Success by Elimination: Removing Self-Limiting Beliefs

Success means different things to different people. For a footballer, it might be winning a football match, or for a blogger, it might be writing a post that attracts a lot of links. Although successes as we define them can be different, there is one common force that stops people achieving them: self limiting beliefs.

When there's a number of people who will happily jump on your case to tell you that you can't do things or won't amount to anything, it puts into perspective how pointless self-limiting beliefs really are. In this post I am going to share why we have self-limiting beliefs and how to remove them from your thinking.

Defining your Success

I've already made clear that everybody has their own definitions of success so I'm not going to preach that point here. What I do want to cover is that defining your success really should be your success. Just because you see someone like Bill Gates making billions through software or Google controlling the online ad market, it doesn't mean you have to follow them.

In-fact, I think the worst thing you could do would be to aim for success in an area that you have no passion for. Not only because of wasted time, but for doing yourself dis-justice in terms of not finding out what you really want to achieve. Success can also be in areas outside your career, it can be in helping someone else to achieve something or just becoming a better person in general.

There are 6 main factors to success as defined by Peter Clemens:

  1. Have a definition of what success means to you
  2. Don't expect things to come to you, you have to work for them
  3. Instead of thinking what you can achieve for yourself, focus on how you can help others
  4. Keep an abundance mentality in that there are enough ideas, opportunities and profits to go around
  5. Have something to drive you to keep going, whether it be supporting your family or improving your current lifestyle
  6. Assign goals, they have been proven to help people succeed over those who do not assign them

Why do we have Self-Limiting Beliefs

It is clear that doubting ourselves and thinking we aren't going to succeed at something is probably the best way to fail before we've even started. So if that is the case, why do we have self-limiting beliefs in the first place? When you think about this more clearly, the answer is very simple: social conditioning. When we were babies or young children, did we have self-limiting beliefs then? If we did, I certainly wouldn't have believed I could be a world class footballer or that my friends really could become astronauts.

When people tell you that you can't do something often enough, you start to believe it and question whether you can. After-all, how can all these people be wrong and you be the one who is right? Thankfully, the effect society plays on our minds didn't affect every human who has walked this planet, as the world would be a much lesser place. I don't want it to seem like I think societal reactions are a bad thing. When you have a big dream that will probably be difficult to achieve, people want the best for you and don't want to see you wasting time or potentially failing something when you could be taking a safer option.

Besides the feedback from society, laziness and a quitter mentality can be a great way to fuel our self-limiting beliefs. We often want to take the easier option and then make the difficulties an excuse for why we never achieved our dreams. If that is convincing enough for you on your deathbed then so be it, however, I'm willing to work hard to do the things I want to do. I accept the challenge.

Removing Self-Limiting Beliefs

The following are some steps that have helped me vastly improve my life by ridding myself of limiting beliefs and achieving things I never thought I could do.

1. Don't settle for second best

If you were to ask yourself honestly whether you would settle for second best in any area of your life before knowing what you wanted to focus on, more often than not the response would be no. Then, why when it comes to achieving something you are passionate about or really want to get “handled” would you allow yourself to be put off by your thoughts?

In my honest opinion, there is actually no such thing as failure, the main reason I used the word in this post is so you can understand what I'm referring too. However, it is much better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. If everybody allowed their head to prevent them from doing things then the world would be a very different place, not one I would want to live in.

Man has travelled into outer space, we have invented medicines to cure diseases and we have turned power from the sun into energy. Whatever you are aiming for, don't think that it is too far out of your reach and most certainly don't take the easy route because that is exactly what it is, the easy route. Go at your obstacles full-throttle and don't stop till you've achieved what you set out to do. Only then can you be truly happy with the results.

2. Set out goals and how you will achieve them

While we may have a core inner feeling of what we want to achieve and some of the steps to get there, it can be far easier to process things if you write them down. The benefit to this is that you begin to see how possible it is to succeed, if taken in small steps and planned out – you can do anything.

For each goal you have defined, whether it be an income level, a website traffic level or an exam mark; define the steps you are going to take to achieve it and follow them as closely as possible. Don't be afraid to change your goals or steps as you progress, you may even find that with your new positive outlook your overall goals begin to differ.

3. Find ways to motivate yourself

Even with this blog I've had doubts about whether I can achieve the goals I've set out to achieve. Some of the doubts are that there is too much competition, I'm not old enough to offer advice to others or I don't have enough life experience to be of help. I now see that my position of youth actually gives this website a unique perspective and a wider view of the world that hasn't been tainted by – negative – social conditioning to begin with.

There will always be times in a project where you have doubts so setting motivations can be a great solution, some motivation ideas include:

  • Having a defined reason you are doing what you are doing, that you can look back on for reference if you lose track i.e. this blog is to help more people find their identity
  • Consider what else you would be doing; if you gave up you would be back to square one and make all the hard work worthless
  • Realise that nothing in this world that is worth anything ever came to anyone easily or without any effort

4. Realise that you own your self-limiting belief

Here's an interesting possibility, what if you could simply change your self-limiting belief instantly. Or something even more interesting, do you realise that your self-limiting belief is just a thought inside your head. Therefore, if you are able to think negatively about something, you can instantly change that to think positively about something.

Try it right now, think of something you've achieved in life you didn't think you would do. Whether it is something most would consider simple like finishing college or challenging like winning an award in gymnastics. Now what if I were to tell you that you couldn't do it (even though you already have), you wouldn't believe me, right? Therefore, if you put your current self-limiting belief under the same spotlight you can simply flip it into a positive challenge because you control what it is, you are only limited by your own thoughts.

Unless your belief is something that was given to you, which means you are heavily influenced by society, it is something you've put on yourself and something you can take away from yourself just as easily.

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