Ah, limiting beliefs. Let’s go ahead and admit it, we all have them. I’m a big fan of the Jen Hatmaker “For the Love” podcast, and on this week’s episode, she hosted Rachel Hollis.
Rachel discusses the obstacles she has overcome, experiences she has had working in the entertainment industry, and the dreams she has been able to manifest. What I loved about the message in this episode is the emphasis placed on the importance of dreams and that the ability to achieve our dreams is in our control.
What usually stops us from pursuing these dreams is limiting beliefs. AKA the falsely powerful voice in our heads that tells us all the reasons we can’t do “the thing”—whatever “the thing” may be: going back to school, taking a yoga class, writing a book, initiating a new relationship. No matter how small or insignificant a desire may be, you deserve to pursue it. This spurred me to evaluate the limiting beliefs that cross my mind on a regular basis.
- When an old friend I hadn’t seen in at least two years invited me to lunch: “you can’t go to lunch with her because she will think you’re boring and wish she hadn’t invited you”
- When I brought Hope home and she took a while to adjust to her new surroundings: “She [Hope] is never going to like you or be the fun, playful dog I wanted her to be.”
- When I had a frustrating day on the scale, weight wise, in my pursuit of weight restoration: “This is taking way too long and is too hard. I’m putting in so much effort to this recovery, but not getting the results I want, so I should just quit”
- When two old friends drove out of town to visit me this past weekend: “They’re going to be so bored and wish they hadn’t have come. I should just isolate myself more while I’m here”
- When I follow my meal plan and have GI distress: “See, this is why restriction is better. You’re in so much discomfort now”
- When my clothes get too small or fit me differently than I’m accustomed to: “Because these leggings (or whatever clothing article it is) are tight, you must be unattractive now”
- When my friends or classmates get promoted, start new jobs, or get awesome interviews: “you’re such a failure to launch. You should be making career moves, but instead you’re working on recovery”
There’s a couple of key takeaways from bringing these dark thoughts to light:
- They lose power: Rereading these, I observe how insecure, illogical, and altogether false these beliefs are.
- If I were to believe these thoughts, I would miss out on some great opportunities: community is the ultimate joy in life, and I see that a lot of my limiting beliefs stem from fear of rejection. I could have declined the lunch date or told my friends not to drive to Bartlesville, but then I would have missed out on valuable relationships and fun experiences.
- They exhibit black and white, all or nothing thinking: When I was a student, I frequently had True/False questions on exams where the question stem included the words “always” or “never”. When this happened, the answer was almost always false. Life is not absolutes: there’s always exceptions. Just because the scale went in one direction today, doesn’t mean it will go that direction every other day. Just because something no longer fits, doesn’t mean something else can fit and will also look good. Just because something doesn’t agree with my stomach today, doesn’t mean it will never agree with my stomach.
- Comparison is the thief of joy: Limiting beliefs prey on the belief that we aren’t “enough”, which involves comparison to others.
How I’m working to overcome limiting beliefs:
- Reframe them: For me this involves acknowledging the source of the belief. For example, when my favorite leggings no longer fit me, I acknowledged that truth. But I reframed my reaction: “Because these leggings no longer fit me, I am healthier and closer to the life I want.”
- Prove them wrong: Even though my insecure voice did not want to go to lunch, I knew it was in my best interest to. So I went, and I had a great time. Similarly, I told myself that my friends were driving two hours to see me because they value me and want to spend time with me, so it does not matter if we have the most exciting weekend of our lives or if we just sit at home. They came, and we laughed, played with Hope, and enjoyed each other’s company. All of the sudden, the limiting beliefs lose credibility the next time they come around.
- Focus on the positive: Positivity has a snowball effect. Positive thinking leads to continued positive thinking, which inversely lessens limiting beliefs. To do this, I write 5 daily gratitudes at the end of each day and emphasize my “Positive Paula” mantra.
- Remember the absolute truth: Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)-“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” We have these dreams and gifts for a reason. We are supposed to use our gifts and pursue our dreams. To do this, we must accept change, leave comfort behind, and follow the dream.
If this resonates with you, I hope that you are able to take some of these strategies and apply them to your own limiting beliefs. We all have our own unique talents to use and dreams to pursue. Don’t let limiting beliefs stop you from using your gift or chasing your dream.