What Are Limiting Beliefs + How Do You Clear Them? | Beliefs affect every aspect of our lives, for better or worse. So, what exactly are limiting beliefs? And how do we identify and clear them?

My classmates and I dashed to the line at doorway K5: Kindergarten 5.

We gripped our backpack straps and softened our voices, gearing up to meet our parents at the school entrance.  

Then, the bell rang.

A flood of children surged all around me.  Excited shouts. Shoes scrambling.

Parents scanned the crowd. Their eyes lit up as soon as the search ended. One by one, each child jumped into their parent’s arms, as if it had been years.     

I huddled near the front gate. Soon, there was no one but me.

Tears rolled down my face: Where was Mom?! Everything became a blur. The receptionist appeared and guided me into the building.   

My mom didn’t forget me. She was stuck in traffic and had no way to contact the school.

But at the time, I couldn’t understand. I could barely handle my emotions. 

That’s probably when I began believing I’m not good enough. That’s why loved ones abandon me.

What are limiting beliefs?  

A belief is a thought (or several thoughts) that colors our worldview and shapes our lives.

Core beliefs affect our emotions and actions—and thus, our relationships, work, success and even health. In short, beliefs create our reality.

Most of our beliefs are unconscious. That means we don’t have as much control as we may think we do.

The fear of being abandoned overwhelmed me when my mom picked me up late from school. As a 5 year-old, I couldn’t make sense of it all. 

So my mind helped me interpret the situation the best it could: This happened because I’m not good enough. Ironically, our mind wants to protect us and help us cope with tough situations. 

This unconscious reaction stems from our body’s survival mechanism. Even emotionally stressful situations can trigger it. It’s just how our brain and nervous system order the billions of bits of information we encounter each minute. 

Psychologist Dr. Chris Walton writes in The Gamma Mindset that we “screen our experiences according to our beliefs, focusing on what our beliefs tell us is important and ignoring or glossing over the rest”.

Most of our beliefs come from:

  • family
  • media
  • social/economic class
  • geographical location
  • culture
  • religion
  • history
  • science
  • school
  • friends/colleagues/peers
  • political system

Beliefs, prejudices and assumptions pepper our lives. For example, I can’t make money doing what I love or My relationships never work out. It’s easy to imagine how these beliefs would shape us.

Fortunately, we can learn how to identify limiting beliefs and plant new ones. Doing so frees us, so that we may experience more peace, love and abundance.

How to identify limiting beliefs

I began by searching examples of limiting beliefs online. 

Several beliefs glared at me on the screen. And I discovered many more, just by listening to my intuition as I read them.

What thoughts, emotions or sensations arise after you read each of these 10 common beliefs? 

As uncomfortable as they may seem, your reactions show what parts of you need care.

  1. I’m not good enough.
  2. Mistakes and failures are bad.
  3. I don’t deserve a better life.
  4. There’s not enough time or money.
  5. Something bad always happens.
  6. It’s unspiritual to have lots of money.
  7. I can’t succeed.
  8. People won’t like who I truly am.
  9. My opinion isn’t important.
  10.  I’ll never be happy.  

Another way to identify your limiting beliefs is to observe recurring patterns. 

As an adult, I couldn’t understand why my friends were often late to hangouts. I didn’t dare speak up, fearing rejection. But it deeply hurt me.

This pattern often repeated itself, leaving me in despair.

So I turned inwards and breathed into my pain. I asked the universe, What are you trying to teach me? No answer. 

Meanwhile, my ego blurted, This is so unfair! How can people be so disrespectful?

Many spiritual teachers encourage us to not bother with such thoughts. But my ego pushed and pulled at me, wailing for my care.

When I finally embraced my agony, a tiny voice uttered, I’m scared. It was my inner child, hiding beneath the covers. 

What are you scared of? I asked.

Of being abandoned.

Suddenly, images of that fateful school day bloomed in my mind. My lonely 5-year-old self was weeping for Mom.

This process taught me it’s okay to get involved with “negative” thoughts. Because I healed unconscious pain and identified a major limiting belief.

Now I could take the reins back.

How to clear limiting beliefs

Once we identify our beliefs, it’s time to welcome the painful emotions tied to them.

All beliefs served us at some point. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for letting those beliefs rule our lives for so long. They helped us digest trying times.

Now we can shine our awareness on the underlying emotions. We can use grounding techniques to stay anchored. 

I can’t stress this point enough: Meeting our pain with love unravels limiting beliefs.

Little by little, our loving awareness takes the power out of old habits and beliefs. Then we can begin to enjoy the sweetness of freedom—the ability to choose a different reaction and make wiser choices.

Some psychologists recommend rationalizing limiting beliefs and acting on new ones to prove their validity. This method only worked for a little while before my ego returned stronger than before!

Instead, practicing mindfulness meditation throughout my entire day was key. The more I embraced my pain around a limiting belief, the more everything fell into place. I didn’t need to do much more than that to improve my life.

Why?

Because we’re already love, peace and abundance. We just couldn’t experience it because our past wounds blocked them.

Fortunately, energy work can accelerate the process. I use EFT during my coaching calls, though you can try aromatherapy, Reiki, crystals, qi gong, hypnosis, etc.

It’s important to respect divine timing though. Sometimes, wounds don’t quite heal, despite our efforts. Other times, past hurts emerge out of nowhere and force us to meet them.

Old stories will dissipate, as long as you keep returning to your loving awareness.  

We’re more than our beliefs

It’s not easy to embody our true nature—peaceful and free.

As children, we learned how to adapt to our environment to ensure our well-being. 

When difficult situations occured, it was more bearable to repress painful emotions. That way, we could keep functioning within the chaos.

Now it’s time to encourage our inner child to come out from under the covers. To hold her hand and show her she’s safe.

We can mourn with her and clear the pain around limiting beliefs. So that she may thrive and shine her light again.

May you take refuge in your innate love and peace.

*If you’d like personalized guidance, I offer coaching packages to help you make peace with the past.


About the author

Hush Your Mind | Annie Moussu is a mindfulness-based life coach who helps women let go of perfectionism, self-doubt and people-pleasing.

Annie Moussu is a spiritual coach offering practical wisdom to awakening souls. The world needs your inner peace. Sign up for her newsletter to get blog articles twice a month.