Henry Ford, one of the most influential men in history, once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He believed that the largest obstacle people faced, the obstacle that kept them from realizing their potential, were themselves. Now coming from your average Joe these words may have little meaning, but as I’m sure you will agree, Ford’s success gives those simple words a great deal of credence. By eliminating the words “I can’t” from his vocabulary, he created one of the largest empires in the world.
Self-limiting beliefs are huge obstacles to success. Recognizing these self-imposed limitations is the first step to overcoming them, allowing you to reach any goal you wish. Below are the 4 most common self-limiting beliefs:
1. Failure Lasts Forever
Failure can stop people in their tracks. They allow a lone setback in life to define who they are and stop them from realizing their potential. But failures do not have to be permanent, and in no way are they representative of who you really are. It’s true that we must live with the consequences of our actions, but learning from these consequences is what separates successful people from the crowd. Use these failures as an opportunity to grow, and move forward confidently with this new knowledge. You are more than your experiences and the lessons you learn, followed by the actions you take in the face of failure, will help you to achieve remarkable results in your life.
2. I’m Not Smart Enough
Many people believe they are not smart enough to make a difference. They feel success is reserved for people in an entirely different class than them—an elite group of some kind—and that greatness is reserved for only them. They feel they have no control or power over their own lives because they just don’t measure up. This is simply not true.
Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, was a common man with very little formal education, yet his belief in himself allowed him to revolutionize the world. Can you imagine what the world would have been like if he believed he wasn’t smart enough or worthy of his calling?
Everybody has something that makes them unique. The trick is to discover your special skills—the skills that make you who you are—and utilize them to create the type of life of which you can be proud.
3. I’m Not Worthy
Unfortunately there are people who believe they don’t deserve to be successful. They think that great success and happiness is reserved for others and regardless of what they do, they feel they will never measure up.
Unfortunately, living life this way seems safe to a lot of people. After all, if they never even try, failure, their worst fear, is not even possible. One can’t, for example, fail to land their dream job if they never even submit an application. Conversely though, using this same thought process, success proves to be unattainable as well. This manner of thinking poisons the possibility for success and positive change, and creates that mediocre existence that most people are constantly complaining about.
You are indeed worthy of success. Believe in yourself and your ideas. They have great worth because they come from you.
4. Nobody Likes Me
Fear of the way we are perceived can be a major impediment to growth. Many of us become paralyzed to action because we’re afraid of the way it will look to others, but this paralysis is completely unwarranted. The majority of people-those same people we worry about-are far too concerned about themselves and their own issues to even notice what we’re doing. If you think about it, concern over the way we are perceived is rather egotistical.
Now there are people who care about you, and thus have a vested stake in the decisions you make, but why in the world would you worry about their perceptions? They are the people who want you to succeed and will unfailingly root for you regardless of the outcome of the decisions you make. They are your support team, people who will be there for you through good and bad. Count yourself lucky for having them in your corner. The rest of the world, however, is too wrapped up in their own daily grind to have time to ponder yours. Don’t worry about how your actions will be perceived by others. Move forward with the knowledge that the people that matter to you will support you in everything you attempt.
Looking for a few good things to say to yourself? Here are 21 Positive Self-Talk Affirmations.
Done beating yourself up? Here are 66 Ways to Lessen Stress and Feel Happier.
One of the finest feelings is that state of satisfaction that accompanies accomplishment.
The feeling of pride you experience when you’ve managed to cross off those items on your “to do” list is amazingly rewarding. But that having been said, why, do you suppose, do people not strive to replicate that feeling on a more regular basis? Why do they settle for mediocrity and procrastination when accomplishment, and moreover, the fantastic feeling that goes hand-in-hand with it, is reasonably in reach?
The truth lies in a wise old saying: “We are our own worst enemies.” For some reason we sabotage our own success and enjoyment, settling instead for a life of uncertainty and only marginal happiness. Make no mistake though, people want things to change. They want more out of life but they convince themselves that they are not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or rich enough. Success and happiness, “they say”, is reserved for the few, the lucky.
This is hogwash! Success and the happiness that accompanies it, is accessible to everyone, but first we have to “get out of our own way.” We have to allow it to happen by eliminating self-sabotaging actions and beliefs and replace them with clearer objectives through which success can be achieved. The first step is to recognize the various forms of self-sabotage. Here are a few, recognize any?
In simple terms, procrastination is putting things—things that could be reasonably accomplished now—off until another time. For example, a high school senior who says she will start college in the fall is not procrastinating, but the person out of high school—the one lying around the house with goals that are undefined—is procrastinating. The problem is that this “other time” is rarely measurable. People say, “I’ll get to that tomorrow,” but when tomorrow comes they repeat the mantra and the process.
This procrastination is a major roadblock on the road to success. Many continue to put things off for years with the notion that another time may be more suitable. They wait and wait only to find out that the “more suitable” time never comes.
Make a list of the things you really want with clearly defined objectives on how you plan to achieve them. Most importantly, give each objective a timeline and stick to it. Even on the days you “don’t feel like it,” do it anyway. You’ll be happy you did. It sounds cliché, but there really is “no better time than the present.”
2. “I’m Not ______________ Enough” (Smart, Good, Talented, Pretty)
Believe it or not, rocket scientists were not born rocket scientists. They worked extremely hard to achieve their positions. If they are happy as a result of their success, being smart had very little to do with that happiness. They had a goal in mind, one that matched their abilities and interests, and they pursued it. They didn’t allow doubt and the occasional setback define who they were.
If you think about it, inferiority—feeling as if you are somehow beneath another person—is truly imaginary.
Allowing setbacks to act as permanent barriers to success is detrimental and wholly unnecessary. Just ask Michael Jordan. The man many consider to be the greatest basketball player in the history of the game, Michael Jordan, was cut by his high school basketball team. Some coach at a North Carolina high school believed he was not good enough, and sent him on his way. The rest of the story is so famous that I need not repeat it, but you probably see my point. Through hard work and an unshakeable belief in his own ability—his own dream—he was able to overcome an obstacle that, for some, would have stopped them in their tracks.
You can achieve anything you want if you are truly committed to it. Eliminate self-sabotaging beliefs and turn setbacks into opportunities to grow.
3. What will people think?
On a recent trip to the mall, I happened upon a mother and her very young daughter who were picking out clothes for a teddy bear they had purchased. Yes, strange as it sounds, I said teddy bear. Anyway, the young girl had selected a certain dress she really liked and I overheard her mother say, “Not that one honey. What will people think? It doesn’t match your room.” Naturally, the girl began to sob, but the mother did not relent. Now I know I shouldn’t be eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help wondering why this mother would deny her child the happiness of choosing the teddy bear clothes she really wanted, based on some ridiculous and erroneous notion of what others might think. Certainly the girl’s happiness—which will in turn create more happiness in the mother’s life—is more important than the way she might be perceived. Isn’t it?
When we allow thoughts and perceptions, such as those described, impede our path to happiness and success, it may be time to evaluate what is truly important. If you are acting in a positive and healthy manner, trying to improve your life and the life of your family, how could it possibly matter what others may think? The truth is that most people are far too concerned about themselves, and the way they are perceived by others, to even notice what you are doing. If you act according to your dreams, the people who really matter in this life will support you, and that, after all, is the only thing that matters.