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What Is A Self Limiting Belief?

Does god existAs I said in the previous post ‘What is The Secret To Success?’, beliefs are not real.

Unless you can get your head round that concept you’re probably going to struggle to make significant change and this post will probably frustrate you.

I sometimes post on a St Louis Rams message board and I’m frequently amazed by the amount of people who think the way they views things, is the only way to view things.

They seem to assume there’s a correlation between how fervently they believe and shout about something and the likelihood of it being true.

There isn’t.

Does God Exist?

Millions of people believe with all their heart that God exists. Some of the cleverest minds on the planet believe that, as do some more cerebrally challenged amongst us.

Millions of people believe with all their heart that God does not exist. Some of the cleverest minds on the planet believe that, as do some more cerebrally challenged amongst us.

Which group you fall into is largely (although not entirely) an accident of birth, but make no mistake, neither is right and neither is wrong, they’re just beliefs

If you cannot or will not (as is often the case with extreme examples like the one above) distinguish between a belief and a fact, the process of removing self limiting beliefs is exponentially harder.

And the reason for that is if you can’t employ critical thinking you will always find ways to support your limiting beliefs.

Thinking you know that God either exists or doesn’t exist is arrogant and quite honestly, stupid.

And that’s not a knock on people’s faith, or lack thereof, it’s just that nobody knows the answer to that no matter how loudly the cry that they do.

What Is A Self Limiting Belief?

It’s important at this stage to separate a belief from a self limiting belief because, even though they obviously can be, they’re not necessarily the same thing.

Believing in God is unlikely to be a self limiting belief, unless that is you aspire to be a deity in your own right and rule the Universe, then the competition element may hold you back.

Similarly, my belief that bananas are a disgusting abomination of a fruit created by some malevolent being to curse me into old age hasn’t held me back in life.

However, if I ever want to make a living imitating a gorilla, it may turn into a limiting belief.

Here are some more sensible examples and how we turn a self limiting belief into a fact that we can work with.

(Self Limiting) Belief

  • I’ll not find a mate that loves me
  • I’ll struggle to make a decent living as a Life Coach
  • I’ll never be a popular person
  • I cannot stop one of my dogs from eating my tax return


  • I haven’t found a mate that loves me up until now
  • Making money as a Life Coach could be tougher than I expect, maybe I should hire Tim to help me!
  • It’s probably going to take a lot of hard work to become as popular as I would like
  • I didn’t manage to stop one of my dogs eating my tax return this year

You may have noticed that all of the first group are delivered as facts when none of them actually are, they’re opinions, beliefs or assumptions.

Of course the fullness of time and hindsight may prove them to be factual, but that’s not the same thing and none of us can see into the future to know that.

Statements like the former are unhelpful on two different levels.

The Two Reasons Self Limiting Beliefs Hurt You

Firstly, they all contain a presupposition that nothing will change in the future. Saying you’re not a popular person leaves no room for maneuver, it is what it is and your screwed and unpopular.

Secondly, when you say something like that your brain sorts for evidence to support the belief and it will nearly always remember times when you felt unpopular or disliked whilst ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

Thus you create a self-fulfilling prophesy as you carry on your not so merry way ‘knowing’ you’re unpopular.

A self limiting belief will always be future paced, and by that I mean it will have some element in it that suggests things cannot and will not change.

That may be a subtle presupposition as in the examples above, or it may be something a lot more in your face such as, “I’ll never be any good at this” or “I could never learn to do that

Unless it’s something you physiologically cannot and will never be able to do, then for the most part treat every belief you have (that holds you back from doing or achieving something that is important to you), as a self limiting belief.

If you take that approach you are much more flexible, much more likely to spot erroneous beliefs masquerading as facts and in a much better position to kick their ass when you spot them.

This post was originally going to to explain who how get rid of self limiting beliefs. However, I thought it was wise to explain the basics before I got into that, so next time I really will tell you how to remove them.

Now who’s the first person who is going to tell me categorically God exists? ;-)


27 comments to What Is A Self Limiting Belief?

  • Oh man, self-limiting beliefs are EVERYWHERE. I have hundreds of them that I’m sure are hiding in my subconscious outside of my view, but they affect me.

    I like your spin on the self-limiting beliefs and the facts that better explain our thoughts. Re-wording them shows just how amazing these potentials are and they are ALL waiting for you.

    • I doubt you have 100′s Vincent because most of them if you drill down end up in only a handful of themes such as I’m not good enough or I’m not worthy etc.

      Undermine the core belief and the others collapse with it.

  • It’s really important to remember that I can change my beliefs (and therefore my reality).


  • The part that I find very interesting is what happens when limiting beliefs get social proof/pressure.

    Then we are left ‘common knowledge’, which is very easy to mistake for a ‘fact’, unless you are able to do your own research on the subject.

    For example, like ‘common knowledge’ that you MUST to eat 5-6 small meals to get in shape (though this particular myth was already debunked on many occasions). Or something even more ‘factual’ – you need to get married to have happy long-term relationship.

    I’d say overcoming self-imposed limiting beliefs is just the first step, overcoming mass delusion/ignorance, now that’s some serious stuff :)


    • Good question mate!

      some beliefs are unconscious and irrational whereas others are purely a lack of information.

      I intend to define the different approaches to remove them in my next post.

  • Tim, Categorically, God exists. Was I first? :)

    No, you are absolutely right, our little brains are very busy creating reality that isn’t at all factual, all of the time.

    One of the obvious ways to snap out of it is to just ask the other party for feedback, if there is another party. That one is ALWAYS interesting and any time I have done it I never get the exact answer I was expecting, thus proving the point.

  • nice post. I will contribute “nada” to the God debate. I prefer to use the idea of my car being on the driveway. I believe / assume that it is. However, that doesn’t mean someone hasn’t come along and snarfed my shiny grey Volvo while I read blogs. Sort of like “beyond a reasonable doubt” type of thing…if I substitute the debate in my head over where the Volvo is for whether or not God is real…I seem to get better traction with this.
    PS Why would anyone be fascinated by an old Ram ?

  • ‘Nothing I do is good enough’ or I’m not enough’ – the number one self-limiting belief that pops up with my clients and myself at times (although far less than it used to).

    My question is….do you think we can overcome limiting beliefs altogether or do you think it is an ongoing process of working through them?

  • Tim, you’re always funny, but “Believing in God is unlikely to be a self limiting belief, unless that is you aspire to be a deity in your own right and rule the Universe, then the competition element may hold you back” made me spit out my coffee ;)

    And I love how you summarized the God debate. I’ve got certain ideas about what seems likely to me — and I imagine there are as many ideas about exactly what’s going on as there are people on the planet…and NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE. I have told my kids that since they were little. Nobody knows!

    As far as trying to weed out all those self-limiting beliefs…well, ah, that’s a life’s work, isn’t it?

  • Amy

    Ahhh, that bit where you talk about how your brain sorts for information to support the belief is so true! My brain does that, and it’s so annoying. Funny thing though is when I hold a ‘good’ belief about myself, my mind may find all the supporting evidence for it, but…it’s like…I think if it’s something good about me…it just can’t be.

    So yeah, need to be more aware of my thoughts, and challenge those self-limiting beliefs.

    Thanks again for the cool post! :) x

  • Those pesky self limiting beliefs can really do a number on us, and many are small enough to go unnoticed over time. What seems to really help me is writing about troubling issues my journal. In fact I often have rousing debates with myself in the process of working out a problem.:-)

  • Shane Bekker

    In short your comment”… whether God does or does not exist… your neither right or wrong…” leaves a person in a very precarious, questionable, judgemental state. God doesn’t limit anyone. Man limits himself. You can’t blame God for that. Man wanted to be smarter than God right from the beginning. Example is found in the book of Genesis in the Garden of Eden. God actually wants to help us stop limiting ourselves. All we have to do is ask him. But I think get that you were trying to separate that which is spiritual from that which is our thinking. God does exist and it is not arrogant for me to believe He does. I won’t get into arguement. If you want me to email you my point a bit better, I will. That’s solely up to you. As for our limiting sub-conscious beliefs, yes the re-wording of a belief has a realisation of the limiting belief and at times what I can do to learn from it. In other words a pro-active response rather than a passive response.

    • LOL – no I don’t really want to get into an e-mail discourse on God, Shane.

      My point was merely that anybody makes a statement like you did that God does exist, unequivocally doesn’t understand the difference between a belief and a fact.

      I’m not saying he doesn’t or he does, but nobody can prove it one way or another, therefore it is a belief.

      You strongly believe God exists, but millions of people as clever and cleverer than you think the opposite. That’s why I see people who refuse to accept it’s a belief (or faith if you like) as either not stopping to think it through, fearful of being wrong and having to question their own faith, or arrogant.

      That’s just my opinion, not a fact ;-)

  • Shane Bekker

    Get the FACTS of limiting beliefs and make the ACTS.

  • Patrick Greene

    I want to present in my mindset, not functioning with defunct traditions that fail under the light of truth vs beliefs, knowing with assurance that within me all things are possible.

  • Patrick Greene

    I want to be present in my mindset, not functioning with defunct traditions and information that fail under belief vs truth, knowing with assurance and confidence that within me ALL things are possible.

  • Sid

    I was confused and anxious, and I jumped to the conclusion that I couldn’t move or walk away from my friend. I’ve stuck by her for 6 years now, and won’t walk alone. I KNOW where my limiting belief came from, and I KNOW it’s irrational. I habitually fear leaving her side. How can I overcome it easily? Any ideas? It’s ruining our lives.