Limiting Beliefs (Guide + Worksheet + 101 Examples)
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to overcome limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs keep you from reaching your biggest potential.
Limiting beliefs get in the way of what you think is possible for yourself and keep you from living your happiest, most fulfilling life.
So, if you are ready to let go of and clear limiting beliefs that keep you off your best path, then look no further than this guide.
Let’s dive right in.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are what they sound like: beliefs that limit what you believe is possible for yourself or what you will allow in your life.
When you have self-limiting beliefs, you often won’t let amazing things that want to show up in your life show up.
Whatever your limiting beliefs are, they restrict the scope of how you see the world.
Think about how the world looks when looking through the peephole in a door.
The scope is limited, and you can’t really see all that there is to see.
If you were to look at life through that peephole 24/7, how much of life would you miss?
Limiting beliefs act like that peephole.
Limiting beliefs keep you from seeing what is possible for yourself.
Maybe you see your dream job and think, “I am not capable or qualified enough for it,” so you don’t even apply.
Maybe you have let society trick you into thinking you are bad with numbers, so then you don’t even try to manage your money.
Maybe you have been hurt in a relationship, so rather than try again, you say to yourself, “it’s not worth it.”
Limiting beliefs can also keep you from taking action to be your most authentic and powerful self.
Your limiting beliefs can also lead to what is called change blindness. Change blindness keeps you from seeing anything inconsistent with your current reality (the reality created by those pesky limiting beliefs).
In other words, when you have limiting beliefs, you only see what you are prepared to see, nothing more, nothing less.
The good news is, you can change this with the techniques later in this guide!
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
Limiting beliefs comes from the different things that happen in your life.
A lot of limiting beliefs develop in childhood when you aren’t always able to process what happens to you.
When something traumatic happens, the feelings from that moment can remain stuck in your psyche. It then becomes like a skip on a record, stopping you in the same place over and over.
Whatever choice you made to remain safe at that moment, you play out over and over as you grow up.
If you don’t address what happened in your childhood, you might find yourself in your 50s letting what happened when you were a child dictate your big life choices.
Limiting beliefs can also come from your family.
Your family’s belief system plays a significant role in how you view and interact with the world.
Sylvia Lafair, family therapist turned expert leadership consultant, says in her book Don’t Bring It To Work: Breaking Family Patterns that Limit Success that,
We don’t always tailor our actions to the actual demands of a situation.
Instead, we fall back on old ways of responding that are emotionally laden and sometimes horrendously counterproductive.
Adopting behavior we first encountered in our families, we do the same thing over and over again - even if it kills us. We remain imprisoned by our pasts. (p. 21)
The family system you grew up in, for better or worse, powerfully shapes what you believe about life and how you interact with the world.
Within your family system, there are expectations of who you should be and the role you should fill.
Maybe you have always been expected to care for the other members of your family.
Maybe your parents always said or showed it’s not safe to stand out.
Those expectations of who you should be can shape the way that you think about things, both in your family and beyond, if you don’t address them.
These family beliefs and expectations can impact the way you think about money, relationships, work, how happy you think you deserve to be, and more.
Limiting beliefs can also come from relationships with friends or significant others, from experiences at work, or from random interactions.
These beliefs tend to build upon the ones already coming from your family system and your childhood. It’s a double whammy.
Here are some limiting beliefs examples that can impact the way someone sees the world:
If you had a partner who cheated on you or betrayed your trust, maybe you started to think you can’t trust in a relationship because you will only get hurt.
If you had a bad experience with a bank or financial advisor, maybe you decide you can’t trust them.
If you struggled in school growing up, maybe you didn’t feel smart or worthy of success.
In my case, I was born deathly ill with a learning disability, so no matter what I did, I always felt like I wasn’t good enough.
My experiences throughout the years just piled on top of that belief and kept me from stepping into my most powerful self until I recognized the limiting belief created by that childhood experience.
How to overcome limiting beliefs
Overcoming limiting beliefs is easier than you think.
The way that you clear limiting beliefs is by recognizing them and letting go of them.
This section is going to give you clear steps you can use to change limiting beliefs with one of my favorite clearing limiting beliefs techniques.
This limiting beliefs exercise is an abbreviated version of my Open Heart Process, which is a powerful process for clearing self-sabotage and limiting beliefs and living your happiest, most fulfilling life.
(I explain the Open Heart Process in detail here, in my blog on self-sabotage.)
You can get my Open Heart Process clearing limiting beliefs worksheet by entering your email below.
Limiting beliefs exercise
Step 1: Pick a topic you want to clear limiting beliefs around.
Maybe you want to stop limiting yourself at your job. Maybe you want to stop limiting your finances. Maybe you want to stop limiting how happy you can be in your relationship.
It doesn’t matter what you choose as this clearing limiting beliefs technique can be used for anything, but pick the thing that sticks out first.
I’m going to use money as an example.
Step 2: Write down a list of limiting beliefs you have about that topic.
Write down all your beliefs about the topic you chose. It is important to put it all down so you can see what is really going on in the back of your head.
With the example of money, I had no problem coming up with a list of limiting beliefs running through my head:
There is never enough
Save a penny earn a penny
You are always going to run out
Taxes are your worst enemy
The government is after your money
You can’t trust anyone with money
You never get paid back when you loan money
Money is the root of all evil
Money doesn’t grow on trees
(If you need any help identifying limiting beliefs, the last section has 101 examples of limiting beliefs you might have in different areas of your life).
Step 3: Thank these beliefs for how they have protected you.
It may seem counter-intuitive to thank these beliefs - after all, they limited you, right?! - but it is important to honor these thoughts.
They have been your companions for a long time, and they developed in response to the things that have happened in your life.
At some point in your life, that belief served a valid purpose (and most likely no longer serves a valid purpose other than to keep you playing small).
In the money example, maybe the reason you think you can’t trust anyone with money is that you got burned once by someone with money.
That belief developed to keep you from getting burned again!
Thank that belief for protecting you, but recognize that you are enough to move past it and make the right decision in this moment without that running your thoughts.
Step 4: Forgive yourself and others for all the different beliefs you have developed
It’s tempting to look at your limiting beliefs and think about how much they have kept you down all these years.
That can stick with you if you let it.
You need to forgive yourself and others for the events that caused these beliefs.
Forgive yourself for letting them in your life, and forgive others for being the cause of them.
Holding on to the hurt and emotions that can be tied into these limiting beliefs will only keep you playing small.
Forgive yourself and get ready to soar.
Step 5: Give yourself permission to honor your limiting beliefs and move past them.
You have honored these beliefs, and forgiven yourself and others for causing them and living by them.
Now you have to give yourself permission to do what is right for you beyond these beliefs.
You are amazing, and the possibilities in front of you are limitless.
Give yourself permission to tap into those possibilities. Give yourself permission to move beyond these limiting beliefs.
As you do this limiting belief exercise, you should feel the emotions associated with these different beliefs change, and you might even feel lighter energetically.
You can repeat this process with any area in your life that you have limiting beliefs.
As you go through this process, you will start seeing all of the different possibilities available to you, and you will be ready for any opportunities life presents to you.
You don’t have to replace these limiting beliefs with new ones. You just have to sit in the possibilities of each moment and see what’s there for you.
Then, when amazing opportunities present themselves, take action and feel empowered that anything is possible for you!
List of 101 Limiting Beliefs Examples
Limiting beliefs can come from lots of different sources. It can take a while to recognize the different self-limiting beliefs floating around in your head.
To help you get better at identifying beliefs that might be limiting you, here is a limiting beliefs list with 101 limiting beliefs examples.
This list of common limiting beliefs is grouped by different categories.
Limiting beliefs about Money and Abundance
Save a penny, earn a penny.
I never win free things.
I will never get my big break.
There is never enough.
Everyone else gets all the good stuff.
My spouse/the government is after my money.
There is never enough to go around.
I have to protect what I’ve got because there just isn’t enough.
I will never make enough money to support my family.
Money can’t come to me easily.
Earning money requires working really hard.
Money is the root of all evil
Money doesn’t grow on trees
You just can’t trust others with money.
Taxes are evil.
I just don’t know how to manage money
I am bad with money.
Money is made to be spent!
We/I will never be rich.
Rich people are bad people.
Money turns people rotten.
You can’t trust someone who has a lot of money.
Money just doesn’t matter that much to me. I don’t need it!
As soon as I make, I have to spend it!
Money is always on its way out the door.
The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.
Making lots of money requires sacrificing who you are.
I am not worthy of being happy.
Why does this always happen to me?
This is too much for me. I just can’t do it.
The world is cruel and not nice.
I can’t be trusted when things are going well.
To earn money, I have to work very hard.
If I had a better education, I could earn more money.
Limiting beliefs about relationships
I will never find love.
I am not worthy of being loved.
I always get hurt (or dumped, or betrayed).
All the good ones are taken.
No one wants me.
You just can’t trust anybody in a relationship.
My relationships just never work out.
Why don’t I know how to make it work?
I need someone in my life at all times.
I am useless on my own.
I need someone to take care of me.
Putting yourself out there only results in getting hurt.
Why am I so bad at this?
I need to be someone else other than myself for others to like me.
There just isn’t somebody out there for me.
I am not enough on my own.
I need somebody else in my life to make me feel useful
My family is always trying to keep me down.
Doing something besides what my family wants is betraying them.
I can’t do what my family doesn’t want me to do.
I just have to put up with what I don’t like.
I have to do what my parents say or else (even as a grown-up).
Others are going to hate me if I stand up for myself.
Others are just going to step on my toes and I will deal with it.
I need someone to complete me.
Love never works out for me.
I hate rejection.
Limiting beliefs about work
I don’t deserve to make money doing what I love.
It’s impossible to make money doing what you love.
It’s impossible to make money in the arts.
I have to be a starving artist to maintain my integrity.
I am not talented.
I have no special strengths.
I am not good enough.
I am not worthy of that promotion.
I just don’t have enough experience.
Who would want to hire me?!
I just don’t know how to manage big projects.
I can’t be trusted with responsibility.
Whenever I manage things, it just turns out awful.
Everyone else gets the good jobs.
I never get opportunities to take on big projects.
No one listens to me.
I will never find the right job.
All bosses are crappy.
My supervisor is never going to listen to me.
My opinion isn’t important.
Working for the man is soul crushing.
You’re not supposed to like what you do.
No one appreciates me.
Everyone expects too much of me.
I got passed over for a promotion again - it’s just not fair.
My co-workers don’t like me.
Limiting beliefs about self-worth
I am a failure.
I can’t make things happen.
I don’t deserve a better life.
Things just don’t work out for me.
It’s all my parents’ fault.
People look right through me.
That’s just my luck!!
Who am I to have everything I have ever wanted?
Limiting beliefs about good health
My body just heals slowly.
Getting sick is unavoidable.
I don’t deserve to be healthy.
Everyone else in my family is overweight.
Losing weight is the biggest battle of my life.
I am helpless to heal myself.
If any of these beliefs hold true for you, you can use the limiting beliefs exercise above to clear them away.
You can also come up with any other limiting beliefs this list made you think of and clear those too!
Now that you know how to clear and overcome limiting beliefs, and can identify some of them, you will be on you your way to living your best life.
I can’t wait to see what you do!