How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs
Of all the obstacles that entrepreneurs encounter, overcoming limiting beliefs is among the most challenging.
Although our thoughts are within our control, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we won’t succeed – that we don’t deserve to do well, that we can’t
compete with others, and that we’re not capable of reaching our goals.
The good news is that since we’re in control of our thoughts, we have the power to change our course. But it does take practice and consistent effort.
That’s the message from Katrina Streatfeild, a clinical psychologist and owner of two private practices. Here she shares some of her best tips.
Know where your limiting beliefs come from
All of our thoughts originate from somewhere. Limiting beliefs may startle or surprise us at times, but we can start to understand them if we identify and examine the source.
You can do this by exploring your experiences and isolating the circumstances or triggers that have made you think poorly of yourself in the past.
It’s also worth noting that many entrepreneurs have the same fears: business owners are often afraid to delegate, nervous about taking charge, worried about
making big decisions, and – surprisingly – scared of success.
Failure frightens us too, but success is even more daunting at times.
Recognise the chemical component of limiting beliefs
The brain is highly complex and sensitive. Katrina explains how chemicals like adrenaline put us in “fight or flight” mode when we feel stressed.
We end up unable to function because we feel paralysed with fear, which only perpetuates the cycle of self-criticism and doubt.
Limiting beliefs aren’t “all in your head” – they’re accompanied by chemical changes in the body that can be debilitating at times.
Exposure can be the best remedy
Instinctively, we shy away from the things that scare us. If we don’t like public speaking, we won’t volunteer to give a presentation. If we think we’re bad at math, we’ll avoid working with numbers.
If we’re uncomfortable around people, we’ll retreat to places where we can be alone. Although these reactions are natural, exposing ourselves to the things that scare us is the only way to overcome our fears.
You don’t have to do this all at once; it’s more effective to approach it by small degrees.
EXAMPLE: If you’re nervous about public speaking, try talking for a couple of minutes during a webinar or Zoom meeting, or practice with a trusted group of friends.
The goal is to push yourself without leaving your window of tolerance, or the area in which you still feel safe.
Within that window of tolerance, you have the benefit of adrenaline pushing you to perform well and stay motivated without it overwhelming you to the point of fear.
If you regularly challenge yourself, you’ll find that each exposure gets easier. Eventually, you’ll be speaking confidently in front of a crowd!
As you work on your limiting beliefs, beware of cultural ideas surrounding success
In first-world countries, it’s common to value success above anything else. Failure is looked down on and viewed as something to avoid at all costs.
However, the process of learning naturally involves failing. No one will make the correct decision every single time or magically have all the answers.
If you’re going through a period of failure, don’t buy into the idea that you’re the only person who has been in that position.
Everyone stumbles multiple times in their lives, and each setback is an opportunity for learning and growth.
Recognise and celebrate your successes
Another first-world misconception surrounding success is that it’s all about money, power, and status. These things may signal success, but they aren’t the definition of it.
Entrepreneurs should recognise that success looks different for each person. You might not have the largest or most profitable business, but perhaps you’re contributing to a great cause.
Maybe you haven’t seen the fruits of your entrepreneurial labours yet, but you crush your to-do list every day. When limiting beliefs threaten to cloud your accomplishments, acknowledge something that went well or celebrate a good decision that you made. Even these small acts of recognition can help you feel better about yourself.
Embracing the discomfort of learning is a key way of dealing with limiting beliefs
Finally, Katrina explains that learning often feels uncomfortable and challenging. It’s not easy to put yourself in a position where you don’t have all the answers.
However, we’re designed to learn and improve – so don’t shy away from growth opportunities, even if they push you beyond your comfort zone.
If you need help during your entrepreneurial journey, listen to our podcast here where we regularly interview experts and cover topics that you’ll find helpful regardless of the stage, you think you are in.
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