Identifying and Overcoming Your Self-Limiting Beliefs (part 1)

Have you ever known someone who always seems to come up just a little short of their goals? Have you ever observed someone who is deeply committed to accomplishing something, and they come right up to the point of success, only to have something go wrong at the finish line time and time again?

Maybe that’s exactly how you feel.

Life coaches see this pattern quite frequently—in fact, it’s one reason why a lot of people seek out a life coach. Career coaches like me use life coaching techniques to create a mindset of success for their clients—but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging for some. Over and over, we watch people come up to the point of breakthrough, only to fall just short—to effectively snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Sometimes, it’s a subtle change of heart or a loss of confidence; other times, it’s outright self-sabotage.


I don’t want to dive too deeply into what we call “power of mind” here, but in a manner of speaking, that’s what we’re dealing with. These people I’m describing aren’t suffering from bad luck, or any luck at all. They’re biggest resistance is in their own minds—something we call self-limiting beliefs.

What Do We Mean by Self-Limiting Beliefs?

I’m not speculating here as to whether the mind has the power to alter physical reality, as some people believe mentalists can do. What I can say is that belief is a powerful thing, and when we believe something strongly enough, we begin to shape our own reality around that belief. We fulfill our own prophecies because we believe them.

In other words, if you believe you always get the short end of the stick…you’ll reinforce that belief every time makes you feel that way, and before long, that’s all you’ll see.

If you believe something you desire is too much for you, or that you somehow don’t deserve it, you’ll subconsciously do something to keep yourself from attaining it—no matter how much it hurts not to have it.

If you believe you can’t get the resources you need in order to succeed, you’ll remain stuck—not because you couldn’t actually get those resources, but your beliefs won’t allow you to try.

If you believe you don’t have what it takes to succeed in business…you’ll probably fail.

See what I mean? These are self-limiting beliefs—the things you believe about yourself that stop you from pushing past the threshold into something new. Even though you may desperately want the thing you don’t believe you can have.

What Beliefs Are Holding You Back?

I’d like to invite you to do a little exercise for yourself, though it might be a little difficult at first. Do a little soul-searching and try to identify some self-limiting beliefs that you may hold about yourself. They may have nothing to do with your career or your job—they probably have more to do with your desires as a person. So start there; try to jot down at least three or four negative things you believe about yourself (there may even be more). They might sound something like these:

  • I’ll never be ____ enough. (pretty, strong, smart, wealthy, etc.—fill in the blank with your own word)
  • I won’t find a soulmate.
  • I’ll never be able to afford to go back to school.
  • I can’t convince anyone that I’m good enough.
  • I don’t have enough talent to compete.
  • I don’t have enough confidence.
  • Taking risks never works for me.

Again, this won’t be an easy assignment, but trust me, it’ll get better. Make this list, set it aside, and in the next post we’ll revisit this list and talk about some ways you can overcome these self-limiting beliefs.