Understanding limiting beliefs

Here is a process you can go through to get your entrepreneurial mindset right so you can become the best entrepreneur and the best version of ‘you’ possible.

It all starts with your limiting beliefs

What is a limiting belief and how do I know what mine are? Developing an awareness of what your limiting beliefs are, and beginning to work on removing them, is a great place to start if you want to fly on your entrepreneurial journey.

Limiting beliefs are the messages we tell ourselves about what we are capable of, who we are and how we are able to relate to other people. Our limiting beliefs were formed in childhood, when we picked up messages from our primary carers and influencers (parents, grandparents, teachers, peers, siblings etc). That is not to blame those individuals but is just acknowledging that they were doing the best they could at the time with what they knew but that some of the things we learnt from them in our youth are perhaps not helping us much anymore.

So, let’s take a look at a few messages we may have heard in childhood and how they might have transferred into our limiting beliefs.

Limiting belief examples:

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(Message based from your childhood – description of limiting belief)

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees – I’ll never be rich
  • You are not smart enough to go to University – I am stupid
  • You are not able to do that – I am not good enough
  • Why can’t you tidy your room? – I am disorganised
  • Children must be seen and not heard – I need to be quiet if I am to be accepted

And of course, a whole lot more that are not just going to affect your ability to be an entrepreneur, but could also be affecting the way you run other aspects of your life, such as your personal relationships and health.

Uncovering your limiting beliefs

Start by thinking about an area of your life where you feel you are not fulfilling your potential. This could be work related but does not have to be.  Many limiting beliefs affect more than one aspect of your life. If you start this process with something obvious, when you come to try the process on more well-hidden beliefs, you will find it easier.

  • Think about the ‘problem behaviour’ and think “What is the first negative thought that I have about myself about (state the ‘problem behaviour’)?
  • Make a note of the first limiting belief you think of. This is an I statement e.g. I am lazy
  • Then continue drilling down with the following questions
    • What further negative thought about myself does that lead to?
    • What does that mean about me?
    • What does that say about me?
  • Keep going until you come up with a statement which makes sense to you. There is a good chance you will get a gut reaction to the right limiting belief and a sense that it fits what is going on in your life right now.

Here is an example of how the process might look – remember to note down your answers as you go so you can notice the patterns which form.

  • Question: What’s the first negative thought that I have about not being able to make sales calls?
    • Answer: I’m not very good at selling
  • Question: So, what does that mean about me?
    • Answer: I should give all this up and do something else
  • Question: What does it say about me, that I should give up my business and do something else?
    • Answer:  I don’t deserve success working for myself
  • Question: And what does that say about me, that I don’t deserve success?
    • Answer: That I’m undeserving
  • Question: So, I’m undeserving, what does that mean about me?
    • Answer: I am not worthy
  • Question: And what does that mean about me?
    • Answer: I’m useless
  • Question: And what does that mean about me?
    • Answer: I am not good enough
  • Question: And what does that mean about me?
    • Answer: I am just not good enough to do this

The repetition of a limiting belief is a good sign that you have found the right one. Awareness is a great place to start in terms of limiting beliefs, but here are some further steps to help you eliminate them from your life.

As, I mentioned before, these beliefs were established in childhood but, they were also hardwired throughout our lives because once they became part of us, our minds continually looked for evidence that they were correct. This affected our brains by creating and strengthening neural pathways to make those limiting beliefs truly sticky. But the good news is, that you can rewire your brain in just a few minutes a day.

Changing a limiting belief

Once you have identified your limiting belief, the next step is to decide how it limits you and how you would like to be, do or feel instead. You can then create an affirmation or turnaround statement to help you overcome it and create new pathways in your brain. This is best shown in an example:

  1. My limiting belief is I am not good enough
  2. This affects me because I hold myself back and do not do the key things to move my life forward because I am fearful I will fail
  3. The way I want to feel is confident to do everything I need to do to move my business forward including sales calls
  4. My new empowering belief is I am good enough. I confidently take action every day to achieve my goals

There are 4 rules to creating your affirmations which are worth taking note of:

  1. They should be written in the PRESENT TENSE as if are already true.
  2. They should be PERSONAL starting with the word ‘I’ and not be about anyone else.
  3. They should be POSITIVE, making sure that you state what you do want and not what you don’t.
  4. They should be POSSIBLE for you to achieve.

Once you have your affirmation, the key is to use it regularly and consistently. Repeat it at least 10 times per day out loud, display on post it notes, around your house, in your office and even in your car, have it as your screen saver and even have it stuck to the inside of your phone case. Every time your brain experiences the affirmation, it will start to shift your wiring and after about one month of consistent use, you will notice a difference.

The truth is that very few business owners are ‘perfect’ – we’re all human and we all struggle in certain areas of running a business. If you need help in developing your own thinking then seek out qualified therapists or coaches who can help you.

Blunt thinking on limiting beliefs and the entrepreneurial mindset – from the Yorkshire Powerhouse
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