Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs
Updated: Mar 3
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wHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES
We all have stories that we tell ourselves about why we can't, or shouldn't, do something.
The little voices inside your head that stop you from being able to let go of something, changing your habits, reaching a goal, or even why you're not very good at something.
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right" - Henry Ford.
WHAT ARE LIMITING BELIEFS
These stories, voices, lies, excuses, negative thoughts - whatever you want to call them - are often referred to as limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs can hold us back from the changes we desperately seek in life. They stop us from moving forward and achieving our goals, growing as a person and living our fullest lives. Chasing what we want and what we are more than capable of. They keep us stuck - they can also keep our homes and lives cluttered!
Limiting beliefs are often hard to recognise in ourselves. Lodged deep down in our psyche, hidden beneath the surface, unknowingly controlling many of our decisions and emotions - our doubts, fears and insecurities.
These belief systems are simply habitual thoughts that we believe to be true. We've repeated them to ourselves so often that the cognitive connections within our brains associated with the thought become stronger and stronger until they are so strong that the negative thought or limiting belief becomes an unconscious habit - just like brushing our teeth in the mornings. This is called Cortical Thickening.
"It's not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life; it's what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!" - Robert T. Kiyosaki.
EXAMPLES OF LIMITING BELIEFS
There are endless examples of limiting beliefs - for all areas of our lives. How we feel about our self, money (I can't afford to), love and relationships (I can't find love), career (I could never start my own business) or even ones that prevent you from living in a home you love being in!
In this post, I am going to focus on examples linked to clutter and disorganisation. Part of my job as a Professional Organiser is listening to the limiting beliefs that my clients may have. Helping them to become aware of these and then working through them one by one so they can finally let them go and move forward towards their goals.
Of course, there are practical reasons why we struggle with clutter and disorganisation, but so often, it's also a mental battle with our limiting beliefs.
I need to keep this 'just in case'; I haven't got time to declutter; I don't know how to; I'm not very good at; I can't afford to, I'll be happy I kept that; I'm just not a tidy person...
HOW LIMITING BELIEFS KEEP US STUCK
Limiting beliefs like these will stop you from enjoying your home - and living life to the fullest!
The age-old stories and excuses that we tell ourselves (and the ones that we've been told) - "I'm too young, too old, I don't have enough... money/experience/insert here" - keep up playing small and with our realising can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When we are overwhelmed by clutter (or anything else in life), it's easy to fall into a cycle of anxiety, fear and negative self-talk, which leaves us feeling stuck and less able to change the situation we are overwhelmed by. Clutter especially can make you feel some big emotions that can be hard to navigate your way through.
Nobody wants to engage in activities that they think they are no good at or may fail. So if you're telling yourself you're not an organised person, you're never going to find the motivation to do it. When we say "I'm disorganised", we tend to ACT like a disorganised person.
Limiting beliefs and past negative experiences get stuck in our energy body and perpetuate subconscious behaviour patterns - unless we get the opportunity to challenge them.
Our beliefs about ourselves and our circumstances can prevent positive change from happening.
Unless we take the opportunity to challenge our thoughts, it is unlikely that our situation will change.
That is why decluttering is such a powerful process because it does just that. When we are able to let go of some of the emotional and mental baggage and find that it is ok to let go of that stuff, the material things cluttering up our lives become easier to let go of - and vice versa.
It's so important to understand and overcome any uncomfortable, unhelpful or limiting beliefs, emotions or behaviours around all life areas relevant to decluttering - like your relationship with money, health, life events, your family, self-image and confidence, etc.
"If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you" - Louise Hay.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Now that you have started to identify your limiting beliefs, you can begin to think about where they may have come from and how they may have formed in the first place. Who or what planted the seeds within you?
Our beliefs start forming at an early age. Our parents, upbringing, environment, education and life experiences - millions of little messages have all come together to create who we are today.
It's human nature to give meaning to experiences. Just like positive experiences add to who we are, any negatives experiences tell us to be fearful, cautious and careful—building walls within us for protection - which can also manifest in our attachment to things.
If you don't believe you can start your own business, the root cause/s maybe not believing in your capability and lacking self-confidence; seeing other businesses fail, or the people around you not believing that you can be successful in your business.
If you don't believe that you can find love, it could be that your parents divorced when you were growing up, you witnessed people around you in toxic relationships, or you have been through a horrible break up yourself.
we will always find what we're looking for
Another habit that attaches itself to limiting beliefs is looking for evidence to support them.
For example; Maybe you kept your grown-up children's Halloween costumes, and now 20 years later, your grandchildren have finally worn them this year - so in your mind, you can justify and have evidence to support this limiting belief that you had of 'I can't get rid of this - I might need it one day' was right.
But the truth is that these few moments of pride that you can provide something is not worth the stress and suffering that living in a cluttered home for years on end will make you feel. But because your belief is "I'm going to be thankful I keep that", you're only looking for evidence to support that - not for evidence to support letting go of clutter.
When we have a limiting belief, we continually see things to reinforce that thought because we are looking for that evidence. The things we tell ourselves tend to happen because we love to prove ourselves right!
WHAT you can see, you can change
Limiting beliefs are funny old things - it seems that the bigger they are, the more difficult they are to see.
The challenge is that we can't fix things we can't see. We must dig deep to uncover what is truly holding us back - or we will never be able to achieve our goals (declutter our home, start our own business, make more money, travel the world!), fulfilling our potential or live the life we deserve.
Rewriting our story and changing our beliefs is a challenge. I'm not going to say it will be easy.
Changing our habits is hard enough - changing our beliefs goes a little deeper as our beliefs lay as a base for our habits, thoughts, behaviours and actions. But, it is something that you can do - "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right" 😉.
"Limiting beliefs are like weeds; if allowed to grow out of control, they will strangle the life out of your dreams. Don't let that happen. Instead, see them for what they are; warped views of reality that, with the right tools, can quickly be dismissed" - Shaa Wasmund.
If you find yourself putting obstacles in the way of your goals, here are some tips to help you to find out what deep-seated beliefs are getting in the way of you achieving what you want, and how to let them go.
Recognise your Limiting Beliefs
The first and most important step is learning to recognise your limiting beliefs when they pop into your head and acknowledge them.
Write them down
Once you become aware when they pop up, start to write them down - or say them out loud.
Studies have shown that we are much more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down. I'm a big believer in the power of writing things down, so I think it's pretty important to write down what we are trying to change in ourselves too.
When you write them down or even say them out loud, you start to take away their power.
Bringing your beliefs to the surface makes it easier to recognise just how limiting they are. When you look at them written down, it's easy to see how many of our beliefs don't make any sense - let alone hold up to scrutiny.
Focus on one goal/life area or category at a time.
Take some time to write down all the limiting beliefs that you find yourself saying relating to this area of your life - no matter how small they may seem.
Grab a piece of paper or page in your planner/ journal, and write down any negative thoughts and beliefs. It can just be words or phrases. Be truthful, and don't overthink it - just write down what pops into your head without editing.
When you've finished, look at your list and notice how it reveals your beliefs about this category and why you may be struggling with this area of your life.
REPLACE YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS WITH POSITIVE ONES
Now that you've identified your beliefs and the possible causes of them, its time to challenge those beliefs by looking at the other side of the argument.
The key to reframing beliefs is finding alternatives that prove that belief to be false. By consciously changing our thinking patterns from negative thoughts to more positive ones, we begin to create new neural pathways in the brain.
How many of the beliefs you've written down are true?
Are you justifying these beliefs by looking for proof?
How can you flip them on their head and look for proof of the opposite?
So, if you're struggling to let go of clutter instead of focusing on the reasons why you should keep it. List the benefits of letting it go. How is having all this stuff making your life harder? How is all this stuff taking away your ability to reach your goals? How is all this stuff making you unhappy?
For every limiting belief, find at least one example to disprove it. You can always find evidence to support the limiting belief, but you can also always find evidence to support the opposite.
When you ask yourself (and write down) the opposite of your limiting belief, you can start to see the whole picture and make real logical decisions that aren't influenced by the negative side of your mind.
After doing this exercise, anytime you hear that little voice in your head repeating a limiting belief, think of your positive truth and repeat it to yourself.
This is how you break down your limiting beliefs - one at a time, and we start to break free.
At first, it might help keep your list around to refer to if needed to remind yourself what the truth is.
Whatever belief is holding you back, there are plenty of examples to disprove it.
"You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights" - Brian Tracy.
Affirmations and positive mantras are a great tool for changing the way you think. You can create your own using the positive truths that you write down.
I am.... happy, healthy, confident, abundant
I am capable of...
I value myself.
I can let go of...
I choose to...
I have enough...
I am good at...
Make sure that your affirmations make you feel something. When you're reading them out loud, you should feel yourself being filled with hope. When I read mine, I can feel something inside me shifting, responding to the words I'm saying.
Get into the habit of saying these positive words out loud to yourself every day and watch your world transform.
If you want to go a step further, put your truths, affirmations and the goals you want to make a reality onto a vision board. Put it somewhere you'll see throughout the day and focus on it whenever you can.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
Another way to help shift our mindsets is by surrounding ourselves with people we aspire to be like and whose beliefs we would like to adopt. Often, we surround ourselves with people who have the same beliefs as us because it's comfortable and familiar -in the same way as surrounding ourselves with material things - but that doesn't mean that it's good for us.
Our limiting beliefs get reassured and reaffirmed. Remember that our environment helps to create who we are, and our brain subconsciously mirrors the people and the things that we are in closest relationship to.
When we tell others of our goals, people can be, unintentionally, quick to point out the negatives - that's going to be such a big task, you won't be able to do that on your own, can you afford to do that? Do you really think you can do that? Questions or comments like these can put doubt in our minds and make us question ourselves. Surround yourself with as many positive people as possible who are going to say "That's brilliant! Go for it!". Seeing yourself through there eyes is such a confidence booster.
If you are aware that you have a habit of focusing on the negatives, then start by removing yourself from negative people. Surround yourself with positive people who focus on the good things in life and what they have. Hopefully, you will start to see new a perspective that will enforce your positive truths.
Look out for examples of people who have achieved your goals so that you can believe it is possible for you too.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Change the way you talk to yourself. Be kind. If you start to feel that you are beating yourself up about
something, imagine that a friend or loved one is telling you the story and be as kind to yourself as you would be towards them.
Instead of saying "I'm rubbish at organising", look for things that you are good at, like 'I'm good at keeping my calendar up to date', 'my paperwork is pretty organised and easy to find' or 'I always hang my coat up when I get home'. It doesn't matter how tiny it is; look for ways that you can have a positive thought about yourself and /or your home so you can change that habit or belief that you're bad at it. Because when you feel like you're good at something, you are naturally more motivated to keep doing it and do it more often.
Take it one day at a time. Changing deep-seated beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviours doesn't happen overnight.
In the beginning, it may feel as if you are forcing yourself to believe in something that you don't believe in at all. Keep reminding yourself of the good reasons why the new belief is more believable.
One day it will click, and you'll feel like a brand new person. You may even forget that you used to have that old belief and what it felt like to have a belief that held you back for so long.
Overcoming our biggest hurdles by changing the way we think is a powerful ability that we all have.
You can do it!!