Limiting Beliefs: How to Identify and Change Them

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you hate? Have you ever felt that you will be in debt until the day you die? Have you ever felt that no one will want what you have to offer in your business? All of these are natural feelings to have at one time or another, but the other thing they have in common is that they are limiting beliefs. But, what does that mean and what can you do about it? Let’s explore.

WHAT ARE LIMITING BELIEFS?

Limiting beliefs are simply beliefs that you hold to be true regardless of their basis in reality. For example, in your job you may feel that you will never be good enough at your job to be promoted or valued in the way that you desire. However, by feeling that way you are actually limiting your potential since you may no longer strive for that promotion you have convinced yourself you will never qualify for.

I see similar issues with debt, especially student loans. You may feel like you have so much debt that there’s no point of making extra payments towards the debt since you will be paying it for decades anyway. This, however is just not true. Mathematically speaking, putting even a small amount of money above the minimum payments towards your debt can cut years off of your loan repayment time frame.

HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY THEM?

The unfortunate issue with limiting beliefs is that they are often so ingrained in our inner monologue, that we struggle to separate them from fact. As a result, one of the best ways to question if you have limiting beliefs is to catch each time you tell yourself you can’t do something. When you hear that little word “can’t” creeping up into the back of your head ask yourself if that is really true, or if that’s something your convinced yourself of without actually considering all the options. If you think you have a limiting belief that is holding you back, it might be time to bust it!

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THEM?

Once you’ve identified the limiting beliefs you hold, write each one down. Next to that write down how that belief is holding you back and what the possible outcomes might be if you could let go of that limiting belief. Then write down any steps that you could take to chip away at that notion and redefine what is possible. Some may be easy to bust (i.e. thinking you hate beets without ever trying them), but others may be more difficult such as valuing your performance at work. The latter may include conversations with your boss and peers to solicit feedback on what you could improve. It might require you to voice your goals and desires so that other people are aware of them. That alone can feel terrifying, but how will your boss know you want to be promoted to that new position opening up if you don’t tell her?

WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT TO YOUR FINANCES?

Limiting beliefs can have a direct or indirect link to your finances. In the case of student loan debt, just dismissing it as a part of life and not tackling it head on will make it a factual part of your life. However, by really questioning whether there are things you could be doing better to get out of that debt, you are challenging that limiting belief and redefining what is possible. As a result, you can get yourself out of debt sooner, invest sooner, and save money on interest while enjoying the (maybe literal) dividends.

Even goals that aren’t directly financially linked, such as wanting a promotion at work, can have trickle down economic effects for your wallet. Letting go of the belief that you are not enough can empower you to go for a promotion, ask for a raise, or even pursue a new job more aligned with your values. All of theses things can lead you to higher pay and help you really see that things you once thought were impossible are all squarely within your reach.

What are your limiting beliefs and what will you do to challenge them?


Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook

Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.