what limiting beliefs are

What limiting beliefs are (+ 7 easy ways to beat them in a relatively short time)

What is self esteem?

It’s important to identify this, and also figure out what limiting beliefs are and how they hold us back.

According to Psychology Today, “Confidence in one’s value as a human being is a precious psychological resource and generally a highly positive factor in life; it is correlated with achievement, good relationships, and satisfaction. Possessing little self-regard can lead people to become depressed, to fall short of their potential, or to tolerate abusive relationships and situations.”

That is such a good way to phrase it! Self esteem is “confidence in one’s value as a human being.” We all deserve to have that, but sadly, millions lack it due to a variety of reasons.

One reason many people lack the self esteem they require to be happy is something called limiting beliefs. If this is a term you have never heard of, keep your eyes peeled to find out what limiting beliefs are.

I was inspired to start this series because I see so many people struggling right now. It is a really challenging time for people all around the world. People are scared, anxious, and not sure what the world is going to look like in the coming months.

You can read the previous posts in the series here:

What is negative thinking? Take a sneak peek inside your brain!

Snowballing thoughts: What are they and how can you make them stop ASAP

9 mind-blowing effects of chronic negative emotions + thoughts- and why happiness is more achievable than you think

In this post, I am going to talk about what limiting beliefs are. I’m also going to talk about how you develop your beliefs system as a child, and share 7 ways to develop better self esteem.

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. See my Privacy and Affiliate Disclaimer pages for more info.

Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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Wondering what limiting beliefs are?

We all have them whether we realize it or not. We just might not realize what limiting beliefs are called. Here are some that I have that I am trying to work through:

  • Success is not for me
  • Mental health is not for me
  • It is difficult to be happy
  • Having a lot of money means you’re corrupt

The sad part is, you develop these beliefs without even realizing it, and they are massively damaging to your self esteem. According to Lifehack, “A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way. This limiting belief could be about you, your interactions with other people, or with the world and how it works.”

I’ve been trying to figure out what limiting beliefs are and trying to identify ones that might be holding me back from being successful and happy. But it’s definitely not easy! It takes a lot of introspection and patience.

This is where journaling can be so handy. Journaling is a great mental health tool for just about every situation!

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Journaling to figure out what limiting beliefs are

I definitely recommend journaling if you are trying to what limiting beliefs are messing with your life. If you aren’t sure what thoughts are holding you back, spend 5 minutes writing about the following topics:

  • Finances
  • Success
  • Family
  • Love
  • Self worth
  • Happiness

These are common areas where people struggle, so make sure to write honestly and openly without taking time to edit or censor your thoughts. You might be surprised at what you figure out! If you don’t have a journal, I highly recommend that you order one as soon as possible. Order one that suits you using the image below!

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How you develop your beliefs system

According to the Lifehack article I linked earlier, there are a few different ways you can develop your limiting beliefs. The main ones are family, education, and experiences. Let me know which ones you can relate to the most in the comments!

What limiting beliefs are caused by family?

Unfortunately, as well meaning as our parents often are, that is a major source of limiting beliefs. (Parents and other regular caregivers.) Especially, I think for people in my generation.

As a millennial born to boomer parents (I was born in 1986, they 1954 and 1956), I was raised with a distinct set of beliefs that are very common to the era they were raised in. A lot of younger Gen Xers might feel the same way.

My parents were raised in the age of tradition and classic Midwest Americana. It was post-world war, and patriotism leaked from their pores. Fences were white picket. Families had 2.5 kids and a dog. You went to church on Sunday. You cleaned your plate. And you always hugged Aunt Eileen when she comes for a visit.

We are seeing a massive cultural shift in those areas:

  • The definition of family
  • Grappling with religious/spiritual identity
  • The anti-diet culture revolution
  • A rise in awareness about the important of bodily autonomy
  • Shifting towards a more skeptical form of patriotism

As someone who has been alive when these shifts have taken place in society, I can understand the way limiting beliefs can form. It is easy to form confusions or be insecure about things you were raised to believe were true, but might not necessarily identify with now.

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What limiting beliefs are caused by education?

I was lucky to have a few extremely influential teachers in my school career. They inspired me and made what we difficult formative years a little easier to deal with.

But I also had teachers that made me feel insecure and “less than.” One teacher in particular always had a habit of comparing me to my younger sister (who was one of his favorite students).

It’s very common to develop limiting beliefs during the course of your education, or from other authority figures. There might be people who were raised in a very conservative religion who had nuns tell them they were bad people for doing XYZ thing.

This may not be as common as beliefs instilled by parents or caregivers, but they are just as deeply rooted. For what it’s worth, I still compare myself to my sister 15 years later.

What limiting beliefs are caused by experiences?

This is really common as well. If you experience a lot of negative things, you are going to develop a lot of negative thought patterns. This one might be the hardest to control. After all, it’s easier to stand up to and control people than it is to control life circumstances. As you get older, you can tell the negative people in your life where to go!

But life experiences are harder to control. Those that are plagued by mental health issues might begin to believe that happiness is impossible. People who have a string of horrible bosses might believe that being successful makes you a terrible person.

Check out this quick video about what limiting beliefs are and how they can influence your life!

7 ways to develop better self esteem

The most important step in our quest to figure out what limiting beliefs are is simple. Take action! It’s not easy by any means, but it is simple to understand that your beliefs system will never change if you do not work at it daily.

Here are 7 ways you can develop better self esteem with little time or financial investment:


As I mentioned above, journaling is a great way to identify what limiting beliefs are present, and how they affect you. Probably the best way to go about this is free association journaling to start with.

For example, money is a common source of limiting beliefs, so start by spending 5 minutes writing down:

  • Everything you believe about money
  • What your parents explicitly taught you
  • Ways you saw your parents deal with financial strain
  • Ways your parents talked about wealthy people

It can be a very illuminating exercise, and obviously does not cost a lot to try! Only the cost of a journal and a pen. Can’t hurt.


Meditation is an excellent practice for anxiety, depression, trauma, and so many other mental health related troubles. A lot of people shy away from it, because they “aren’t good at it.” They think they won’t be able to concentrate, so they write it off all together.

If this sounds like you, I recommend guided meditation. They do the work for you, but telling you what sound, image, or word to focus on. Doing this for even 10 minutes a day before you go to bed can be massively beneficial.

Here is an example of a guided meditation for limiting beliefs:

Check it out, and then share this post with anyone you think might benefit from this.

See a therapist

Therapy has been such a wonderful tool for me.  This is one of the more costly items on this list, but also one of the most valuable.  Ask your insurance what services are covered if it is unclear.

Therapists are trained in all sorts of situations, and you can find ones that suit your personality and personal beliefs system if that makes you more comfortable. (ex., a Christian therapist)

If you’re still unclear as to what limiting beliefs are keeping you from being the person you want to be, make an appointment with a licensed therapist! They can help you figure this all out, and come up with ways to raise your self esteem.

Talk to the people who influenced you

This can be tricky, especially if you do not have a good relationship with them. But if it’s possible to have a civilized conversation with the person who instilled these beliefs in you, try it!

For example, if you were raised by your mother to believe that women need to behave a certain way, talk to her. Ask her who taught her those things, and why she feels they were so important. See if you can find some common ground for a rational discussion.

Expand your horizons

Lots of times, limiting beliefs exist in people who are closed-minded. That’s not to say, if you’re reading this I’m saying you are closed-minded. But sometimes, people can develop certain beliefs without even being aware of it.

One way to figure out what limiting beliefs are keeping you from having a more open mind if you’re unsure is to expand your horizons! Using my previous example, if you were raised to believe women must be XYZ, spend time with women who do the total opposite. Get to know them and see their humanity.

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Travel is a simple way to experience new things and broaden your horizons. If you can, try to take an annual vacation to a place that is far different from what you’re used to. Engage with the people, eat the food, see how they live.

Traveling is so beneficial for you in general. Not only does can it change your beliefs system, but it can inspire you to continue pursuing the things that matter to you.

Work on personal development

Once you figure out what limiting beliefs are holding you back, you need to begin your personal development journey. Here are a few books I recommend for general personal development, but do a search on Amazon as well for more specific ideas.

These are books that have really influenced me over the years, and I would recommend to anyone. Click the images to order one, or search for something that interests you.

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Download this free self esteem worksheet

Once you figure out what limiting beliefs are in that brain of yours, it’s time to work on rebuilding your self esteem. Use this free self esteem worksheet to get started! You can download it and print it as many times as you need to.

Figure out what limiting beliefs are holding you back, and say Bye Bye!

Here’s the tea. Whether or not you realize it, you are entitled to live a happy life where you aren’t constantly doubting yourself.

I know that this is easier said than done. It can take years of hard work to undo the things that were unintentionally done to us. Some of them may never go away entirely. But with some dedicated work, you can definitely make progress.

Let me know in the comments what limiting beliefs are in your head on a daily basis! And make sure to share this post on social media using the buttons on the top of the screen.

You deserve to live a life of high self esteem and happiness!

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Related posts for limiting beliefs:

Limiting beliefs: Why you should change the way you talk to your children

Raising happy kids: How to foster happiness and confidence

Why journaling for mental health is something you need to try ASAP

Encouraging bodily autonomy in childen