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Identify and Release Self-Doubt and Limiting Beliefs

Almost everyone struggles with self-doubt and limiting beliefs at some point in their lives, which often stem from untruths we learned about ourselves or ideas we were taught as children or during adolescence. 

A belief is described by Merriam Webster as a “state of habit of the mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing. It is something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion.”

While self-doubt can stem from a lack of confidence in one’s abilities, it is often created by limiting beliefs, which are thoughts that focus on negative patterns, aspects, or circumstances that hold you back and limit you in some way. These limiting beliefs are often held in our subconscious, are hard to identify, and can occur at the most inopportune times, plaguing us right when we need to make an important decision or take some form of action.

Examples of self-doubt and limiting beliefs may include:

  • I want to start a new job, but what if I take the job and it doesn’t work out?
  • I want to make new friends, but what if I say the wrong thing?
  • I want to own a business, but what if it fails?
  • I want to be in a relationship, but I don’t deserve to be loved.
  • I want to save money, but I barely get by on what I make now.

Luckily, there are many simple, daily actions that we can take to help stop self-doubt and limiting beliefs in their tracks and end the “what if” cycle.

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” — Tony Robbins

Ways to address and eliminate self-doubt:

Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments: we do some pretty amazing things every day of our lives, but tend to not give them the credit they deserve. Every time you knock another item off of your to-do list, pause and give yourself a pat on the back for getting it done. And if it’s a really big accomplishment, like losing those last 10 lbs., publishing an article, starting your new business, or getting a promotion, then brag to everyone who will listen and spend some time celebrating your achievement.

Don’t compare yourself to others: life is not a competition and we’re all on our own paths. Instead of wasting your time and energy keeping score of what everyone else is doing, focus on yourself and your own dreams. Express happiness for those who are doing well, sympathy for those who aren’t, and then concentrate on where you’re at and what you want to achieve.

Count your blessings: keep a gratitude journal and write in it often. At the end of each day, write down 10 things in your life that make you feel blessed. Even if you’re having a rough day and a hard time coming up with anything, simply write down that you’re blessed for the roof over your head or the yummy soup you ate for lunch – every day you’re alive is a reason to feel grateful.

Take a look at your tribe: are they dreamers, doers, go-getters? Or do they tend to blame others for their problems? Do they emanate who you want to be? Do you feel rejuvenated after hanging out with them or exhausted? It’s been said that you’re the medium of the people who you hang out with, so choose your friends wisely – surround yourself not only with people who you admire, but also those who believe in you, offer encouragement, and support your dreams.

Make up your own mind: asking for the advice and input of others can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but if you find yourself doing it all of the time then essentially what you’re doing is telling yourself you’re not capable of making your own decisions. If you want to bounce ideas off of your coworkers and friends every now and again when needed, that’s fine, but make sure most of the choices you’re making come from your own decisions.

Ways to release limiting beliefs:

Write down your limiting beliefs. Pay attention to your negative thoughts and write them down. This may be a bit challenging, especially if your limiting beliefs are deep rooted, however, it is important to identify your negative-thought patterns.

Write down why you think these limiting beliefs exist. As you do the work, write down the reasons why these limiting beliefs are untrue. This step may require you to get comfortable with the uncomfortable as you confront your beliefs. If this step brings up negative emotions, you may want to seek the help of a trusted friend or professional.

Create a positive affirmation or mantra for each limiting belief. Once you identify your limiting beliefs, replace it with a positive affirmation or mantra. Use the affirmation or mantra each time the negative thought comes into your mind. For example, based on the negative samples listed above, here are ideas of positive affirmations.

Negative: I want to start a new job, but what if I take the job and it doesn’t work out?
Positive: I want to start a new job and I know I will do the best I can to succeed.

Negative: I want to make new friends, but what if I say the wrong thing?
Positive: Building new relationships comes easily and naturally to me.

Negative: I want to own a business, but what if it fails?
Positive: I want to own a business and will do everything in my power to make it successful.

Negative: I want to be in a relationship, but I don’t deserve to be loved.
Positive: I have so much love to give and deserve to be loved in return.

Negative: I want to save money, but I barely get by on what I make now.
Positive: I am great with money when I focus my attention on it.

Act as if your positive belief is true. This step is meant to be fun and exciting. It allows you to dream and play—an ability we were great at as children, but may have lost our touch with as adults. Visualize your ideal situation: if you want a new job, imagine what that job looks like (i.e. How do you dress to go to work? What are your daily tasks?) If you want to expand your circle of friends, imagine yourself being surrounded by amazing individuals laughing and supporting you (i.e. What do they look like? How do they make you feel?) If you want to run your own business, image your setting (i.e. What does it look like? Who are your customers or clients?)

Use and repeat your new affirmation or mantra daily. Get in the habit of repeating your new affirmation/mantra on a daily basis. Find a journal and write down your affirmations/mantras each morning or night, write them on post-it notes, place them on your bathroom mirror or on your computer, and repeat them daily. You can also record yourself saying them and play back the recording to yourself as you get ready in the morning, on your commute to work, or as you exercise each day.

Our beliefs become our thoughts. Our thoughts become our words. Our words become our habits. Our habits become our values. Our values become our destiny.” — Ghandi

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