What Are Self-Limiting Beliefs [and How They Impact the Quality of Your Life]

by Sarah Bedrick


Two years ago, I was in the middle of one of the seismic shifts of my life.

I realized through the help of my coach that throughout the journey of life, I picked up some good beliefs and some bad ones too.

One of the bad beliefs was around what I was capable of in life. I thought because I didn’t have specific work experience, I couldn't do certain things.

These beliefs were deep down in my subconscious and were preventing me from taking significant action that could lead me to a life of my dreams.

Simply put, beliefs are the things you believe about the world, people, or yourself to be true. And every person on this planet has them.

Some examples of beliefs include:

  • The world is a scary place
  • People are helpful 
  • People don’t get to the C-Suite without an MBA.
  • I am determined
  • I don't have enough time
  • I’m too young (or too old)
  • I am not deserving of a great partner
  • I am an idiot
  • I’m not good enough

Beliefs aren’t facts. They come in all shapes and sizes. And our beliefs are built through our experience of the world and the meaning we make from it.

They’re helpful because they are our brain’s way of making sense of and navigating our complex world. They’re the lens for which we see the world. But they can also harm us. That is, when they’re limiting your potential and what you’re capable of. 

If you want to live a better life, you must first uncover your own limiting beliefs. This is a first step in understanding the box that you've put yourself into.

putting yourself in a box

This is no easy undertaking, but let’s try the straight-forward path first.

Finish this sentence, “People are _____.” 
Now finish this sentence, “I am _____.”

If you could do this, great. What you just uncovered are your beliefs about people and yourself.

More often, however, they’re hidden. They’re directing our lives without us even knowing.

In the book, “Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back” by Gary Bishop, he recounts a story of how his beliefs were an uncurrent unknowingly controlling his life.

A boiled-down version of his story went like this. He ordered a couch and the delivery drivers left it at the end of his driveway. Instead of asking neighbors for help, he painstakingly decided to bring it into his house himself. It was big, heavy, and too certainly too much for any one person to do alone. However, he persisted. He maneuvered it up his driveway and into his house. 

When his wife came home and ask him about it, he told her he had done it himself. The couch was only slightly damaged, and the walls too. When his wife asked him why he didn’t tap on a neighbors door to ask for some help, he told her he thinks people are generally unhelpful.

This story highlights his belief — people are generally unhelpful. 

Is this true? No. Sure, some people might not want to help but is it true for everyone? No.

Where in life did he not ask for help when he needed it? Where in life did he decide to go it alone because people weren't likely to help? What other ways might this belief be subconsciously directing his behavior that he didn’t realize?

What actions do you take on a regular basis that is in direct relation to your self-limiting beliefs on the world, people, or yourself? Since they’re inherently limiting and narrowing your focus, How are these preventing you from living a life that you want, and are truly capable of having? 

Identifying and acknowledging your self-limiting beliefs helps you take back power in your life. Without this, it’s easy to get stuck in a victim mentality which will keep you stuck for years, decades or your entire life. Even more, it will erode your confidence which will shrink your life and limit the people you meet, the risks you take, the experiences you seek, literally everything you do in life.

‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’ — Carl Jung


This is the type of stuff a coach can help you uncover. If you’re unfamiliar with coaching, you can learn more via our resource: Coaching 101: Everything You Need To Know.

If you want to get a taste of coaching without the price tag, I’m hosting a workshop on the coaching world’s most popular exercise, the Wheel of Life (learn more and register here).