Self-limiting beliefs are the negative perceptions we have about ourselves that hold us back from succeeding in life because we don’t believe we can achieve what we desire.  The things we repeatedly think and say leave an imprint on our subconscious mind that affect the way we behave.  Also, the negative experiences we have had, can lead us to expect the same thing to happen again in similar situations.  Some of the reason we develop these self limited beliefs are explained below.


Being teased as a child may have embarrassed and shamed you.  Even if it wasn’t meant to harm you it could lead you to avoid trying something again in case it you get teased again and those negative feeling return.  

  • A child putting their hand up in class to answer a maths question after completely misunderstanding the question and feeling a fool for getting it wrong could end up with them believing they were no good at maths leading to a complete block in understand any future lessons.  In adulthood they may avoid careers that involves working with numbers because they believe they are no good with them.    
  • At about six years I old was laughed at by the whole class when I cried during a music lesson, the children and the teachers assumed I was crying about the song we were singing and all laughed and mocked me for being so silly, the truth was at the time I didn’t even realise I was crying and it definitely wasn’t about the song.  Every time we sang the song after that they would all tell me not to cry.   This contributed to me being a very shy child who could never show feelings.  In adulthood I hated crying in front of anyone and would avoid situation that may result in it because I couldn’t handle other people response to it, even worse I would repress my feelings and act like I didn’t care. 

Neglect and abuse has a serious detrimental effect on how children feel about themselves; from being physically or mentally abused by caregivers to being bullied and isolated by their peers.   They may believe they are not as good as other people, that they don’t deserve to be happy or loved and this could lead toxic relationships in adulthood or avoiding relationships altogether.   Even if you forget these events from early childhood and grow to be confident and happy, you may encounter situations where you feel uncomfortable and anxious without knowing why leading you to have doubts about your ability to maintain a relationship or fit into social circles.

This is a vast and complicated area, you can imagine many scenarios and how they can impact personal development.  In serious situations, a professional councillor or psychologist may be needed to help identify and overcome the underlying issues.   In less serious situations such as shyness and low self-esteem there are many resources you can use to help yourself, such as meditation, self-hypnosis, emotional freedom technique, to name just a few.

Social Conditioning

You may come from a background of poverty where it is considered normal to struggle through life making ends meet.   You’re taught not to expect more from life so you don’t even dream of a better life because the people you know and love are all in the same situation as you.  You could have been told you are ‘getting above yourself’ for daring to imagine being successful or gaining a better quality of life, this can come from other people’s self-limiting beliefs or from them not wanting you to rise above your situation because you will leave them behind or make them feel like a failure.   An example of this could be a family who relies on benefits and knows the system inside out because that is what they grew up with and they pass on the knowledge to their children as a means to survive.  Or a working class family who has not had the benefit of quality education believing that they are not clever enough to go on to higher education and better their careers.

From a personal point of view, no one told me that I wouldn’t be successful etc. but I wasn’t encouraged to do better either.  Because I was painfully shy at school, the teachers assumed I was stupid and didn’t attempt to bring me out of my shell or help me with my work, I was sent to remedial lessons because they though I was a slow learner.  When I went on to high school I just assumed I would be in the bottom class but when we were graded I was put in one of the top classes which was a huge surprise to me and my parents.   It just shows how you can accept who you think you are by the way people treat you.


We are all guilty of putting ourselves down, we are our worst critics and see flaws in ourselves that no one else would notice.  Some of the things we say that hold us back are:

  • I’m not good enough, not clever enough, pretty enough, fit enough – not enough
  • I don’t belong
  • I’ll never be able to do that
  • I’m stupid for making that mistake
  • I haven’t got the time
  • I’m too fat or unfit


What you think about and focus your attention on, you get more of.   So, if you constantly tell yourself that you are not good enough, will never have something, can’t do that etc. you are convincing yourself of that and instilling deep beliefs about yourself.  I remember as a child my mum always used to say ‘There’s no such thing as can’t!’ I didn’t really understand it at the time but now I believe if you really want to achieve something enough and believe in yourself you can achieve it.   It requires a positive mindset to keep motivated though.   


I always wanted to write but couldn’t decide what to write about and ‘my negative voice’ told me that no one would want to read what I had to say anyway, I didn’t have the time and would never be successful etc.   Having these beliefs prevented me from going further than writing a few pages.  Recently though, I thought about this negative self-talk and how I’m my own worst critic and bully, and realising that no one could say anything about me that I hadn’t already said to myself seemed to empower me.  As soon as you notice negative thoughts taking over your mind you can take steps to control it.


Recognise when the negative voice starts and stop and think about what you would say to a friend in the same situation, would you say the same to them or would you highlight the things they have achieved and the talents and knowledge they already have and encourage them to just ‘do it anyway’?  Why not try doing that for yourself?  The more you practice the easier it will be to be kind and supportive to yourself.

Recently a short video popped up on my YouTube feed about the ‘5 second Rule’ by Mel Robbins. It is a very simple method of counting backwards from five to stop the negative thoughts and habbit’s that prevent us moving forward and achieving our goals, I will be writing more about this in my blog but its worth taking a look at the video and giving it a try.


It may not be easy for everyone to just start being more positive, depending on you level of self esteem you may need more than an encouraging voice.   The first step is to identify your limiting beliefs in the first place and find a way to change that belief.   There are many self-help books and methods out there to help you but maybe just try the following first:

  • Identify the self-limiting belief, write down what it is you believe and why.
  • Think about if you really believe these things, are they logical or are using them to make excuses. Is there something you can do to change this belief like take and course in something, practice a skill etc.
  • Try to imagine you were encouraging a friend to change the way they think about themselves and imagine someone you believe in saying them to you.
  • For every negative belief, think of a positive response e.g. ’I always fail exams’ – ‘so far I haven’t passed an exam but that doesn’t mean I never will’
  • When you notice your negative thinking, STOP and Be loving and kind to yourself
  • Use affirmations about what you would like to do, be, achieve etc.

These are just a few examples and there are many self-development and healing systems you can use to help to such as EFT, The Emotion Code and The Law of Attraction (Manifestation).

I hope you found this article interesting and useful. If you like this take look at some of my other pages or blog posts where I talk about different therapies and my own wellbeing journey. If you’d like to see my future content then please enter your email and press subscribe below and you will be alerted when I publish anything new. Thank You for taking the time to read this. Until next time, I wish you all the very best. Janet x

I am currently affiliated with Body FX. This page may contain other affiliated links and if you purchase any item from following one of these links I may receive a small commission. Images that I haven’t taken myself are from or

I am currently affiliated with Body FX. This page may contain other affiliated links and if you purchase any item from following one of these links I may receive a small commission. Images that I haven’t taken myself are from or

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