Think you’re not good enough in any way? Read this…

Avoiding Alcatraz: self-limiting beliefs are like a prison

An interesting subject cropped up in a discussion on the ShapingTheOdds community the other day about self-limiting beliefs. It was after Rahfeal Gordon had posted one of his motivational videos, which was basically saying don't give in to self-limiting beliefs, remain focused, do something everyday that takes you closer to your dream and come up with a one-sentence personal statement that clearly summarises who and where you want to be.

It got me thinking about self-limiting beliefs and the work I did a few years ago to eradicate them from my life. Self-limiting beliefs killers. Take my case, as an example. People and companies have been paying me to write all manner of things for the past 20 years – from complicated technical material, catchy straplines, fluffy bunny stuff and even crucial keynote speeches – and they've generally always been more than happy with what I've produced.

Safe to say I can write then. So why did I often find myself thinking that my writing wasn't good enough, which would sometimes cause me to struggle to finish writing assignments? Where did this apparently nonsensical self-limiting belief come from, and why and how had I let it take a hold of my thought patterns? And what other self-limiting beliefs were lurking in the dark recesses of my mind?

I set about finding out one summer a number of years ago when I spent five days and nights alone in a tent in the Welsh mountains with no-one to talk to and only the stars, the hills, the trees, a nearby waterfall and the bleating sheep for company. No Internet and no distractions.

First, I took an A5 sheet of blank paper and a black pen. I drew a figure representing me in the centre. Then, I started to identify the self-limiting beliefs I held about myself and the world at large and I drew a stone with each self-limiting belief written on it and I placed the stones around the figure in the centre of the paper.

Before long there was a fairly tall tower around the figure in the centre of the piece of paper. I now had a powerful visual depicting how my self-limiting beliefs were literally forming a prison around me, keeping me stuck. Today I can't recall all the self-limiting beliefs that formed the stone tower around me – as I burnt the sheet of A5 as part of the process – but I remember identifying about 25 of them.

As part of the process I replaced the self-limiting beliefs for self-empowering ones. So to take the example of writing, this became 'I write well and I live abundantly from my writing'. Not every self-limiting belief disappeared overnight, and I know as I write this that a few still linger, but what I realised about myself and how crippling self-limiting beliefs can be was invaluable.

As soon as I was able to reframe or transform the self-limiting belief about the writing I found that I procrastinated a lot less when I had something important or difficult to write. I also found that I was able to start and finish a piece of writing in one session, not matter how long it took, rather than starting something, putting it down and going back to it a day or two later. And I also found that I was able to churn out content faster than ever. It was literally like the stone tower that I'd created had crumbled and I was free from the self-limiting prison.

I invite you to try this for yourself. Just sit quietly and make a note of any self-limiting beliefs you're lugging around. I use the word 'lug' deliberately, because self-limiting beliefs are heavy weights we lug about that slow us down and make our journey more tedious than joyous.

When you've made a note of them, go through them one by one and reflect upon where they've come from and how they affect you. Make a note of any insights and realisations. Try not to judge yourself. Easier said than done though, I know.

Then find a way that suits you to let them go. For example, if you've written them down on paper you could burn the paper. Fire is a powerful force of swift transformation. If you've typed them on a Word Doc, you could simply delete the document and watch it disappear to your trash bin, then empty that. It's all about the intent you focus on when doing it and the focus you put into that intent. The stronger and more focused the intent, the more effective this work will be. Energy flows where attention goes. Be thankful for having identified the belief and being able to eradicate it.

Don't just leave a vacuum. Find self-empowering beliefs to replace the old limiting ones and devise a way to embody these into your self-talk. Again, you might write them on a piece of paper and keep them close by to read every morning and evening. Observe how you feel during the process and note the improvements that occur for you. Be thankful for this too.

If, as RahGor says, it's good for us to do something every day that takes us closer to realising our dreams, then eliminating self-limiting beliefs has to be the place to start. It's easier to move forward with less baggage. In fact, this is something that can be done periodically, as new self-limiting beliefs can creep in. It's good to do a check from time to time.

On that note I'm off to find out what self-limiting beliefs are lurking within me these days. I wish you well sorting out yours. Here's to self-empowering beliefs that keep us free to follow and realise our dreams.

Until next time,

Thanks for reading,


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