating your life. The exercise below will help you find those self-limiting beliefs so you have the opportunity to realize what thoughts have been holding you back.


Realizing Your Limiting Beliefs and Creating New Empowering Beliefs

  • Believe that you are capable of achieving your goal -  “I believe in myself that I am capable of achieving my goal”
  • Work through each of these questions in order and allow yourself to feel negative emotions that arise.
  • Allowing yourself to experience these emotions will allow you to release the hold this belief has had on you throughout all this time
  • Feel, experience, think, and even cry all of your emotions out of your body. The more pain associated with this belief, the better chance you have of removing it and creating a positive change
  • Doing this will help you create a new and positive belief within yourself

Part 1 - Finding the Limiting Belief

  • Think of a specific goal in mind you would like to achieve and write it down.
  • Now imagine yourself achieving that goal and write down how you feel
  • What feelings do you experience as you imagine yourself achieving the goal?
  • Write out a reason why you can’t pursue that goal
  • Notice the listed reason why you can’t pursue that goal
    •  Note - (There is no reason to be mad at yourself, feel guilty of being scared, or feel bad for having this reason).
  • Now that you are aware of the reason why you think you can’t pursue this goal, we can continue to examine why and where this belief came from. It is important to note, the reason you came up with, is not a fact, but is only a belief

Now you have a starting point on how to find out where, why, and how this belief came to be. Understand that this is a mental roadblock and believe in yourself that you will overcome it.

Part 2 - Examining the Belief

  • What does this belief feel like?
  • What sensations does it make you feel?
  • What do you visualize when you think of this belief?
    • Note – If you are starting to feel anxiety or nervousness, take a few deep breathes and continue when are ready

Part 3 - Throw Doubt on Your Belief and Question It

  • Is this belief truly accurate?
  • Is there proof that this belief is true?
  • What is the opposite why of thinking about this belief? How does this help?
  • Would others believe me if I told them this belief?
  • What famous quotes contradict this belief?
  • Is this belief helping me to get what I want the most of life?
  • What assistance does having this belief give me?
  • What are the consequences of believing in this belief?
  • How does holding on to this belief help me in achieving this goal?
  • What are the short-term consequences of having this belief? Long-term?
  • How does having this belief help me spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally?
  • How does having this belief help my family?

Part 4 - Choose a New and Empowering Belief

  • How would creating a new and positive belief make me feel?
  • How does it make me feel by knowing I have the power within myself to reach my goal?
  • What would it feel like achieving my goal?
  • How will my life change for the better?
  • Why is achieving this goal important to me?
  • How will this belief help me in achieve my short-term and long-term goals?
  • What kinds of behaviors or decisions can I do to help me remember my new belief?
  • What quotes will help me strengthening my new belief?
  • What habits can I create to help me remember my new belief?
  • What can I surround myself that will help me reinforce my new belief daily?

Part 5 - Get Committed!

It is important that you are ready to make this change and get rid of that pesky limiting belief that has been holding you back. Ask yourself these 3 questions and if you are not at least at an 8, go back and work through the previous questions again.

  • How committed am I to my new belief?
  • Do I feel confident in myself in making this change?
  • How motivated am I believing in my new belief?

Part 6 - Creating a New Belief for Yourself

Write out your old limiting belief that no longer serves you and re-write it into a positive, abundant, and self-love belief.


            Old Belief - I want to be a successful artist but I feel my art is good enough

            New Belief – I create art that is desirable and valuable to everyone that sees             it. 

Now that you are aware of what your limiting belief is and you are committed to changing it, it is time now to create a new belief for yourself. Say this new belief when you start to notice your old ways of thinking towards achieving your goal and repeat this exercise as many times as needed to help you change your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. You have the power, creativity, and ambition within you to achieve any goal you set for yourself.