How to Get Rid of Negative and Limiting Beliefs

   reading time: 8 min

Today's blogpost is sort of a follow-up to my recent post on How To Marie Kondo Your Life (and not just your stuff), 'cause it seems like I'm doing a different kind of spring cleaning this year.

On today's agenda: decluttering limiting belief systems!

Have you ever felt stuck in a certain area in your life, or even several areas? Perhaps you were unhappy at your workplace, quit, got a new job, and felt equally miserable there?
Or perhaps you feel like all your relationships end in the same way, like you're going in circles?

Then it's time to get rid of the underlying negative beliefs and thought patterns.

1) Take Inventory

Take a pen and a piece of paper.

Write down any negative beliefs and thoughts that come to mind.
These can be common phrases ("money can't buy happiness", "business before pleasure" etc.) or recurring fears
or thoughts that you keep thinking ("I don't have enough money", "I am ugly", "you can't trust other people" etc.).

If none come to mind, look at your life. Look at your circumstances. In which areas of your life are you struggling? Where are things not going well?

(Areas of your life could be health, family, friends, love, work, money, personal growth, environment etc.)

Look at one of the areas you feel stuck in. Take some time and ask yourself: What negative thoughts or beliefs could be related to that area in my life? What kind of thoughts could be creating these conditions?
For example, if money is always tight, no matter what you do and how hard you work, this is a sure sign that you have negative or limiting beliefs about money and self-worth. Write them down! If you feel lonely and left out by everyone in your life, chances are you have negative or limiting beliefs about friendships and, again, self-worth.

Spoiler alert: You may find that most, if not all, of our limiting beliefs have to do with self-worth, or not feeling "good enough".

2) Trace It Back

In order to remove our limiting beliefs, it is important to know where they come from. When we are born, we are tiny babies filled with love and acceptance. We love our bodies, and we don't feel any shame or guilt for anything. So what happened between then and now?

Where did we get those ideas, those feelings of being unlovable and unworthy and not good enough?

Think back to your childhood. Did your parents, other relatives, friends, neighbours, teachers, or other authority figures ever say anything negative about you or life in general that has stuck with you to this day? For instance, our landlady lived next door to us, and she didn't really like kids and the noise and mess they make, so whenever I would play on the lawn around the house, I would get scolded by her. This made me believe that I wasn't welcome, that I was too loud and that playing and having fun is something forbidden or bad. Yikes.

I am sure you also have inner stories like that – that you still consciously or subconsciously tell yourself to this day!

Look at your list of negative beliefs. How do you feel when reading them? For example, if one of your listed beliefs is "I don't have any true friends", this might make you feel lonely, rejected, or incapable. In other words: not good enough. When have you felt like this in the past? Can you see a pattern?

Then ask yourself: What is the first memory in my life where I felt exactly like this? Did someone say something to me or about me?

In novel writing, we talk about the main character's misbelief or false belief that was usually formed prior to the beginning of the story, and is sometimes revealed in their backstory. In order to succeed on their journey, the character has to understand and overcome their misbelief at the end of the book.

This is your backstory. This is your misbelief.
(or rather, several misbeliefs!)

Where possible, write down next to every single listed belief where it came from. Who told you,
explicitly or implicitly, that this was "true"?

3) Challenge Your Beliefs

In order to invalidate your current negative beliefs, read your list of negative beliefs out loud. Then challenge each of the beliefs by asking the following questions:
1) Is this really true? 
2) Is it always like this? Is it like this for everyone? Can you think of any contrary evidence?
3) What would your life be like without this belief?

I'll give you an example. If you, like me, were raised in a society that believes in "working hard" to earn a living, you might be convinced that work must be exhausting, unfulfilling, unpleasant and tough. Otherwise it wouldn't be called "work", right? ... Let's verify.

1) Is this really true? Does work always have to be hard and unpleasant? – So far, my work experiences have been unpleasant and stressful. But I can't say for sure if it has to be that way.
2) Is it always like this? Is it like this for everyone? Can you think of any contrary evidence? – Well, I know that my dad loves what he does for a living, even to the extent that he does it in his free time as well. And I know that Brandon Sanderson loves writing so much so that he even wrote 4 extra novels in secret. Other people like Rachel Maksy, Merphy Napier, Dylan Is In Trouble etc. have also repeatedly said that they love what they do for a living. So I guess, there are people who enjoy and even love their work, AND they earn good money with it.
3) What would your life be like without this belief? – Without this belief, I would be more hopeful, confident and even determined to find an occupation that will bring me joy and money!

Perhaps you can even go so far as to "debunk" your negative belief. For example, you might come to the realization that your
enjoyment of your work would actually make your work more valuable, therefore making it more likely to get paid for it. See? You can allow your work to be easy, effortless and fun for you!

4) Transform Your Beliefs

Negative or limiting beliefs are not helpful. If you keep telling yourself "I never have enough money", this will not get you more money. Instead, it will probably make your more depressed and anxious about this lack of money you are constantly reiterating. If you change it to a positive thought like "I am open and receptive to new opportunities of income
", it might actually motivate and uplift you. You can only think one thought at a time. Why not make it a beneficial one?

So take your list of negative beliefs about yourself and your life, and rephrase them into something more helpful. Here are a few examples:
Negative, obstructive belief: I don't have what is takes to be successful.
Positive, constructive belief: I have everything I need to accomplish what I want to accomplish.


Negative, obstructive belief: I don't have enough time to do the things I love.
Positive, constructive belief: I can manage my time in a way that allows me to focus on the things that are important to me.

Negative, obstructive belief: I hate my boss.
Positive, constructive belief: I treat my boss with kindness and compassion, and we have a peaceful relationship.
It is crucial to this step that the new positive, constructive belief is believable to you. For example, you can't just jump from "I'm chronically ill" to "I am completely healthy". You won't believe yourself because it isn't currently true. Instead, say something like "I am becoming healthier and stronger every day".

If changing a negative belief into a positive one seems "impossible", rephrase it into a question instead. So instead of feeding your mind with thoughts like "I'm chronically ill", feed it with a request: "What can I do to become healthier and stronger?"

Repeat your new positive thoughts like daily affirmations, ideally every morning and every night. In other words: Practice positive brainwashing 😜

5) Watch Your Words

The same way you can transform your way of thinking, you can transform your speech.
Don't say anything that you don't want to come true. You wouldn't put up a poster promoting something that went against your own values either, would you?

The next time you catch yourself making limiting statements like "I can't do that", "I can't believe I was so stupid!", "nobody loves me" etc.
take note of it and lovingly rephrase it into a more helpful message, such as "I am doing the best I can" or "Next time I will be more mindful" or "I love and accept myself, and I let that love radiate out into the world".

Again, make sure that you believe what you are saying.

»Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.«

― Lao Tzu 

6) Burn It, Baby!

Some negative beliefs are easier to release than others. If you find yourself having a very stubborn negative belief, try this method: Write the negative belief on a small piece of paper. Allow any feelings that are still connected to this belief to rise to the surface. If you like, you can say something like: "Thank you for your service, but I don't need you any more!"

Then burn the piece of paper in a fireproof container. Imagine the negative belief to dissolve.

7) Be Patient

Don't limit yourself again by setting yourself a time limit for "success". Trust the process. Trust that you have already begun changing and dissolving your negative beliefs and thought patterns. Don't give up on yourself when change isn't coming as quickly as you want it to come. Just as a physical injury will take time to heal, so does your thinking. It won't help if you keep poking at it to see if it's healing.

Also, there is no need to feel bad for every negative thought you catch yourself thinking. Chances are, you have been thinking these thoughts for most of your life already. Just pause. Say to yourself: "This is an old thought. I no longer choose to think that way." And let it go. Find a positive, or constructive thought (or sentence) to think (or say) instead.

And that's how you eventually overcome your limiting beliefs, one tiny step at a time.

You can do it. I trust in your abilities. Do you trust yourself? If not, what limiting belief lies beneath this thought ...? 🤗