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Your limiting beliefs are holding you back: here’s how to push past them

It all started with some hot sauce…

I went out for dinner with a friend last night, this cool little bar that specialises in hot sauces. So like, they bring out about seven hot sauces, all ranging from mild to please-for-the-love-of-god-don’t-do-sexy-things-with-your-boy-after-eating-this-cause-you-will-set-their-peenie-on-fire kind of hot. Anyway, I instantly had the thought: I will only try the first four hot sauces. The mild to medium ones.

It was just an instant reaction: if the options are from one to seven, I will only go up to four. That is my threshold. That is where I’m at. And then I had this weird observer moment where this other voice said ‘says who?’

chica picante salty apparel

How we limit ourselves without even knowing it

I think I do that a lot.
I think I see people doing ballsy stuff and decide my comfort zone is a few notches down on that scale. If I see people attacking life at a ten, I will decide I am comfortable operating at a seven. If I paddle out on a day the waves are kinda scaring me, I will decide the non-set waves, the smaller ones, are the ones that are ‘for me.’
Apparently i’m not alone. According to psychologist Dr Matthew B. James, we are not born with limiting beliefs about ourselves, but come to believe and embody our own limitations, sometimes consciously and sometimes not.

“These limiting decisions run our lives and they prevent us from becoming who we wish to become, doing what we wish to do and having what we wish to have,” James says, in an excellent article for Psychology Today.

Photo: Faith Dickey

“The truth” versus “a belief”

“In the past couple of decades, numerous studies has shown that what we perceive, how we feel emotionally in any situation, and how we perform is completely tied to what we believe.”

“The sad part is that when someone has a limiting belief, they don’t even test that limit,” James says.

“A man who thinks he’s not handsome enough to attract a mate may never even ask for a date. A woman who believes she’s too old to start a new career will simply not try.”

Look at your life. Where have you subconsciously limited yourself and come to believe in it as truth? The good news is, when we become conscious of our own limiting beliefs, we can start to nudge the boundaries of what is possible, and what we are capable of. Here are a few ways to do that:

Photo: Angela Nikolau. Photo for inspiration and emphasis guys. Unfortunately laws of physics still apply and as yet are unable to fly off skyscrapers unaided.

1. play a game of let’s just say…

One good way I like to push past limiting beliefs is playing a game of ‘let’s just say…’
This involves really looking at the beliefs you have about what you are and are not capable of and saying, ‘ok, I acknowledge and honour why you may have these limitations and beliefs, but let’s just say I *insert action you currently believe you are incapable of doing*’ What then? Would would that mean for me, and who I believe I currently am?

For example:

Let’s just say… I did take the biggest wave of the set just to see what happens?

Let’s just say… I did walk up to that person I desperately want to connect with, look them in the eye, and extend my hand? Or did I just hang back and hope for them to approach me like I normally do?

Let’s just say… I did say yes to an invitation to do something completely different and not with my usual people and completely out of my comfort zone?

Let’s just say… I did get up and dance

Let’s just say… I did raise my freelance prices?

Let’s just say…  there was a way to work off my computer, anywhere in the world?

Let’s just say… I did crack open the hottest chilli sauce and commit it like a spartan?

Now go out there and do one of these things.

2. Pretend to be brave

I don’t believe you have to ‘be’ brave as in it is this inherent, rock solid trait that you possess. I think women think they have to ‘be’ a brave person to do brave things. So because they never feel they are ‘like those other brave women’ they don’t do it. I don’t think I’m particularly brave. But I think I’m good at pretending to be brave for certain crucial moments in time.

Like when I jumped on that Skype call with that magazine editor after confidently expressing all the reasons why she should take me on as a writer. (And got off the call with my heart racing like sweet-holy-God-did-I-just-do-that.)
Or that time I pressed the ‘confirm cancellation’ button on my return flight ticket home
back to Australia, with no idea what my next move was.
And of course when I told that person first “I want you and I can’t stop thinking about you.”
And all those times I spoke up in social situations and said: ‘what you just said made me uncomfortable.’

“When you pretend to be brave your lady balls grow a little, and the bigger they are the braver you feel you are.”

When you pretend to be brave your lady balls grow a little. And the bigger they are the braver you feel you are. So it comes to be that pretending to be braver and actually being brave is kind of the same thing. Either way you’ve nudged the boundaries of what you believe you are capable of. It becomes a cycle, so much you can’t even remember- which came first? The bravery or the ball? (I’ll stop. You get it.)

3. Get around women who push their limits

Look around at the people you spend the most time with. What are they doing? Do they have goals? What are they doing to reach those goals? How do they show up in the world? Do they take up space? Do they do what they say they’re going to do?

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So if we’re spending most of our time with women who often doubt themselves, put off reaching for their goals until next year, don’t put time into intense self-reflection – as a result that will justify us giving into OUR OWN fears, it’s going to justify our own inaction, it’s going to justify why we aren’t kind of pushing our own limits.

“Look around at the women you spend the most time with. What are they doing? Do they have goals? What are they doing to reach those goals? How do they show up in the world? Do they take up space?”

Sitting there at dinner with my friend the other night, the hot sauces spread out in front of us, I decided it was time to challenge some long-held beliefs about myself. I am proud to say I ate the damn level-7 hot sauce (which promptly burnt a whole in my tongue.)

But it turns out that wasn’t the end, because then, then the waiter brought out the eighth and final sauce in a small bottle. He presented it in the palm of his hand as though initiating us into an exclusive club. We took the small bottle, emblazoned with a skull, the title ‘exorcista’ (exorcist in Spanish), and a small message explaining the key ingredient: the infinite chilli pepper, voted hottest in the world by Guinness book of records in 2011.

And you know what we did? We tried that shit as well.

Am I only now just getting the feeling back in my tongue? Yes. But did I push past a boundary of mine? Yes.

So my question for you is, what limiting belief about yourself are you going to challenge this week?

Feature Image: Lucia Griggi

About the Author:

Caitlin is a journalist and writer from Australia. She’s into collecting and sharing the stories of other human people. Mostly women’s stories. You can find her at @caitlincreeper

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