How to Discover the Limiting Beliefs that Create Self-Sabotage

Imagine walking toward a beautiful, white sand beach. The sky is clear, the sun warm. A soft breeze caresses your skin. You can hear the cheerful sounds of your friends enjoying themselves, having the time of their lives on this perfect day. You are anticipating a long-needed, well-deserved break from the stresses of life!

Suddenly, a police officer appears.

“Do NOT go out on that beach,” his voice is quiet and ominous. “Huh?” You cannot help but stop in your tracks, although you don’t see any evidence that what he says has any merit. “I’m not kidding. Stay off that beach. You can’t go there. That would be a mistake.” “But why?” you reply. Other people are over there. My friends are calling me. They seem to be really enjoying themselves.” “No!” he commands. “You are not allowed.” He looks as if he is about to haul you away. “But I haven’t done anything wrong,” you manage to mutter in confusion. “Don’t be so sure of yourself. You don’t deserve to be out there having a good time like a normal person. I should cuff you right now! You’re scum, and don’t you forget it.” And there went your perfect day… Who is this mysterious officer bent on ruining your life? He is a symbol of your limiting beliefs.

What are limiting beliefs?

A belief is an experience of certainty. Beliefs are made of inner images, sounds and feelings. What you see, hear and feel on the inside forms the belief. The belief, perhaps along with other beliefs, serves as an attitude or “lens” through which you perceive the world. If you were to perceive and respond to the world from the perspective of the police officer, you would experience the world in a very limited way. With the police officer’s attitude streaming through your mind and body, your options and capacity to enjoy life disappears.

How to Discover Which Limiting Beliefs Affect You

Here are some steps that will help you discover which limiting beliefs hold you back from the success, peace, and enjoyment that you desire. 1. Choose a goal or direction in life. Make plans or set a goal. You need to determine a positive direction for yourself with a clear path forward.  This could be related to a new diet, career, a new business, or a new commitment of any kind. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A goal such as, I am going to exercise 30 minutes every weekday, is perfectly clear. 2. Move forward, full steam ahead. Discovering which limiting beliefs affect you is not a cerebral process. It is a mind-body experience. You learn a lot (if you pay attention) en route toward your goals. Once you get yourself moving down the path, then you’ll get to discover which obstacles may be lurking there. So, get moving. Go after what you want! Each day, exercise for 30 minutes! 3. Notice what happens next. When moving down the path toward what you want, one of two things will happen:
  1. You will begin to experience success
  2. You will sabotage your success.
If you succeed, keep going! Each day you exercise, celebrate (not with a box of Twinkies, I hope) and plan to continue. If you sabotage yourself by unnecessarily skipping your exercise sessions, you have now encountered your first obstacle. It is critical to treat the sabotage as a learning experience about your limiting beliefs. At this point, you must discover the internal attitude that drove you to sabotage your plan. In other words, you need to find the belief. Remember, beliefs are made of what you see, hear and feel on the inside. So, pay attention. In your moments of sabotage, what thoughts and feelings passed through your mind and body?

Therein lies your limiting belief!

Let’s say that after a couple of days, you blow it by watching TV instead of exercising. As you made that choice, what thoughts or feelings were passing through your consciousness? Below are some common examples: • An inner voice: Ah who cares. I can’t do this anyway. • A feeling in the solar plexus that says: I am not worth it. • An image of a critical parent looking down his nose at you as if to say: You’ll just screw it all up eventually anyway. The key is to relax, slow down and take yourself off auto-pilot. As you pay attention to your inner experience, you will discover the message. Within the message is the belief that drove your self-sabotage.

What next?

Now you know that you harbor a specific, limiting belief that prevents you from accomplishing your goal. This will not necessarily solve the problem, but it is a critical first step. Imagine showing up to a life coach or and saying, “I have a goal to exercise, but believe I am not worth the effort required to follow it. I need to believe I am worth it.”
Mike Bundrant is an NLP trainer who integrates modern Zen practices into his work. For a free personal development mini-course, visit the iNLP Center.

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7 Responses to How to Discover the Limiting Beliefs that Create Self-Sabotage

  1. Anonymous says:

    What if my limiting belief is that I am lazy?

  2. +-Life. says:

    Thanks for this article!

    I’ve always believed that self-limiting beliefs are all about what I occupy my mind and what I allow my mind to be occupied with.

    As unpopular as this opinion sounds, I believe that we have the capability to limit the amount of negative thoughts and consciously make efforts to increase positive thoughts and affirmations.

  3. Good article, Mike. It’s all too often that we limit ourselves, usually without even realizing it. Unfortunately, we’re terrible at judging ourselves and our capabilities, and we’re also the only ones who have any incentive to hold us back.

  4. mikala says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog, thanks for sharing your thoughts. My question I have for you is what do you believe is the best way to keep yourself accountable for these goals you set? Sometimes recognizing that you need to make a change and setting goals are not the difficult part, the challenge is following through.

  5. Robert says:

    The limiting conditions are based on logic. Your current logic. The logic was dictated by those who raised us from birth and from the people around us.

  6. Dogfight 2 says:

    Too bad I learned about this so late, hope in the future I will remember to visit your blog.

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