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Dismantling Limiting Beliefs

Written by: Hannah Brents, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


You walk down the street you live on and see a puppy tied to the wooden fence by a rope. As the puppy pulls and tugs at the rope, but it fails to break free. Day after day, you see the small puppy tug and pull a little less, until eventually, it gives up and makes peace with its fate. The small puppy is bound by this rope for life.

Months go by, and you've noticed that the small puppy is no longer small anymore. The puppy is now a large adult dog with muscle, strong teeth, and the power to easily break free of the tattered and weak rope if it wanted to. But, believing the rope to be some unbreakable thing, the large adult dog remains tied to it, falsely believing it can never escape from its hold. This is called limiting beliefs.

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are a state of mind that restricts you from pursuing your goals and desires. These are often false accusations created by you, about you, that cause negative thoughts and reactions that impact your day-to-day life. These feelings may be a direct result of a traumatic event or experience, a stressful situation, or a personal journey to try and find your voice. Often with any trauma, our feelings of safety and security drastically change, impacting how we see and think about everything.

Society and social media have had a significant impact on how we perceive ourselves. It causes beliefs that if we aren't constantly posting, liking, and sharing, we simply don't care. This type of societal pressure is a direct correlation to developing limiting beliefs. It makes us feel like we aren't doing enough, or we aren't doing activism the 'right' way. It makes us question why we even bother to get involved.

A common concern in the age of social media is authenticity. Specifically, authenticity versus how others perceive us to be. It's so important to understand that activism looks different for everyone. You may not be comfortable posting your opinions on social media or engaging in a heated debate about protests, and that's ok. Not all activism looks the same.

If you only focus on being the loud activist and ignoring your inner thoughts on doing what is comfortable, you may begin to feel embarrassed. You start hyperactive thinking about how others are perceiving your involvement. Is it enough? Is it valid? Is it wanted? These limiting beliefs are impacting how you participate in something you care about. They create a gap between your authentic self and what society

wants us to be.

How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

It's hard enough to spot your limiting beliefs, and it's even harder to overcome them. But it can be done by completing the ABC Worksheet below to help overcome your limiting beliefs.

What is the ABC Worksheet on Limiting Beliefs?

As you read this, you may wonder, 'How do I get to a place of ignoring these limiting beliefs? How do I get to a place where I can understand there isn't just one 'right' way of doing things? How can I learn from these beliefs and restrict that type of thinking?' The ABC Worksheet is a tool that will help you work through these thoughts and bring you back to a place of feeling authentic and passionate. It consists of three boxes; Activating Event, Thoughts and Beliefs, and Emotion.

1. Activating Event

The first box is used to capture the Activating Event. This can be scrolling through social media and realizing you didn't attend any of the protests scheduled in your area, or you didn't post in solidarity with the cause for everyone to see. The activating event is something that triggers your limiting beliefs. Typically it's the point when you begin to compare yourself to others. Note what event is activating you to feel like you are not doing enough or are not doing things the 'right' way.

2. Thoughts and Beliefs

The second box is for Thoughts and Beliefs. It is important to capture the most concise, boiled-down version of why we think or believe the way we do in this box. Ask yourself, why is this triggering me to think this way? From there, write down what those triggers are to be clear on what is causing those limiting beliefs.

3. Emotions

The third and last box is to capture your Emotions. Try to use one word to describe how the situation makes you feel (i.e., excited, fragile, scared etc.). This will help you identify what your limiting beliefs are bringing up for you and why you feel that way. Most of the time, people do not like how they feel about those triggers and identifying them allows them to acknowledge them for what they are doing: preventing you from reaching your goals.

The first time you do this exercise, it is normal to feel embarrassed that your answers aren't good enough, or it may cause you to feel confused, realizing how you feel once you break it all down. When we focus so much on what we think is the 'right' way of doing something, we lose our initial intentions, we doubt ourselves, and subsequently create limiting beliefs that restrict us from being involved authentically.

Conquering Limiting Beliefs

To conquer these beliefs, it's imperative to bridge the gap between your authentic self and the self that is expected of you based on social standards. Drop the comparison habits and ask yourself, 'Is this limiting belief realistic? Is it helpful?'. For example, not attending a protest due to the large crowds because of Covid is realistic, but it's not realistic to think because you are not showing up in that way you are not an activist. Don't let yourself miss out on participating. Instead, participate in ways that make you feel comfortable, and that make you feel closer to yourself and closer to your most authentic self.

When we look for ways to get involved that are authentic to us, we begin to feel excited, helpful and like what we are doing matters. When we get involved inauthentically, we may feel paralyzed, frozen or embarrassed. That is the power of breaking down our thoughts. By remaining authentic to ourselves, we minimize the space for limiting beliefs.

Next time you are battling with limiting beliefs, follow the ABC Worksheet to identify what they are, how they make you feel, and how to conquer them.

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Hannah Brents, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Hannah Brents is a LICSW with a virtual therapy practice in Massachusetts. Many of Hannah’s adult clients come to her to address anxiety, trauma, life transitions, existential questioning, and relational difficulties. As Theology Therapist, Hannah serves as a resource for anyone looking to connect ‒ to yourselves, to others, to the divine and the natural world). She holds an extensive background in Theological Studies, allowing her to combine meditation, yoga, and clinical expertise to encourage deeper connectedness of the whole person as a means of healing and coping with suffering.



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