Self-limiting beliefs are those things you believe whether you are conscious of them or not, beliefs that tend to mask your talent and dampen your dreams. They create an atmosphere where you don’t try things you need to try. They are deeply held thoughts you truly believe, and they’re more emotional than logical. They stem from fears of all sorts.
We all know that very few people can sing as well as Frank Sinatra, or paint as well as Van Gogh, or write as well as Hemingway. But does that mean you shouldn’t sing, paint, or write? Absolutely not. Do it to your heart’s content. The more you do it purposefully, the more you will improve, but you must defeat the self-limiting beliefs first.
Here are a few common self-limiting beliefs to watch for and guard against.
I’ll be judged for being the real me.
You probably will, but why be afraid of that? Why put so much weight on another person’s opinion, especially if it’s unsolicited? Sure, if you ask for the feedback, you should listen to it and receive it as a gift. However, if someone gives their unwanted opinion of you or your performance, who cares? It’s probably more for them than it is for you anyway. Take a pass on unsolicited feedback.
If I ask for what I really want, I’ll get rejected.
You probably will. One thing is for sure — not many people get what they want by not asking. Those who ask, get. Those who ask big, get big. Not long ago, someone came to my door looking to make a sale. Although I wasn’t interested in his product, I asked him how many rejections he had gotten so far. “Six,” he replied. I told him that, although I would be seven, he would make a sale before he left my neighborhood because every rejection brings you closer to an acceptance. A few minutes later, he returned to my door to tell me he made a sale two doors down.
I can’t trust people because they’ll just hurt me.
They probably will. I can say I have lived a life of trusting many people, and I have probably been hurt more deeply than most would imagine. On the other hand, I have met the most awesome and fascinating people in the world. The toll fee is worth the trust trip. With every new person I meet, I’ll always give him or her my full trust until he or she violates it. This is how I’ve been able to make so many great friends in my life and build so many amazing connections.
If I pursue my dreams, I may fail.
You probably will have your share of failure. But that can work if you only risk what you can afford to lose. You can mitigate risk in a great way by having the right research, strategy, plan, and execution. Most of the people who have had these elements in place have been successful because they calculated and executed the proper amount of risk. You are no different. Failure is overdramatized in today’s world. People fail all the time; there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. What’s more important is the actions you take when things don’t go your way. How can you learn from your failures? How can you turn your failures into success?
- I’m too old to pursue my dreams.
You’re probably not. I was at a business conference in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago when I learned that one of my heroes, Peter Drucker, wrote a total of 39 books, and he wrote three-fourths of them after the age of 50. If you often say that it’s too late to pursue your dreams, recognize that your age isn’t the real limiting factor here — your belief that it is a limiting factor is the limiting factor. Forget the standard societal track of success, where one needs to be at a certain place in life at a certain age to be considered successful. The most important thing is to take some kind of action now. Quit deferring your happiness. Act now.
Try this on for size: I can improve my self-worth by opening myself up to critique, not with the intent of accepting all of it, but with the hope of evaluating all of it to choose my future improvement. Don’t limit yourself. Move forward.