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Negative Beliefs Are Holding You Back In Work And In Life

By Karin Freeland


Have you ever wondered why some people are more successful than others? It’s rarely a question of raw talent. In fact, people who have to work harder at something to achieve success can and will outperform those who are born with natural ability. So, if it’s not talent, then what is separating professionals from reaching their full potential? 


Turns out, it’s something far less tangible: Mindset! In the coaching world, we often talk about limiting beliefs, which are any negative thoughts that holds an individual back and subconsciously limits their potential. Limiting beliefs can come from any number of sources: your upbringing, societal messages, past experiences or trauma. It’s perfectly normal to experience limiting beliefs (everyone does), but you don’t have to let them control you any longer.   


In my experience, there are a few common limiting beliefs that I see in my clients over and over. However, if you’ve had these thoughts, it’s not the kiss of death. You can regain control over your thoughts and put your brain to work for your benefit. You can breathe a sigh of relief now. 


  • Limiting Belief #1 “I’m too old to make a change:” Many women worry about ageism when they are considering a move late in their career. And while that can and does occur in a small number of cases, it’s not nearly as much of a concern as your thoughts are making it out to be. I’ve seen several women land career-making jobs in their fifties and sixties. As an experienced professional you have a tremendous amount to offer the workforce. When I asked one client why she thought she was too old, she shared that the one place she had applied to said she was overqualified. She had immediately associated that with her age and began telling herself a story that she was too old to change jobs. That was hardly an accurate assessment of the situation, but that’s what our brains do in an attempt to keep us safe. Instead, change that thought to, “I have expertise in my field, which makes me an asset to any company seeking someone with my skills.” You’re never too old if you are capable of doing the job at hand.   

  • Limiting Belief #2 “No one will understand why I made this decision:” Since when does anyone need to understand, or approve of, your dreams and desires? After all, they aren’t the one living your life, waking up and paying your bills, going to your job, doing your work. It’s often the fear of what we assume coworkers will think if you leave the company you’ve been at for so long or what friends will think if you start that business you’ve been dreaming about that holds women back. They’re putting so much stock in other’s opinions that they forget their own opinion is the one that truly matters. No one has to understand your dreams and desires. Only you. One of the ways I help my clients make better decisions and trust their intuition is by helping them create a list of criteria or a filter for making decisions. From there you can run your options through that filter, and then do a final gut check. If it feels right after all that, you can be confident in your decision and stop letting other’s opinions hold you back.    

  • Limiting Belief #3 “I don’t have the skill set needed for that (role, job, venture):”  For some reason, women feel they need to have all the qualifications before applying for a role or trying something new. Not only is that not the case, but nearly impossible that you’ll ever have all the qualifications needed when making a change. Therefore, I encourage you to stop focusing on the skills you don’t have and start focusing on the skills you do have. What strengths do you possess that will help you in the new role, job or venture? How does that help you stand out from the competition? Dig deep and really consider what you bring to the table. If you look at yourself objectively I think you’ll be surprised just how much you have to offer. If you still feel you have a weakness that can’t be overlooked, this is a great time to get some training or support in that area. You can probably work that in tandem while you’re pursuing your new path.  

Now that you understand these limiting beliefs you can question them, turn them around, or reject and release them. By exploring these beliefs more deeply, you’ll remove the power they’ve held over you in the past and be free to replace them with new beliefs that serve you better.     

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