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How to Identify (and Release) Your Limiting Beliefs

Are limiting beliefs holding you back from achieving your goals and dreams? We all have them. How do we become aware of, and then overcome, our limiting beliefs? Here are 10 probing and thought-provoking questions to help release your limiting beliefs.

We all have limiting beliefs, those things we tell ourselves (consciously or unconsciously) that hold us back from achieving our dreams and goals. But why do we have them, and can we work past these beliefs?

Moreover, are we – now that we have a half-century or more of experience behind us – are we TOO OLD to change?

The quick answer: We ALL can release limiting beliefs and reach our goals, at ANY STAGE OF OUR LIVES.

Read about Mental self-care for women Over 50

hands releasing monarch butterfly, as a representation of releasing limiting beliefs

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What is a Limiting Belief?

A limiting belief is a state of mind or belief about yourself that restricts you in some way.

These beliefs are often false accusations you make about yourself that can cause negative results, such as preventing you from doing something beneficial for yourself.

Limiting beliefs can also keep you in a negative state of mind, hindering you from encountering new opportunities and life experiences. They hold you back from growing as a person.

Limiting beliefs keep us in our comfort zone.

Consider any time you have thought or said one of the following:

  • “I can’t do that because”
  • “I don’t deserve that because”
  • “If I do this something bad is going to happen”
  • “I can’t do this because people will think”

I’m sure some of those statements sound familiar. They are all based on limiting beliefs.

How are Limiting Beliefs Formed?

Limiting beliefs can form as part of anyone’s natural development from childhood through young adulthood and beyond. They all stem from the same place: your brain’s desire to protect you from pain in the future.

limiting beliefs can Come From Many Places:

  • Personal beliefs based on experience
  • Heredity based on your inherent personal characteristics
  • Social circle of the people you interact with
  • Society-imposed standards
  • Religious-imposed standards

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Release Limiting Beliefs

If you are ready to cast aside your limiting beliefs to achieve your goals, you must first become aware of what those beliefs are. Then you must do the work of understanding why you have that belief, where it came from, and why it is not true for you.

You will release your beliefs by working through each one individually.

Because of the complexity of limiting beliefs, it can be very helpful to write these questions and answers in a notebook or journal.

diagram of who, what, why, where, when, how - questioning your limiting beliefs

1.  What Is The One belief that has held you back the most?

It might be hard to identify all of our limiting beliefs, but we can usually pinpoint at least one belief that has held us back throughout our lives. 

Are you not smart enough, not attractive enough, too awkward, too shy, too fearful? Are you undeserving, afraid disaster will strike, or worried about disappointing someone?

Do you feel that you must remain overly accommodating and low maintenance, and not ask for too much for yourself?

What is it that you truly believe about yourself that has kept you from doing and being what you want in life?

Try to identify that One. Big. Thing.

2.  Why do you believe this?

  • Maybe something happened to you when you were a child.
  • Perhaps something happened to you as an adult.
  • You may have been told this by a parent, teacher, or other major influence.
  • Or possibly no one ever encouraged you to feel differently

You may have more than one answer to this question. It’s human nature to reframe our experiences to support our existing belief system, so one experience will build upon itself over and over to “prove” the accuracy of the belief to you.

3.  Is there any truth in your belief?

There may be some accuracy to a limiting belief – that’s often how they get started in the first place.

Maybe you were on a soccer team as a child and were very uncoordinated in that state of development. You may not have played well at that time or on that team, that’s true.

But to assume because of that one experience that you are forever unathletic and “bad at sports”?

THAT is a limiting belief.

young girl sitting on sidelines of soccer field, feeling left out because she thinks she's not good at the game

4. Can You Think of Any evidence That proves your belief is wrong?

Facts are facts.

Beliefs are NOT facts, they are just things you think are facts. Really, they are just opinions, and are very subjective.

Look for evidence to disprove your belief. This can be from your personal experience or the lives of other people.

5. How are you reinforcing your limiting belief?

One way or another, your actions reinforce your limiting belief. You are acting in ways that support it in order to remain in your comfort zone. Are you focusing on negative emotions? Do you allow the opinions of others influence what you believe? Are you avoiding doing things that would challenge or even disprove the belief?

5.  What have you missed out on in life because of your belief?

If you had never believed this about yourself, how might your life be different now?

Try to imagine your life if the exact opposite of your belief was actually the truth. What would your life look like? Would it be different than it is now?

6. What could happen if you challenged your belief Now?

How would life change if you gave up that belief starting right now? If you just decided that you were _______ enough. And you weren’t going to let that negative belief control your decisions anymore. What would you do? What would change? How would you feel? Do you like what you see?

woman preparing to conquer fear by jump off high dive

7.  What are you So afraid of?

Remember that limiting beliefs are just your brain’s desire to protect you from pain in the future.

Our most common fears involve being rejected, humiliated, embarrassed, or socially isolated. Can you see how your limiting belief has been protecting you from something you fear or that makes you uncomfortable?

What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if you challenge your belief?

Write down the ways you have been supporting your belief, and ways you can change those behaviors.

9.  What would you have to give up if you overcome this belief?

What would you lose if you gave up your belief? How does it keep you safe, and what are the risks of releasing it? Are the risks greater than the reward of seeing yourself in a new light?

10.  What would you gain if you overcome this belief?

How much better would your life be if you simply stopped believing in something that has no weight to it? Think of the freedom you could gain. Think of how much happier you could be. Would you even be able to make the lives of people around you better if you were to overcome this belief?

It may be helpful to make a pros/cons list to best answer these last two questions.

Find books about limiting beliefs

Find workbooks about limiting beliefs

Read More:

Final Thoughts on 10 Probing Questions to Identify and Release Your Limiting Beliefs

Whenever you find yourself thinking “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” or “I don’t deserve it”, realize that these thoughts are limiting beliefs, and not reality.  Use these 10 questions any time you feel you are clinging to beliefs that aren’t moving you forward in life.

Life presents enough real challenges; we shouldn’t hold on to falsehoods we tell ourselves!


hands releasing monarch butterfly, as a representation of releasing limiting beliefs
hands releasing monarch butterfly, as a representation of releasing limiting beliefs
hands releasing monarch butterfly, as a representation of releasing limiting beliefs

2 thoughts on “How to Identify (and Release) Your Limiting Beliefs”

  1. Thank you so much, Joan! This was one of my favorite posts to write, because I’ve been using these questions myself and finding them so helpful. Thanks for reading!

  2. Lori, I love your blog and this is one of your best posts yet. Thanks for the great thought prompts. We really can do much more than we give ourselves credit for. Joan

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