Two Thoughtful Ways to Discover Your Self-Limiting Beliefs and What To Do Next

“Your assumption guides all of your conscious and subconscious movements so inevitably that it actually dictates events.” Neville Goddard

Earlier this week, a recent college graduate asked me this question: 

How can I discover what my self-limiting beliefs are? I know I have them, but how do I identify them?

I love that question, and I gave him an answer he thought was helpful, so I thought I would share it with you as well.

I think there are two ways to extricate these waste rocks of thought from the gold we’re really mining for:

First, notice when you say something like, “I’d really like to do x, or go to y, but I can’t.” You’ll hit the mother lode with this one. For example, I sometimes say, “I’d love to have so-and-so on the Disrupt Yourself podcast.” I said this about Pixar’s co-founder Ed Catmull a few years ago. “I’d really like to have him on the podcast, but I can’t.” My friends and family called me on it immediately: “Why can’t you? Did you ask him, and he said no?” Well, if you put it that way…no. So, I asked him, and he said yes. I recently invited him back a second time, and he said yes, again! My defeatism was premature, and that is often the case.

Here’s a more quotidian example: I said to my daughter this afternoon, “On beautiful days like this, I would love to just sit outside all day.” To which she said, “Why don’t you?” Here come the self-limiting excuses: I can’t see my computer as well. My screen is smaller. I can read outside but not do computer work. Yada yada. The truth is, I chose to believe that I couldn’t, so I didn’t.

The second way to find those self-limiting beliefs is to ask family and friends if there is something that you say frequently. For example, my daughter (yes, one of my truth tellers) tells me that I say “I have to” –– a lot. Not just “I have to take out the garbage,” but “I have to travel for work,” or “I have to go on vacation.” Yes, those particular words have been strung together. Why is that so important? Because “I have to” implies a victim mentality. The world is acting on me, rather than me being the actor. Instead, I should say, “I get to” or “I choose to.” Those are the phrases I want to use all the time, and the words that will blow the lid off my self-limiting beliefs about what is possible.

Once we are aware of our self-limiting beliefs, we can start to do something about them.

Here’s the punchline on how: Our subconscious doesn’t know the difference between a truth and a lie, so what do we want to be true? Speaking aloud about what we want the truth to be can empower our thinking. Say it out loud, in order to make it so. Stanford psychology professor Gregory M. Walton has explained that using nouns is more powerful than using verbs. Say “I am a runner” instead of “I run” or “I am a leader” instead of “I lead.” “I am a podcaster whose guests include Ed Catmull.”

For more on defeating self-limiting beliefs, listen to podcast episodes: Bob Proctor, Marcus Whitney, Shade Zahari, Tara Swart, Brooke Snow, and/or Episode 196, Disrupt Yourself Today.

This week, our new podcast interview is with Jaime Leverton, CEO of Hut 8, a crypto mining operation. It was interesting to hear how a background in everything from loving technology as a child to IBM to Blackberry allowed her to take the helm at this company. And, to also learn more about the promise of cryptocurrency, including helping two billion unbanked people get access to a stable bank account.

While there is a lot to learn from this episode, one thing I appreciate is that when you are in an industry that is moving quickly, you don’t need to change jobs, or roles to jump to a new S Curve; you can stay in place and still enjoy a wild, wonderful ride.

As always, thanks for being here ––

My best,

P.S. Are you looking to accelerate your growth and invest in others? The Smart Growth Certification program gives you the tools to start meaningful conversations about growth with your direct reports, teams, coaching clients, and anyone else in your life. Additionally, Certified Smart Growth Advisors have exclusive access to the S Curve Insight Tool – a diagnostic that provides powerful insights into an individual’s experience of growth. Visit our website to register for an upcoming webinar and learn more about how the Smart Growth Certification can help you and your business grow! 

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