These strategies helped me use my limiting beliefs to achieve exponential growth in my goals
I’ve always struggled with limiting beliefs. And just like many people I used to think that limiting beliefs were thoughts and habits that I had to stay away from. As such, I always sought out methods and techniques that would help me get rid of my limiting beliefs.
Most of what is written about how to get rid of them never worked for me and that which did work only brought up more limiting beliefs for me. So I started questioning why I was having limits instead of trying to get rid of them. This quest led me to change the way I look at limiting beliefs and their role in my life which in turn helped me develop these strategies on how to use your limits for progress in my life and hopefully yours.
Limiting beliefs are more than just false narratives and parasites that take up space in our minds. They are indicators of what I need to address to move forward. I have learned to look at limiting beliefs as closed doors that simply need to be opened through a little more will than the one currently being used at any particular time prior to “getting rid” of the limiting belief.
Most of my limiting beliefs, especially those that I care about, are in areas that I want to progress in like art, writing, engineering, relationships, wealth, and health. I may have other limits in other areas but they don’t keep me up at night as these do.
Generally, limiting beliefs are going to be formed around an experience we’ve had from the time we were kids. The limiting beliefs that take our minds hostage are those in areas that we want to experience some form of progress. This could be in the form of financial success, talking to someone you really admire, being confident on stage, and so on.
As such, limiting beliefs in your own life too may be used as great indicators of issues you need to address in the areas of your interest so that you can move forward.
In my life, I have found limiting beliefs important for two reasons.
- They are fuel for my curiosity
- They are my guide to achieving exponential progress.
Let’s examine each of these two important reasons in a little more detail and see how limiting beliefs play an important role in each reason.
Many times, I have come to a point where I feel I cannot progress any further. When that happens, I tend to get bored and in the past, I used to just abandon those things at the stage when I get bored of doing them.
This was because whenever I hit a plateau in my progress in any area of my life that I care about, I only have three options.
- Give up and find something else interesting
- Sit and wait for inspiration to strike
- Force my hand by pushing my limits (sometimes limiting beliefs)
The first option always resulted in me doing a lot of things and leaving most of them incomplete. I always started things and would quit whenever I would plateau and boredom set in.
The second option resulted in me having very slow progress which was spread far apart. A task that would have taken me three months could end up taking a full year. The reason is that I always waited for inspiration to strike and sometimes it never showed up for months. A perfect example of this is my journey to learning 3D. It took me three years to master modeling basic 3D objects because I always waited for inspiration to strike in areas that were “within my skillset.”
The third option was very helpful in getting me curious enough to find a path past my limits and insecurities.
The best thing that always came with me pushing against my limits and going on to the next level was the exponential progress that resulted. This is the reason I was able to learn visual art from beginner to skilled in less than two years.
The limiting beliefs I had in my art for example provided me a chance to examine what I actually needed to address to move forward as opposed to doing what felt comfortable.
Whenever I feel like I am not progressing in any area of my life, I look for where my limits are and then push past them through the spark of curiosity.
For example, I used to think that I could never bend forms using a pencil in visual art. This was a limiting belief that held me captive for years, drawing only stick figures until I was 24 and wanted to make a gift for a friend in the form of a portrait painting.
The decision for me to paint a portrait for my friend made it hard for me to stick to the limiting belief I had about art and therefore forced me to be curious enough to find ways to make it work or else risk embarrassing myself in front of her.
When I painted the portrait and managed to bend a few forms, it immediately shattered my limiting belief and at the same time gave me an exponential boost from drawing stick figures to bending form with vectors and paint. Today I can bend forms with charcoal without any problem. Below is an example…
You should try to use your limits to advance your interests instead of focusing on the limits you have. Limiting beliefs can never be fully conquered by anyone. We all have our limits in some way or another. Once you get rid of one, another one, and probably a much harder one, will arise and the process continues.
My limiting beliefs as an intermediate visual artist, for example, are not the same as those of beginners nor those of a Disney art director. But each of us has our limiting beliefs and challenges at our respective levels.
Instead of shattering your limiting beliefs, try to use them as indicators of where you are in your journey and use them as indicators of what you need to address so that you can move forward. Once you do that, the limiting belief automatically falls away and another more challenging one arises. You repeat the process until you have mastery that the world looks at in awe.
Consciously note down any limiting thought
Limiting beliefs can often be very hard to identify since they play out as some form of learned helplessness. To make matters worse, our brains often disregard information that has not been useful in the past so it can function efficiently. As a result, actions and behaviors that are surrounded by limiting beliefs will often go unnoticed.
Therefore, you must strictly observe your thoughts surrounding any area of your life in which you desire improved conditions and note those thoughts down in your notebook as they come.
To effectively do this, I used to open up my drawing canvas while having my “limits notebook” by my side. Most limits always showed up as soon as I started applying charcoal or any stain on the canvas. Here are a few of them…
You can do this each time you are doing something that brings up those limits. If you aren’t necessarily doing anything but have limiting beliefs in things like relationships, for example, then just write down in a book or in your favorite notes app on your phone each time and any time they arise. Take time to come up with a genuine limiting belief you have and once you have at least one, then move on to the next step.
Examine why you may be having that belief and reach for help if possible
Some limiting beliefs are simple while others may need external guidance in order for you to push through to the next level. Some limiting beliefs will have clear answers for why they exist.
Others may need external help from friends all the way to therapy and coaches but you must be sincere with yourself and try to work it out first. If you want to find love, and your limiting belief is that nobody can like you, then you have to first work on your self-image and the way you treat others.
And the best way I learned how to treat others better and also get rid of my limiting beliefs surrounding my self-image was through reading a book called “How to win friends and influence people”. Reading and practicing what this book suggests can help you not only improve the relationship you have with other people but also the relationship you have with yourself.
Use self-reflection, books, coaches, therapy, friends, or a combination of any of those to help you examine what created the belief that is limiting you. Once you have done this, then you can move onto the next step where you begin using those limits as points on where you need to focus your attention.
Convert the limiting thoughts into challenges
Doing challenges is a great way to hack your focus in committing to something uncomfortable for a long time. Challenges give you something to shoot for and you learn a lot in the process.
Your limiting thoughts may simply stay written on paper if you don’t take time to work on them. But chances are you will not have the motivation to get them done consistently without some form of structure. This is why challenges are important because they will keep you focused on hitting your daily goals.
How do you set up an effective challenge?
When setting up a challenge to address your limiting belief, make sure you minimize the chances of your challenge feeling like work as much as possible. This can mean introducing fun to your challenge or taking it on with another person.
For the first week, try to reach for something simple. In my drawing hands challenge, I knew that my challenge was to draw a pair of hands once a day for 90 days. But I tried to make sure that the first week was focusing on proportions and not the anatomy of hands.
This made it easy for me to understand the structure of hands which gave me the enthusiasm to push through to the next stages and making them slightly complex until the challenge was done and I had mastered my skills in drawing hands, thereby letting go of my limiting belief around drawing them.
After the challenge
I have always noticed that if I can successfully go through these steps and complete the challenge, little to none of the limiting belief is left. Sometimes I have to go through the steps a few more times while each time addressing and taking on a new challenge. In time, it dissolves the limiting belief I have.
But this does not stop you from having more limiting beliefs crop up. The only difference is that the limiting beliefs that show up will be the ones that are on a higher level of progress than the previous ones.
For example in my drawing hands challenge, after I learned how to draw hands, the next limiting belief was around foreshortening hands. But this was more complicated than the previous one and so I took it as a challenge and indicator of what I needed to work on next. This is how I have been able to use limiting beliefs to my advantage.