I’ve been going down a bit of a deep rabbit hole lately on behaviour change theory, both from the perspective of how we can help others make positive changes in their lives but also from a personal growth angle. One of the concepts I’ve been exploring is limiting beliefs. The stories we tell ourselves, either consciously or not, that limit our ability to realise our potential either by holding us back from progress or keeping us stuck firmly to where we are.
These could be stories about ourselves that we carry with us from childhood. Maybe you had a bad teacher in primary school who squashed all your creativity and made you feel like that wasn’t for you. Maybe you were a middle child who felt ignored, that kind of stuff. But the stories can also be about how we think of other people and how we are positioned in relation to them. Views we might have inherited from other people or come to all by ourselves. Like stories about money. Maybe you believe being wealthy is the only path to attaining fulfilment and achieving success . Or you maybe you believe that being wealthy is incompatible with living a meaningful and well grounded life. I don’t know, they’re your stories. The point is, you don’t have to know they’re there for them to influence your behaviours, your actions and your choices.
This short video from Practical Psychology goes through ten examples of limiting beliefs, ranging from being judgemental to fear of being judged, to learned hopelessness and shame and a few more in between. I think it’s safe to say each of us would be able to recognise at least a few examples of these types of beliefs in our own lives, if not all ten.
Why does this matter?
As I shared last week in Sunk costs and mid career dips, the first step to achieving real progress is recognising that it’s worth pushing through the dip and through to the other side rather. But getting through the dip is haaaaaaaaaard. It might sound wanky or woo woo or whatever, but getting through it requires you to actively work on your mindset, and that starts with recognising some of these limiting beliefs and the power that they have on results.
He’s not to everyone’s taste, but this stuff is Tony Robbins bread and butter. Truthfully, his style doesn’t gel with me at all, but I find that if the person irritates me and the ideas shine through well then that must really be saying something about the quality of the idea. And the theories he explains make total sense to me, so I’m going with it. In this video clip, he’s talking to two guys who are apparently successful in the tech world (I don’t know who they are but one of them drives fancy cars and they both make lots of money), about the influence of beliefs on outcomes.
If you don’t want to watch it, let me summarise the key message for you…
Everyone has unlimited potential, but it doesn’t always translate to delivering amazing outcomes. In order to realise your potential and achieve successful results, you have to take action. But most people have a belief about what their potential is, regardless of what you tell them. And it’s these beliefs that influence how much action they take, which obviously in turn effects your results. Achieving a poor result even if you’ve taken action then reinforces those beliefs, and you get the idea of how the cycle feeds itself.
So if you want to achieve different outcomes it starts with ditching the limiting beliefs and picking up some empowering ones. This isn’t an exercise that’s just for the vision board, mantra on the mirror types, us sceptical (or maybe cynical) types can benefit from it too.
If you want to read a bit more about moving beyond limiting beliefs, the Tony Robbins site has some good resources like this. If you dislike Tony Robbins so much that you can’t even bring yourself to entertain the idea, then perhaps you’ve just found one of your limiting beliefs (you’re welcome ).
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