Breaking Through Limiting Beliefs, Embracing True Reflection

By Susanna Kenyon-Muir

Limiting beliefs are convictions that constrain our actions and thoughts, effectively shaping our reality by influencing our perceptions and behaviours. These self-imposed barriers often stem from past experiences, societal conditioning, and cognitive biases. Understanding the science behind limiting beliefs can help us dismantle these mental roadblocks, enabling us to realise our full potential.

The Formation of Limiting Beliefs

Neurological Basis

The human brain is a complex organ that constantly interprets and processes information to make sense of the world. Neurons, the brain’s communication cells, form networks based on repeated experiences and thoughts. When we repeatedly think or experience something, the neural pathways associated with those thoughts or experiences become stronger, making them more likely to recur.

Limiting beliefs often originate from negative experiences or repetitive negative thoughts. For example, if a person repeatedly fails at a task, their brain forms a strong neural network around the belief that they are incapable in that area. This is a survival mechanism; the brain tries to protect us from future harm by reinforcing the idea that avoiding certain actions or situations is safer.

Similarly, if someone repeatedly hears negative statements about their abilities (from parents, teachers, peers, or even themselves), they are likely to internalise these statements as truths. This conditioning can create deep-seated limiting beliefs that shape their self-perception and behaviour.

The Impact of Limiting Beliefs

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is a conflict between one’s beliefs and actions. For instance, if someone believes they are not good at public speaking, but their job requires them to give presentations, they will experience discomfort. To reduce this dissonance, they might avoid opportunities to speak publicly, thus reinforcing their limiting beliefs and hindering personal and professional growth.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that causes itself to become true. If a person believes they will fail at a task, they might unconsciously act in ways that lead to failure, thus confirming their belief. This cyclical process is driven by the brain’s tendency to seek consistency between beliefs and experiences.

Practical Steps to Overcome Limiting Beliefs

  1. Acknowledge Your Achievements:
    Start by acknowledging your accomplishments, big or small. Keep a journal or list of your achievements and skills. When you’re feeling like you can’t do it, revisit this list to remind yourself of your capabilities and the hard work you’ve put in.
  2. Challenge Negative Self-Talk:
    Pay attention to your inner dialogue. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively about your abilities, pause, take note and reframe those thoughts to a positive statement. Importantly, ask yourself for evidence to support or contradict your beliefs. Often, you’ll find that there’s more evidence for your competence than you initially thought!
  3. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity:
    Reframe your view of failure. What I mean by this is, that instead of seeing it as a reflection of your incompetence, view it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Many very successful people have experienced setbacks on their journey to success.
  4. Set Realistic Expectations:
    Be mindful of setting achievable goals and expectations for yourself. Understand that it’s okay not to be perfect, and nobody expects you to have all the answers all the time.
  5. Seek Feedback and Validation:
    Reach out to mentors, colleagues, or friends for feedback and validation of your skills and accomplishments. Often, external perspectives can help you see your abilities more clearly, diminish feelings of fraudulence and provide encouragement.
  6. Celebrate Your Successes:
    Don’t ever downplay your achievements. Make sure that you celebrate your successes, whether they’re big or small, to help build your confidence. Recognise that you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
  7. Practice Self-Compassion:
    Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges. Be gentle with yourself when you make mistakes or face difficulties.

Limiting beliefs are powerful psychological barriers that can prevent us from achieving our intentions. However, understanding the science behind these beliefs provides a pathway to overcoming them. By leveraging the steps above and taking proactive steps, we can rewire our brains, break free from limiting beliefs, and realise our full potential.

About Susanna Kenyon-Muir

Life and Career Coach – Coaching By Susanna

Susanna is a transformational life and career coach dedicated to helping corporate professionals design and live lives they genuinely love, in alignment with their authentic selves. With a worldly perspective gained from her experiences working in the corporate sector across the globe, both in large and startup technology organisations, she possesses a deep understanding of individuals and the dynamics of the corporate world. As the visionary behind ‘Coaching by Susanna,’ she not only provides expert coaching but also amplifies inspiring success stories through her podcast; ‘On Being You – with Susanna.’ She has recently launched wellness retreats designed to empower individuals in crafting their ideal lives.