As an entrepreneur, the biggest obstacle to your success is not the lack of time or money. It’s what you believe about yourself, specifically, your self-limiting beliefs.
Why Are Self-Limiting Beliefs Deadly to Entrepreneurs?
Productivity is vital to entrepreneurs, especially early-stage entrepreneurs, because your business utterly depends on how productive you are. In the early stages of your business, chances are, cash flow might be shaky and resources limited, therefore you will need to leverage the hell out of your time. Unfortunately, self-limiting beliefs are deadly to entrepreneurs, because, if unchecked, they tend to:
- Lower your aspirations, hopes and dreams. Because, deep down inside, you don’t truly believe you can accomplish a desired goal, you set your goal lower. This lowers the bar of achievement from remarkable towards mediocrity. Not only are you limiting your true potential, you are radically limiting the success of your business. By offering an unremarkable product or service to the market, you will have a harder time standing out in the marketplace and you are setting yourself for more competition from throngs of other mediocre providers.
- Spawn patterns of self-sabotage. I’ve seen this in action and it ain’t pretty. It often looks like this. You think deep down inside you are a failure and don’t deserve success. But you so earnestly long for success, so you throw everything into your entrepreneurial pursuit, working 60, 80, 100 hours a week on it to the brink of exhaustion. However, something in you, in spite of how hard you are working, causes you to make fatal errors that completely negate all the energy and hard work you’ve put into your endeavor. The fatal, self-sabotage could involve product quality issues, or stretching yourself so thin, that you are unable to monetize anything, or making some other business killing mistake. When the project fails, it only serves to reinforce the belief that you are a failure and don’t deserve success.
- Increase procrastination and laziness. It becomes easier to put off an important task if you don’t believe performing that task is going to lead you to success. And because, deep down inside, you don’t believe you can truly achieve your goal, it makes it easy to avoid doing the necessary work of growing your business in favor of social diversions, surfing Facebook, watching TV, you name it.
- Drain your energy. Ever notice the energy drain that happens when you are emotionally conflicted? Your heart wants to do one thing, but your mind wants to do something else, so you end up fighting with yourself. This internal struggle will drain your energy big time. As an entrepreneur, you need to carefully manage and cultivate the best energy possible to work on your business, otherwise, the quality and quantity of what you accomplish within a set period of time will be adversely impacted. When your heart and mind are aligned, you will find yourself with the energy to move mountains.
Sounds awful doesn’t it? Well, don’t you worry, I’ve got some powerful exercises you can do to identify and eliminate self-limiting beliefs in the span of a hour.
These techniques come from a period of coaching I went through with an individual who specializes in helping entrepreneurs thrive. Mark Lewis, a.k.a. “The Thrive Coach” helped me get through some of the most challenging, stressful episodes of my entrepreneurial journey, which were made more difficult by the energy drain created by certain pervasive self-limiting beliefs that I had held for a long time.
The Logical Technique to Eliminating Self-Limiting Beliefs
This technique is really great for people who tend more towards the logical than towards the metaphysical. So if you have a hard time believing in anything to do with the Law of Attraction and Manifestation, this technique is for you.
- Carve out some quiet time to identify your self-limiting beliefs and write them down. HINT: They are usually the same thoughts that replay in your mind every day, or familiar thoughts that are trigged in specific scenarios, like, when you think about your finances.
- Pick one self-limiting belief to work on at a time. You need to shoot these guys down one at a time. It’s best to start with an easier one, one you know is definitely false, like, “All the people who have succeeded in life were successful because they had money”, rather than one that has a long history of pain and emotional triggers.
- Ask yourself why you believe this. Reflect upon your life and write down every instance, every experience you had that reinforced this belief. Try to trace this back to the earliest experience from where this belief emerged.
- Gather any evidence that suggests this belief is false. Can you think of any real life examples when a statement like this was not true? Can you think of any examples in your life where this statement about yourself was false? Write down every example that indicates this belief is untrue – in the world for other people, as well as for you.
- Neutralize the self-limiting belief with positive visualization. Chances are, these beliefs have become so entrenched in your psychology that they have become well-established thought patterns, often triggered by a certain type of event. Your practice now is to, whenever you catch yourself thinking this belief, IMMEDIATELY counteract it with a strong image of the opposite. For example, if you believe that the only reason why you are unsuccessful is because you have no money, next time you think this, focus on all the people who rose to fame and fortune, who came from more difficult circumstances than you.
- Rinse, lather and Repeat. Work your way up your list from the easiest to the most difficult self-limiting beliefs.
The NLP Technique to Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs
NLP or Neurolinguistic Programming is an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. NLP asserts that there is a correlation between neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”), and behavioral patterns learned through life experience (“programming”) that can be modified in order to achieve specific goals in life. NLP works with rewiring your belief patterns by changing the way you talk to and think about yourself.
Here’s how you can change self-limiting beliefs using NLP techniques:
- Get into the habit of modifying any negative statement about yourself from present to past. Statements made in the present tense trick the body into believing this statement to be a current reality. Statements made in the past imply that the event has come and gone, creating a transition that opens up new, future possibilites. So, for example, instead of saying, “I am so disorganized” modify this by saying, “I have been so disorganized in the past, but I’m so much more on top of things now.” Even if you don’t feel comfortable modifying the statement, just replacing “am” with “have been” will create a shift in your reality
- Identify a specific outcome you want to achieve. Pick the date in the future you want this outcome to occur by. Utilizing the power of future mental imagery, imagine that this desired outcome has already happend, referencing that future date as having already occurred.
- Make it a daily practice. Every day, or as often as possible, spend some time immersing yourself in this mental imagery. Imagine the details of the future event as it happened in the past in full technicolor. How does your body feel? What are your emotions like? How did people around you react when the event occurred. I suggest dedicating at least 15 minutes to this visualization practice make it feel real.
The Future-Self Technique to Freeing Yourself from Self-Limiting Beliefs
This is a fantastic exercise that I wasn’t able to truly appreciate until I was well past the gauntlet. This powerful exercise tends to resonate most with people who believe in multi-dimensionality, quantum mechanics and the power of the subconscious mind. If these concepts are all new to you, I still highly recommend you try it, because it can be fun and it certainly won’t hurt.
The paradigm works like this. At any given point in time and space, your spirit is present simultaneously in multiple dimensions. Your body is here in the physical dimension – our material selves keep us primarily rooted and operating in this space. However, many different emanations of ourselves exercising different potentialities, both higher and lower, infinitely and simultaneously exist in the space-time continuum. By connecting with and communicating with one of these aspects, you can receive guidance on the best decisions you need to make in order to manifest that desired potentiality.
- Imagine the ideal you of the future, fully embodying your dreams. Imagine this person as you’d like to be. It could be the Millionaire You living in a tropical paradise. It could be the More Compassionate You, embodying a calm and grace that you might be struggling to attain at the present time. Visualize every aspect of this future you, from where you live, to the friends around you, to how much money you might be making, to the challenges you have successfully overcome.
- Give this “Future You” a name. You can work with as many Future You’s as you’d like, but it’s important to be able to distinguish between each one with a name. A powerful extensive of this is to work with Future You’s at different milestones of your life purpose or dream.
- Believe this person is real and truly exists. Gather as much evidence as you can from your personal experience on how it is entirely likely you can be this ideal individual. Find as many examples of others like you, or even more disadvantaged than you, have achieved similar results.
- Establish a daily conversation with “Future You” Ask your future you questions on what the best choices are for you to get to where future you is as quickly as possible. Imagine your future you as a mentor to your present self.
- When you achieve “Future You” status, remember to send love and encouragement to the past you. This part is the key, because it bridges the time space continuum, and further reinforces the effectiveness of this practice.
During the really intense summer of 2012, organizing my estate sale and home sale took over my life for a solid 3 months. I was deeply concerned I’d train wreck and not get out during the narrow window of opportunity I had. Friends and family would come over, look at all the clutter of stuff I had accumulated over the 15 years I lived in the Bay Area, shake their heads and say, “Gee Lorna, I don’t know. You have an awful lot of stuff.”
“Move out by September? There’s no way. Good luck.”
The Future Me I worked with was called “Lifestyle Design Lorna”. She beckoned to me from white sand beaches, mango chili smoothie in hand, with words of encouragement, “I know, it totally sucks to be you right now, but, it’s so worth it. Trust me, it’s amazing on this side – you really have no idea how good it is. You can do it. I’m waiting for you.”
I sold 95% of everything I owned. I was in contract with a new buyer within 2 days of vacating my house. Needless to say, these past few months I’ve been basking in paradise, reveling in the success of finally having made it that future aspect of myself, which is oh so real.
- What techniques do you use to break through your limiting beliefs?
- What limiting beliefs have you successfully overcome?
Please share with me your experiences in the comments below!