Limiting Beliefs and their Impact

Limiting beliefs usually center round, ‘I can’t …’ If it is true, regard this phrase as simply a statement of fact that is valid for the present moment only. For example to say, ‘I can’t juggle’ means I can (not juggle). It is very easy not to juggle. Anyone can do it.

Attacking Your Limits

Believing that ‘I can’t’ is a description of your capability now not what is possible in the future. It will program your brain to fail, and this will prevent you from finding out your true capability. Negative beliefs have no basis in actual experience.

A good metaphor for the effect of limiting beliefs is the way a frog’s eye works. A frog will see most things in its immediate environment, but it only interprets things that move and have a particular shape and configuration as food. This is a very efficient way of providing the frog with food such as flies. However, because only moving black objects are recognized as food, a frog will starve to death in a box of dead flies. So perceptual filters, that are too narrow and too efficient, can starve us of good experiences, even when we are surrounded by exciting possibilities, because they are not recognized as such.

The best way to find out what you are capable of is to pretend you can do it. Act ‘as if you can. What you can’t do, you won’t. If it really is impossible, don’t worry, you’ll find that out. (And be sure to set up appropriate safety measures if necessary.) As long as you believe it is impossible, you will actually never find out if it is possible or not.

We are not born with beliefs as we are with eye color. They change and develop. We think of ourselves differently, we marry, divorce, change friendships, and act differently because our beliefs change. Beliefs can be a matter of choice. You can drop beliefs that limit you and build beliefs that will make your life more fun and more successful. Positive beliefs allow you to find out what could be true and how capable you are. They are permissions to explore and play in the world of possibility. What beliefs are worth having that will enable and support you in your goals? Think of some of the beliefs you have about yourself. Are they useful Are they permissions or barriers) We all have core beliefs about love, and what is important in life. We have many others about our possibilities and happiness that we have created, and can change. An essential part of being successful is having beliefs that allow you to be successful. Empowering beliefs will not guarantee success every time, but they keep you in a resourceful state and capable of succeeding in the end. You can learn more about building empowering beliefs in my book “Mastering Secrets of Personal Success: Tools to Create the Life You Want

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There have been a few studies at Stanford University on ‘Self-Efficacy Expectation’, or how our behavior changes to match a new belief. The study was about how well people think they do something, compared to how well they actually do it A variety of tasks were used, from mathematics to snake handling. At first, beliefs and performance matched, people performed as they thought they would. Then the researchers set about building the subjects’ belief in themselves by setting goals, arranging demonstrations, and giving them expert coaching, Expectations rose, but performance typically dropped because they were trying out new techniques. There was a point of maximum difference between what they believed they could do, and what they were actually achieving. If the subjects stuck to the task, their performance would rise to meet their expectations. If they became discouraged, it dropped to its initial level. Think for a moment of three beliefs that have limited you. Go ahead and write them down. Now, in your mind, look into a huge, ugly mirror. Imagine how your life will be in five years if you continue to act as if these limiting beliefs were true. How will your life be in ten years? In twenty?

Now, take a moment to clear your mind. Stand up, walk around or take a few deep breaths. Now think of three new beliefs that would empower you, that would truly enhance the quality of your life. You can stop for a few seconds to write these down now. Get these images of the words stating these beliefs clearly in your mind. Make a large sign with these belief statements on it. In your mind, look into a big, friendly mirror. Imagine yourself acting as if these new beliefs were really true. How will your life be in five years now? In ten years? In twenty?

Changing our beliefs allows our behavior to change, and it changes quickest if you are given a capability or strategy to accomplish the task. You can also change a person’s belief through changing their behavior, but this is not as reliable as being given a capability or strategy along with the belief change. Some people are never convinced by repeated experiences. They see only disconnected coincidences. Beliefs are an important part of our personality, yet they are expressed in extraordinarily simple terms: if I do this … then that will happen. “I can”…and “I can’t”… And these are translated into: “I must” … “I should”. . “I must not” … The words become compelling.

How do these words gain their power over us? Language is an essential part of the process we use to understand the world and express our beliefs. Remember, there is a saying that states “If you think you can, you’re right, If you think you can’t, you’re right.” It depends on what you think! The lesson is, think about what you think about. It can make the difference in what you believe you can do. Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits!

Dr. Ed Hubbard is the President & CEO of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc., and recognized as Personal Success Coach and Mentor as well as the Founder of the Diversity Measurement and Diversity ROI Analytics fields. Dr. Hubbard is an expert in Organizational Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Applied Performance Improvement and Measurement Strategies, Strategic Planning, Diversity Measurement, and Organizational and Individual Change Methodologies. He holds a Practitioner Certification and Master Practitioner Certification in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), a Neuro-science discipline. Dr. Hubbard earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. with Honors in Business Administration.

Dr Hubbard can be reached at