What You Should Know About Your (Limiting) Beliefs + How They Prevent From Reaching Your Full Potential
The following is an excerpt from Elizabeth B Crook’s book Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide To What’s Next on how beliefs can hold you back and how to pay attention to these false limiting beliefs.
One of the most important and surprising things we can do when we want to Live Large is to take a really close look at our personal beliefs.
Beliefs are something you hold to be true, whether they are or not. They are an invisible set of rules that have the power to limit what we can imagine, think, or do. Beliefs can contribute to negative self-talk (the Triple J) and self-defeating actions. But when we see our beliefs clearly, we are able to make choices based on clarity.
Beliefs turn into vows when we experience something emotional or even traumatic and our sense of risk is great.
A vow is a hyperbolized belief, a promise to yourself, a declaration.
We often know we’ve made a vow when always and never turn up in a statement about what we believe. “I will never make that mistake again!”
When I was six, my father was going to take me to magic show in a downtown hotel. You can imagine my excitement. Since my grandmother lived in an apartment in the hotel, my mother took me there to dress before he picked me up.
At six I was a dawdler. I couldn’t seem to do anything fast. I was frequently distracted, and in spite of my mother’s urging, I didn’t get dressed. When my father arrived, I was not ready. So, he left. The tears and floor-pounding went on until I was totally exhausted. I couldn’t believe he had left me.
Of course I was too young to make a conscious vow, but my mother would always say, “Ever since that day her father left her, Elizabeth has never been late.”
Years later, I found myself experiencing anxiety about being late for anything, even when it didn’t matter. How much sense did that make?
Not much, especially when I lived in Latin America where to come “on time” was practically considered rude!
Vows and beliefs come in all different (sneaky) packages.
Understanding the potent ways they show up can help you identify when you have made one. Below are the three different types of vows and beliefs that may be sabotaging you.
1. Vows or beliefs that were true once upon a time:
- My mother told me when I was a child that I was selfish, so I must be selfish.
- When I was a teen I felt unattractive, so now I can’t believe the praise or compliments from others.
- My alcoholic father made our home unpredictable, so now I need to control my situation no matter what.
All that may be true: when you were four, you didn’t want to share your toys. As a teen you felt unattractive, and the braces and pimples didn’t help. It was scary having an unpredictable alcoholic at home, and that made it feel safer to control as much as you could. But circumstances change and once- upon-a-time beliefs like these become irrelevant – yet they still manage to rule our lives.
2. Beliefs that were never true:
For centuries, people believed the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around it. This was a belief that was never true. Just because you learned scholars believed it still didn’t make it so. Your parents probably told you that Santa could see if you were naughty or nice. Just because we believed doesn’t mean this was ever true!
What we call “old wives’ tales” (don’t go out in the cold after a hot shower . . .) provide other examples of beliefs that were never true. Of course, a favorite example is civilization’s belief that the world was flat and if you sailed west from Europe, you would drop off the side. It’s good to remember that it was only when that belief was challenged and discarded that real exploration for a new world began.
3. Beliefs that were true for someone else but not true for you:
Once upon a time, a husband noticed that when his wife cooked a roast she cut the ends off.
When he asked her why, she said that was the way her mother did it. Curious, the young husband asked his mother-in-law why she cut the ends off the roast. The mother-in-law replied that her mother always cooked her roast that way. They both believed this was the way to cook a roast.
A few weeks later, the young man told his wife’s grandmother about the conversations and asked the older woman why she cut the ends off the roast.
She laughed and said, “I don’t know why they cut the ends off their roasts, but I just never had a pan big enough.”
It’s so easy to do something simply because it’s always been done that way.
That roast in the pan is a small example, but it represents much bigger beliefs in our lives that we hold was true at some time for someone else, but not for us, that belief can cripple us physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
Now that you can see some beliefs were never true, no longer true, or not true for you, you may notice how they tend to manage your life, keeping you stuck in patterns that resemble the looped track on a treadmill.
The good news?
Just reading about them can trigger insights about what may be holding you back.
If you can name your particular Limiting Beliefs (we all have them, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of!), you can move forward into the larger life that’s waiting for you. This is some of the most powerful, life-changing work you will do in the book. As you move ahead into the explanations of how Limiting Beliefs show up and the explorations that follow, take them at your own pace.
Do what makes sense for you, and remember: If you show up, you can’t fail.
About the author
Elizabeth Crook is the CEO of Orchard Advisors and the author of the critically acclaimed Live Large: An Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next. Through her own life and her work with high achievers, she knows that in spite of our accomplishments we all have moments of self doubt and hesitation.
For over twenty years, she has helped CEOs and entrepreneurs think and act strategically to grow their companies’ bottom line and have more satisfaction (FUN!). With a lifetime of business experience in different industries, cultures and economic and social environments, she adds value in an ever-changing world where people are facing a bewildering array of choices.
To learn more, visit her website www.ElizabethBCrook.com.