When I work with people, one of our main goals is to find limiting beliefs in them. Limiting beliefs are beliefs that others either hold about themselves or the world around them. Those are the beliefs that prevent people from successfully moving towards their dreams. Simply put, limiting beliefs hold people back.
But to be completely honest with you, getting rid of a limiting belief is not hard at all. All you have to do is realize that you have one, become aware of it, and voila! That pretty much on its own solves the whole issue. But like I said, that isn’t hard; identifying the belief is.
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
The reason why many of us are so not aware of our limiting beliefs is because we have always lived with them. They formed when we were still very young, and have been with us ever since. If anything, it feels natural to have them be a part of us.
It’s known that when we are children, our brains are like sponges. They suck up everything around us. Your environment and the ways in which others communicate with you play a big role. At that age, both the negative and the positive can have an impact that will affect us for the rest of our life, unless we consciously decide to do something about it.
Some people prefer to think that they don’t have limiting beliefs, but that’s not true. If you were ever a child, it is inevitable that you will grow to have at least some limiting beliefs. They are simply a part of the learning process.
There are two main reasons why limiting beliefs emerge, one of them being your life experiences.
For example, maybe multiplication did not come easily to you when you were a child. As a result, that might lead you to the belief that you are bad in math, or even worse, that you are stupid.
Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to judge your math skills just by how fast you can multiply numbers in your head as a child. In these cases, all that is needed is a different approach to learning, because all children are different. But the typical educational system cannot always provide an alternative for those that need it, and unfortunately, some people are left behind. As a result, these people can form some very serious limiting beliefs about themselves that end up hurting them for the rest of their lives.
It’s common to talk about how our past negative experiences can hold us back from progress in life, but it is less common to talk about how conventional wisdom can do just as much.
For example, maybe you grew up in a family where it was conventional wisdom to believe that all rich people are greedy. Throughout your childhood, you kept hearing this. As a consequence, you may have grown up to believe that all rich people are, in fact, greedy. To make it worse, you once saw how a rich person did not give money to a homeless man when asked. At that moment you became convinced that all rich people are greedy and heartless!
As children, we lack critical thinking, and much of what is said to us we perceive as the truth. The reason why any type of conventional wisdom, even the most absurd one, can turn into a limiting belief is because we failed to question its accuracy. And if we grow up with this belief never reconsidered, we can have very serious problems when we come across a situation to which this belief is attached. In the case of the belief that all rich people are greedy, we may find it difficult to earn a lot of money, even if we want to.
See limiting beliefs as programs that are hardwired into our brains, the root cause of which can be a conventional wisdom that you chose to believe. For this very reason, it is extremely important to question those statements that you grew believing.
What to be done about conventional wisdom?
There is a countless amount of things that people can consider as conventional wisdom. You may have been told that only through hard work you can earn money, that no real money can be made on the internet, that you cannot build muscles on a vegetarian diet, that you need to go to get a certain degree in order to become successful, that aging means getting sick, etc. Want it or not, if these things were repeated to you throughout childhood and you believed them, there is a good chance that they will become your limiting beliefs, holding you from progress and success in life.
The only way you can separate from existing limiting beliefs is by identifying them, becoming aware of them and realizing that they are not the truth.
Next time, when you feel that you have come across a thought that is holding you back from taking action, stop for a second to ask yourself: Why am I feeling this way? Have I always felt this way? Is this really the case? Can there be a different outcome that I don’t expect?
By asking these questions, you become critical of yourself and have more chances of making a rational decision that can take you to where you want to get, as opposed to just following the conventional wisdom, doing what you have always done and staying there where you have always been.
Most of it is outdated
Conventional wisdom is called conventional for a reason. It may have been true and have had value in the past, but you must not forget that we are living in a different world today. With the arrival of technology, things change faster than we get to learn about them. You cannot simply live the way your grandparents or even parents lived.
Sure, there are things that we can and should learn from history in order not to repeat the same mistakes again, but that’s a bit of a different story. We don’t see history and the experiences of our parents as the truth that we must follow; we simply learn from them. On the other hand, conventional wisdom often presupposes that you blindly believe it.
If you want to become more than everyone else, then you must learn to let go of all assumptions and expectations. Everything you do should be considered as a way to grow and to achieve more in life. And everything that doesn’t work out for you should be considered as a valuable lesson learned along the way. As Thomas Edison once said about his unsuccessful attempts to create the lightbulb:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
The best way to achieve more in life is by being different. Of course, you can do what everyone else is doing, but learn to be different by being better at it than everyone else. Try to have your own approach. Don’t listen to those that will under the name of conventional wisdom try to discourage you or to hold you back. In the end, it is up to you to make the best of what you have.
Using conventional wisdom as an excuse to not take action is just another excuse to not take action.
Thank you for stopping by and good luck!