I’ve been working with my coach lately on limiting beliefs I have about myself that keep me from moving forward. I believe some pretty negative and limiting things about myself, and my beliefs are so strong that I sometimes think they are true. I imagine that’s true for everyone else, too.

Most of us have been told that we aren’t good at a certain task at some point in our lives. Maybe we were just learning, or maybe we had no real interest in that task at that time, so we didn’t try very hard, or maybe it was not the thing for us. The problem comes in when we take those messages to heart. We hear them more than once or we notice a pattern that may not even be there, and we create a belief system around them. We tell ourselves and everyone else that we just aren’t good at baseball or having meaningful relationships or doing math. And, if we repeat this often enough, we start to believe it is true. We find more examples that support our beliefs, and soon they become facts.

We make decisions based on these beliefs about how we will live our lives and who we will associate with and what this means for our futures. We avoid situations that make us uncomfortable and remind us of what we don’t do well (or don’t think we do well), and this feeds the belief. It’s a vicious cycle.

What I’m discovering is that many of the beliefs we have about ourselves were given to us by people who were insecure about themselves and they had an agenda. They wanted us to feel badly because that’s how they were feeling about themselves, or they teased us because it was the only way they knew of relating to us, or maybe they just made a remark and didn’t know how much it would affect us. I’m also discovering that many of the things I’ve believed about myself for so long aren’t even true!

For example, my family has stories about me as a child being very clumsy and walking into walls. It was true, I did all those things. But then when I was 10 someone noticed I needed glasses, mostly because I have a problem with depth perception. But all of my life, I’ve continued to believe I was clumsy and could not do things that required physical coordination. None of that is true, but it took me a while to connect the dots and to know where my real limitations are instead of the ones I have imposed on myself. I’ll never be a ballet dancer, but I’m pretty good at yoga, and I rarely walk into walls unless I’m simply not paying attention.

Think about the ideas you have about yourself. Where do they come from? Are they true anymore? What do you gain and lose by believing them? What does someone else gain or lose by your beliefs? Do they fit your life as it is today or are they worn out and no longer useful to you? What would you like to believe instead?

This is your life, your journey, and you’re the only one who gets to decide how you live it because you’re the only one who will have to answer for yourself when you look back on it. Changing the beliefs you have that limit you is a great way use your coach or another professional. They don’t have an agenda, and they don’t believe what you believe about yourself. It will be a lifelong journey, and it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!