Week 9 – Learn Your Limiting Beliefs (What is Holding You Back?)
In week 9, we’re going to learn our limiting beliefs so that we can begin to change our story. We’ll specifically focus on the money realm but I would encourage you to complete this exercise in all areas of your life.
By exploring our limiting beliefs, we’ll be in a much better place to create the future we’ve always wanted.
This article is part of our 52 Week Financial Freedom Journey. The goal is to take you through the ins and outs of becoming financially free. You will begin to answer pertinent questions for yourself that will allow you to lay the foundations for years to come. We have everything from learning your limiting beliefs around money to setting up a rock solid budget.
Welcome to the journey! Upward and onward to Financial Freedom!
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What Are Your Beliefs?
The very first step we need to take here is to become aware of our belief systems. In discovering our beliefs, we are going to see what attitudes really drive our everyday behaviors.
These beliefs can either be overt – meaning we are aware of them and know how they operate in our psyche, or covert – meaning we are unaware of them and they operate on the subconscious level.
Note: this exercise can be a bit challenging, especially if beliefs are hidden in our subconscious mind and we’re not necessarily aware of those beliefs. I recommend getting started with a book like The Feeling Good Handbook by Dr. David Burns and look to get involved with a professional therapist.
Overt (Conscious) Beliefs
Conscious beliefs are those that we live with on a daily basis. We are generally aware of what we are believing. These beliefs can be things such as:
- I am very good at budgeting and keep a great checking account.
- I will never get out of debt, it’s too massive.
- I do not know how to invest, so I’ll trust my money with others.
The part of these beliefs that make it easier to work on is that we are actively aware of these overt beliefs by what we say to ourselves on a daily basis. While knowledge is the easy part, changing these beliefs is certainly challenging and time consuming, but it can be done with consistent effort and dedication. More on this later.
Covert (Subconscious) Beliefs
Subconscious beliefs are harder to identify because they are largely operating on the subconscious level and we are unaware of them. This does not mean that we are forever beholden to these beliefs, but it will require doing exercises to first become aware of the beliefs before we can begin to challenge them.
It is worth reiterating that learning and challenging our beliefs, especially of the subconscious nature, will require persistence and dedication. Here are some recommendations to helping you work through your beliefs:
- Work with a Professional Therapist or Life Coach – Working with a professional can help to expedite this process. Therapists can be expensive, but remember that you are worth it.
- Look into EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) – Alternatively, look into benefits offered by your company. Many companies offer EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) for if an employee is going through a challenging time. These could include a few complimentary sessions with a counselor. While not the end-all-be-all, it is very helpful in the discovery process.
- Peer Support Groups – If nothing else, associate with others that are on the similar self-discovery process as you are. This could be a group of friends after the same goals, 12 step groups, or online groups with other like-minded individuals. The key is to be around others who are actively working on growing their world and changing their belief system for the better.
Change Your Story, Change Your Life.
Once we become aware of our beliefs, it is now time to begin changing these beliefs for the better. This process can be simply summed up as: change your story, and change your life.
Let’s take the example that the story you tell yourself is that you always get into debt and that you will never be able to escape. This story creates the belief system in your mind and thus, it sets the reality that you live out on a daily basis. I would be willing to bet that if you have this belief system and never change it, a life of debt struggle will continue to be your path forward for the foreseeable future. The story that you tell yourself becomes the reality that you live.
The story that you tell yourself becomes the reality that you live.
So how do you escape this and change your story for the better? Good question – I’m glad that you asked.
You’ve already done the first step towards change by becoming aware of the belief systems that are operating in our life. Now that we are aware of this belief system, it is now time for change. This is where the hard but rewarding work comes into play. Though it is challenging to begin changing the way that we view the world, it is necessary to do so to ensure that we can live the type of life we want.
How to Change the Story
Changing the story can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. With consistent and dedicated actions, we can begin to change the story that we tell ourselves. Once we truly adopt a new way of thinking, our entire life will begin to improve for the better.
In last week’s lesson, we learned that affirmations play a very large part in helping to change our story. We talked specifically about repeating affirmations that would help to build our motivation towards change.
We want to maintain the repetition of our positive motivations, but keep in mind that if we want to change the story that we tell ourselves, we have to ensure that the affirmations are specific to actually changing our story.
The key is to be mindful of the story we are telling ourselves and then begin to prime a new narrative for our lives.
Let’s take the story, “I’m bad with money and will always be in debt.”
This line of thinking (aka our negative story) is what keeps us in situations and circumstances where debt is plentiful but money is not. We will need to begin replacing this belief with our new, positive narrative which can help us manifest change in our life.
Example of an Affirmation
Old Story: “I’m bad with money and will always be in debt.”
New, positive affirmations (which help reinforce the new story):
- I am getting better at managing my money on a daily basis.
- Also, I am a wise spender and only make purchases that I have the cash to pay for.
- I am living in an abundant universe and more money is coming into my life on a daily basis.
The goal is to write down an alternate story that makes sense to you; note that you don’t have to necessarily believe it yet – that is where the repetition of the affirmations will come into play.
One more note: make the affirmations that we tell ourselves present tense. I.e. “I am” is a much better way to begin an affirmation that “I will”.
Another prime tool to be used in changing your Financial Freedom story is a daily meditation practice. By setting aside time to meditate, you begin to tap into that special mindspace where you become aware of who you really are and what you really need. You become more mindful.
What is mindfulness? I define it as “being aware of the present moment and your living in it.” By becoming mindful, we’re really living in the here and now, where if you really think about it, is the only place we can be. From this mindful place, meditation becomes much more enlightening.
You may have seen various ways of meditating: sitting cross-legged in an open field, sitting in an unmoving state on a sandy beach, etc. While I’m all for getting out in nature and being in a comfortable position, you don’t need to follow any specific script to properly meditate.
Rather the idea is to find a method, time, and process that works for you.
Currently, I use various forms of meditation to center myself. One of my favorite ways to meditate is something I call “tea meditation”. In this type of meditation, I brew myself a nice cup of tea, find a great spot to sit – somewhere comfy – and then contemplate whatever comes to my mind while enjoying some nice matcha maker. I have used this type of meditation to center myself, which has allowed some major revelations to surface in my life.
Another great way to begin changing your limiting beliefs is to adopt the practice of positive visualizations. In this practice, you envision yourself engaging in behaviors and living the life that you truly want.
Since the mind does not differentiate between what is make-believe and what is real, if you can imagine something positively repetitively, you prime yourself to have a better chance for manifesting those circumstances in your life.
Speaking from a financial perspective, if your mindset is constantly on the idea that you have lack and that is what you are envisioning in your life every single day, it is time to begin changing that narrative through a positive visualization practice.
Positive visualization is similar to meditation – you will want to sit down somewhere where you can really focus your mind on abundance and living the life you want. For instance, if you have a problem with overspending, you can envision yourself at a department store with an object that you want to buy in front of you. Instead of your typical habit of pulling out your credit card and buying the thing, you can visualize yourself noticing the urge to buy this item, appreciating that urge, and then walking away without making the purchase.
Even though it is not real life, your mind will not know the difference between fantasy and reality. It will be as though you have chosen not to purchase the thing in real life, even though it only happened in your mind. If you keep up this consistent visualization practice, you’ll begin to build better habits around spending. It will then become easier and easier when a you encounter a real-life situation where you are tempted to overspend on an item that you may not necessarily need.
Positive Visualization – A Personal Story
I have personally noticed how well positive visualization has worked in my own life. To provide a non-financial example: I used to be an okay shooter at basketball but not great. A few years ago, I was turned on to the idea of the power of positive visualization from reading a book about Phil Jackson and his coaching style.
He would often take his NBA teams, who happened to consist of the best players in the world, such as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, through meditation exercises in which they visualized themselves performing at their peak levels.
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to begin my own life in the basketball realm. So I began visualizing myself shooting with a perfect swish every time. I did this for some weeks and I started to see the results manifest themselves on the basketball court. When I did this practice on a consistent basis – saw myself doing the thing in my mind’s eye – I could not miss a shot on the court. Anything that I shot to the rim went in.
Since this experience, I have become a firm believer that even though it may take a lot of practice to instill a positive belief system in our lives, the benefit of doing so is well worth it. Begin practicing positive visualization around those areas in which you want to improve today and see the abundance manifest in your life.
Be Kind & Gentle with Yourself
One of the best things that we can do for ourselves is to become gentle and kind with ourselves throughout the change process. This is especially true when we are confronting our limiting beliefs, which can take much effort and dedication to change.
I’ve done a lot of personal development work myself and I have seen firsthand from my own experience how challenging it can be to change or alter long-standing beliefs, especially if they are operating at a subconscious level and we are not even aware of them quite yet.
Case in point – I took a personality test once was amazed to see that I scored very high on the critical parent influence spectrum. This means that I often operate from a place of criticism of self and oftentimes am very hard on myself.
Becoming aware of this has been only half of the journey; now my goal is to be gentle with myself as I go throughout life accomplishing my goals. I find that life becomes a lot more enjoyable when I operate from a place of giving myself credit for things that I’ve accomplished which naturally encourages me to accomplish even more.
Give Gratitude & See Progress
One of the best ways that we can be gentle and kind with ourselves is to give gratitude and see the progress along the way throughout our entire journey.
Recycling previous week’s the importance of goal setting and tracking our goals as a met as a way to continue to see progress and maintain motivation in this amazing life Journey. Things like setting daily systems which we achieve on a daily basis can really help us see all the awesome progress that we’re making. Another very important aspect but that practice is to give gratitude for everything that was young. I know that for me it is easier sometimes to see things that I haven’t done or to see areas where I can improve rather than give gratitude for where I am at and everything that I’ve done. I have begun to do gratitude walks, in which I’ll take 10 to 15 minutes to give thanks for all the great things that I have in my life. By giving gratitude and, I am better able to see the amazing things in my life. This helps me to begin to see progress more easily instead of seeing everything that I need to get done.
- Find 30-60 minutes of uninterrupted time where you can lay out your limiting beliefs. Lay out as many beliefs as you can during this time period.
- Maintain a journal where you can keep track of beliefs as you become aware of them. During this exercise, you’ll want to track the limiting beliefs that you want to change. You don’t need to change them quite yet – the goal is to begin becoming aware of them and then over time, the beliefs will begin to change.
- Based on the limiting beliefs you have identified, develop at least 10+ affirmations to help improve your life.
- Schedule time in your day to practice meditation and a positive visualization routine. I have found that the best time for me is at night before bedtime, but figure out what works best for you.
- Practice giving gratitude. Whenever you can, think of three things that you are grateful for. This will begin to change your mindset for the positive and you will begin naturally seeing the positive. I’d recommend starting a gratitude journal where you can record these items and review daily.
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