Limiting Beliefs

How to Beat the Plague of Limiting Beliefs

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that limiting beliefs are, well… limiting. Duh, right?

Well, they’re not just limiting. They ruin lives. They keep us from being authentic and living the way we really want to live.

There are many times where I’ve wanted to say something, tell someone how I really feel. But I hold back. Why? Because I’m afraid of how they’ll respond. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m weird. What’s worse, is they might have similar beliefs. That could make things even more uncomfortable. So I keep my mouth shut. I stay quiet and try to forget about whatever it was that I really wanted to say. Or I just say something expected, something safe. And I feel like a little bit of my soul is repressed.

A more specific example is with my music. I play drums, djembe to be specific. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, and I’ve always liked rhythm. (Just ask my wife how much I tap on things.) For the longest time, I thought I didn’t have any rhythm. I thought because I was a white boy, it would be really hard for me to play the drums (white boys supposedly can’t dance, so why should they have any rhythm?). Anyway, I had all these limiting beliefs about what it was I could and couldn’t do and it held me back. I would practice and practice but I would still fumble and be off-beat. It wasn’t until I let go of my limiting beliefs about whether or not I had rhythm, that I started to really improve my playing.


Am I the only one that thinks that’s crazy?

There was nothing physically holding me back from being a good drummer. I practiced all the time (if you have two hands and knees to tap them on, you can practice drumming anywhere). I honed my skills. But I still wasn’t playing as well as I could until I started believing that I could be good.

The takeaway is this:

The majority of the time there is no physical limitation to your success. There is only mental limitation.

That mental limitation is not anything based on reality. You can choose to accept it, or leave it at anytime you wish.

If we’re going to beat the plague of limiting beliefs, we need some tools help us. Here are a few things that have helped me overcome these restrictive vampires:

1. Most limits are imaginary. Most limitations we have with ourselves aren’t real, they are simply imagined. If you realize this, it’s a lot easier to drop these beliefs. It’s hard to stick with something that you know is only an illusion.

2. Question authority. We have an unnatural habit of thinking that the norm is some unbreakable standard that we should never question. If you want to break out of the pattern of limiting beliefs, you have to question the authority that they came from. Who said you couldn’t do what you want to do? Why are you giving them the right to dictate your life?

3. Listen to your heart. The practical mind will usually weigh the likelihood of an occurrence based on the past. Forget what you’ve done in the past, listen to your heart. Learn to see with your heart, as well as your mind.

4. Temporary drop unwanted beliefs. You don’t have to do it permanently. I know giving up these beliefs can be scary at first, because we identify with them. We think if we lose this belief, a part of us too is lost. Well, I’ve got some news for you. You are not your beliefs. You are much more than that. And so what if you contradict yourself? In the words of Walt Whitman “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Drop your limiting beliefs for a while about what you think you are capable of. Drop limiting beliefs about what you think is even possible. You can always go back if you don’t like it. But have the courage to see for yourself. If you like what you find, maybe you’ll find it makes more sense to have liberating beliefs. Ones that lift you up and give you wings. Not ones that keep you tethered to the ground.

Jonathan is the author of Illuminated Mind. His articles include Living Freestyle; Life Without a Template and Liberate Your Life: Put Yourself on Auto-Response. You can subscribe to his here, or get more from him on twitter.

23 Responses to How to Beat the Plague of Limiting Beliefs

  1. Thanks you Jonathan for your insight… another great article. Since we all have them, it is such a nice reminder to have ways to begin to change and release our limiting beliefs.

  2. Max says:

    Good article. I think everyone is suffering from mental limitation.
    Most times when I just drop these beliefs for a short time they feel like my very own genius moments.
    I’m definetly looking forward to have more of these moments.

  3. Neil says:

    Fantastic article. I know that in my personal case I’m afraid to do more than I could because then I might be successful. I’m comfortable right now, if I suddenly become more successful things will change. Of course the ironice thing is I desire to be more successful in certain area’s of my life, but the fear of the change that it will bring holds me back. It’s a rather self defeating view that I have and one that I’m working to change.

  4. Great. Always follow your passions. No one can say that they are right or wrong they belong to you. Once you follow that passion it becomes easier to accomplish because this is something you really want to do or something you feel your suppose to be doing, your purpose. When you have a passion or burning desire you can set a path and push full force ahead.

  5. The problem is that most people stifle new ideas without ever giving them a chance to flourish. One of the biggest things that held me back in life was my limiting belief about what was possible. I was always talking about how I couldn’t do this or how I couldn’t be that. Is it really surprising to see that what I believed actually came true?

    We all need to start seeing the world from a different perspective. That comes from going out everyday and keeping our eyes open to all the possibilities. It comes from learning new and exciting things that force us to stretch our minds and move outside our comfort zones.

    Put practically, there are a lot of ways to do that. Turning off the TV would be a good start. Pick up a book, a newspaper, or a magazine that doesn’t have yet another celebrity’s drinking problem on the cover. Go to a museum, a gallery, an exhibit, a film festival, a theatrical production, a classical concert, or a jazz concert. Take a dance class, a cooking class, or even an investment class. Do a crossword puzzle. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Learn a language, learn an instrument, or plan an exotic holiday just for fun. Phew! I’m sure you get the idea.

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  7. gazzali says:

    Great post by Jonathan

    this is what i am exactly want to find out what is that to push our selves beyond what is possible.


  8. Jonathan have you seen the “The Visitor“? It’s a very moving film in which a a young, Syrian musician strikes up an unlikely friendship with a college professor and ends up giving him drumming lessons on a djembe. It has just come out on DVD, so if you haven’t seen it keep an eye out for it. I highly recommend it :).

  9. Try this, all thoughts are imaginary.

    Taken to the extreme you can see where the value of thought is and is not.

  10. Vincent says:

    When we think that we can’t achieve something, we immediately put a stop to our growth. But if we believe whole heartily that we are bound to be successful the more it will be possible.

    Personal Development Blogger

  11. Stephen says:

    “There is only mental limitation.”

    Very nice. I guess I must ask myself – who is in control? Me or my beliefs?

    One thing with beliefs is sometimes they can be tricky when we are not even aware that we have particular beliefs. I guess that is where self-awareness comes in.

    Thanks for sharing!


  12. Yes. nice thing to read on a Sunday night. Up and at ’em tomorrow. time to raise Hell!

  13. Energetic Tim says:

    Thank you for posting this good article. I am a cancer survivor and I am living proof that positive thinking and the power of the mind is absolutely amazing. When I had cancer, for some reason I saw cancer not as a life threatening disease but a cumbersome illness. I thought of it as a very very long dragged out bad cold. That was the thought I had in my mind when I was going through treatment and my doctors said my reactions towards the treatment were very positive. Even the clinical psychologist at the hospital said I was very positive about my ordeal. Your mind and your beliefs can truly alter your life and the way you see things. Every time I step out on the basketball court nowadays, I imagine that I am Jason Kidd or Michael Jordan and because I believe I can do it, I play very well against my friends. If you believe you can do it, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

  14. Tanks for good article. I linked it!

  15. Good on you.

    My horizons were originally broadened by juggling. It was the first time that I realised that I lieterally do anything I wanted.

  16. Ruth says:

    You are so right about limitations being in the mind. I’ve been reading Living Life As If Thinking Matters by R. L. Wysong and am learning from it that we need to be questioning our beliefs always so that we learn to rely on our own thoughts and not those that we have had fed to us over the course of our lives. It’s amazing how so many of our limiting beliefs are really the beliefs of others that we’ve just accepted as belonging to us.

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  18. Jun Loayza says:

    Great post Jonathan! Just wanted to share our video interview with everyone.

    You can check out the interview here

    Jonathan goes into great detail about his blogging progression and how he has been able to make a name for himself in such a short time.

    Hope everyone enjoys it!

    Jun Loayza

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  20. Janet says:

    It seems to me that the biggest stumbling block is to realize that it is just MY BELIEF that I am reacting to. A sort of lens through which I am interpreting what is going on. When I can become aware of that, it is much easier to focus on the greater possibilities.

    Good article.

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  22. limiting beliefs says:

    Excellent article!

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