A More Complex Explanation of Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs form easily as a by-product of the negativity bias
They are beliefs that hold us back from having what we really want.
Here are some examples of common limiting beliefs:
- I'm not 'good enough'
- I never win
- People always betray me
- I'm 'unlovable'
- I can't trust myself/others
- I don't deserve it
- Any fear of __________
- Doing __________ is too hard, so I'm not going to try
Limiting beliefs stem from the Unconscious Mind Operating System (UMOS) assigning meaning to a physically or emotionally painful event.
Example: Getting dumped by a significant other
This can be emotionally devastating, especially when you're in love. The UMOS wants to minimize pain, so it may assign the meaning, 'love isn't worth it.' If someone has been dumped many times, their UMOS may decide, 'I'll never be loved.' But as I mentioned, this can happen after a physical trauma as well. If someone is in a major car accident, they may assign the meaning 'cars are too dangerous to ride in'.
Generally, when a limiting belief first forms, it is not very strong. However, each time the UMOS experiences a similar pain, it will reinforce and strengthen the limiting belief. The more the limiting belief is reinforced, the more the UMOS starts looking to actively protect itself from the threat of pain.
(Back to the breakup example)
The first time you get your heart broken, the meaning 'love isn't worth it' may make someone feel a little hesitant to open up again, but with time, people normally do. The desire to experience love becomes stronger than the fear of heartbreak. If someone's heart is broken over and over again, the fear of it happening again may overpower the desire of having what they want - love.
Limiting beliefs can be 'triggered' or 'activated' after laying dormant. Based on our love example, perhaps after having their heart broken multiple times, (our hypothetical character, let’s call him Ted), decides to give love another shot.
Things are going great, Ted and his new boyfriend are beginning to fall in love. Then, the new boyfriend speaks three powerful words, 'I love you.' While part of Ted is very happy to hear this, it also causes him to remember all the pain caused by those who said it before. Fear floods Ted's mind and he decides to end things.
Limiting beliefs can get triggered, or activated, and cause intense, irrational emotional reactions. Have you ever had someone get really angry with you for no apparent reason? You probably triggered one of their limiting beliefs.
In today's world, limiting beliefs only hold us back from being happy and successful. Limiting beliefs cause us to reduce the options we have in life. If someone believes they 'will always fail', they will probably never pursue a genius business idea.
My fear of abandonment led me to end relationships because I was afraid they would abandon me. Crazy, right? Limiting beliefs convince you to do crazy things in order to prevent possible suffering. They have a way of making exactly what you are afraid of, happen.