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Overcome 8 Common Limiting Beliefs That May Keep You Stuck

Im Free

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

For almost three years, I’d been living out of a suitcase, relocating every three to six months. To some people, this lifestyle sounds adventurous and exciting. But anyone who’s ever lived like this understands how exhausting and scary it can be: I felt unsettled in my career, unhappy in my relationships, and completely alone in the world.

While I knew I was unhappy and that I wanted to make a change, the truth is that I felt completely stuck in the lifestyle I’d chosen for myself. When I brainstormed about what was preventing me from taking action, this is the list I came up with:

  • I lack motivation.
  • I procrastinate too much.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I don’t have enough resources.
  • It’s too late to change.
  • I have too many responsibilities.
  • I have no clue who I am.
  • I have no clue where to start.

It was then that I realized the only thing preventing me from making a change was a long list of limiting beliefs.

So let’s explore how these 8 limiting beliefs keep you (and me!) stuck:

1. “I lack motivation.”

Do you really, or are you burned out? This type of burnout usually indicates that you are in an environment that leaves you feeling drained and unsupported. When this happens, you may even start to call yourself “lazy.”

In my case, it took so much energy to get through the day and to figure out where I was going next that the thought of making changes was exhausting.

Examine your external environment: What situations and people are draining you? Do you feel supported? Do you really lack motivation, or are you just burned out?

2. “I procrastinate too much.”

Procrastination is a symptom, much like a fever, stomachache, or headache, and it usually boils down to one thing: fear.

For me, it was the fear of stepping away from the freedom I thought I had in a lifestyle with minimal attachments. It was also the fear of failing, of not having all the answers, and of making the wrong decision.

What is your procrastination a symptom of? What are you afraid of?

3. “I don’t have time.”

A quote by Lao Tzu says, “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’” Perhaps the real issue is that you don’t really want to change.

There was certainly a part of me that didn’t want to change; there is something very freeing about having so little stuff. I also liked traveling and seeing the world. But once I clarified what I did and didn’t like about my situation, I was clearer about why I’d actually take the time to make changes.

What parts of your current situation do you like, and how are they affecting your desire to move forward?

4. “I don’t have enough resources.”

Focusing on external resources, like money, credentials, and skills, is another tactic we use to give ourselves permission to remain stuck. But lasting change starts internally, with things like energy, willpower, clarity, and passion; and as your internal resources start to grow, your external resources will naturally start to grow as well.

At the time, all of my internal resources were completely depleted, and as a result, I wasn’t using my external resources effectively or efficiently. As I watched my external resources slowly drain, I became more internally drained. So it became a vicious cycle.

What in your external environment leaves your internal environment feeling uninspired, unsupported, and lifeless? Are you using your external resources effectively?

5. “It’s too late to change.”

Focusing on some arbitrary time and date by which you’re supposed to have accomplished X, Y, and Z means neglecting to enjoy the amazing journey unfolding right in front of your eyes. After all, who created this timeline by which you’re supposed to live your life anyway?

In my situation, seeing friends getting married, having children, and buying homes left me feeling more and more trapped by my current situation. Eventually I realized that the real frustration was that I was spinning my wheels in directions that didn’t even make sense. I didn’t want what my friends had, but I didn’t want what I had either, so I felt like I was just wasting time.

Do you hold yourself to an arbitrary timeline by which you’re supposed to have accomplished X, Y, and Z? Do you compare yourself to others? What do you really want to change in your life, and what baby steps can you take in that direction?

6. “I have too many responsibilities.”

If you feel like you have so many responsibilities that you can’t manage to carve out time to start changing your life, then chances are your “responsibilities” have become an excuse for not taking care of yourself.

At the time, I was taking on way too much emotional responsibility for the people around me, and it was leaving me feeling empty and lost. I was neglecting my own needs, and I was neglecting to take responsibility for my own life.

Who and what are consuming your time and energy? Are these people and situations really your responsibility? How can you start to take responsibility for your own life?

7. “I have no clue who I am.”

If you feel like you don’t know who you are, then chances are you’ve been neglecting yourself for a very long time.

When I finally stopped long enough to ask myself why I felt stuck, I quickly realized I’d never taken the time to really figure out who I am or what I wanted in life; instead, I was just bouncing from thing to thing, hoping something would stick.

What do you want in life? Where do you want to see yourself in 6 months? A year? What are your values and goals? 

8. “I have no clue where to start.”

Depending on how you chose to look at it, not knowing where to start can either be liberating or completely overwhelming. But it’s usually just an excuse. If there is no clear place to start, then there is no wrong place to start!

I developed a daily practice and started spending time alone each day exploring and rediscovering who I am. I tried new things until I uncovered what I wanted, and from this awareness I created an action plan for change.

Start somewhere—anywhere. Will you commit to spending time alone, each and every day, to explore these limiting beliefs? Because when it comes to making changes in your life, all you need to do is “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Photo by Francis Ritualo

Avatar of Victoria Gigante

About Victoria Gigante

Victoria Gigante is a life coach who helps people develop the tools to live empowering lives. She has a free e-course, 21 Days to a Daily Practice, on her website and a podcast called Empower Yourself. Follow Victoria on Twitter @VictoriaGigante and on Pinterest, and communicate with her directly on Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • nategismot

    This was an extremely helpful — and well-timed — article. Thank you!

  • Esther Litchfield-Fink

    Great helpful steps to take…thank you! I love starting with meditation so I can listen instead of just doing doing doing. : )

  • http://www.mimaonfire.com/ Michelle

    Totally feeling this article! I recently lost my job and am stuck on number one of your list! And you are right – I’m definitely burned out after years of working, non-stop plus writing on the side. I also relate to the ‘it’s too late for me’ step. I always felt like I wasn’t falling under the magical timeline of my life – got my license late, not married and no kids, still don’t have most of my life together in the way I think I should by now etc – so I always feel like I’m messing up my own life. So many great points in this article, I plan to save it and reread as I move forward in my current journey. Thank you!

  • http://twocupsofhappy.blogspot.com/ Janelle D

    I’m procrastinating starting an online creative shop because of fear. Straight up! I’m working on tackling that though. By creating more often, I have been producing more things I would consider worthy of selling and I think I have a brand almost nailed down. Thanks for posting!

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome! I’m so happy to hear you found value in this article. Thank you for sharing. – Victoria

  • Victoria Gigante

    Totally! Meditation is an awesome way to tap into your inner voice. When we’re constantly on the go, it’s easy to get caught up in the “doing” and lose track of our why! Thank you for sharing. I’m happy to hear you found value in this article.
    -Victoria

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome Janelle! Yes – keep creating. Abandon the need for everything to be perfect, and just keep going for it. It sounds like you’ve got some exciting things on the horizon :) – Victoria

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome Michelle. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found value in this article. Remember: There are no “should’s.” Own your unique journey! Hey, and think about it this way: By NOT being on the “normal” timeline, you’re stepping outside of the box and creating your own path. I think this makes you pretty awesome. Seriously: Own it. You’re doing great! -Victoria

  • Kleineken

    Just finished reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Anger”. Very Insightful, I have realized some of what is holding me back is suffering of past events. I am taking steps to relieve my suffering, but this may also be something that could apply to your list, or it may fall under not knowing who I am. Great list, I appreciate you.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Thank you for sharing. I am happy to hear that you found value in this list. Yes, getting caught in the cycle of anger/regret/shame/frustration/sadness over past events can be completely paralyzing. I’m happy to hear that you are taking steps to relieve your suffering. I encourage you to take the time to explore the emotions you are feeling; the key is to allow yourself to feel them fully, to forgive yourself, and then to allow yourself to let those emotions go. Don’t resist – fully embrace how you feel right now. I hope this helps. – Victoria

  • BridgetSoup

    This was a nice read. I feel like it can be true, in one way or another, for all of us. Going to look at your daily practice now! Thanks! :)

  • alex

    Gigantic article. Let’s see what reality will reply to my lost and re-discovered self.

  • Victoria Gigante

    Awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this article. Yes – check out the daily practice course! -Victoria

  • Victoria Gigante

    Thank you Alex! -Victoria

  • Mark

    This a tremendously helpful and timely article for me. I am at a point in my life where I have been doing the same job for 24 years, and there is currently no chance of advancement. I want to change careers, but I question if the skills I have are relevant, and I have not interviewed for a new job in years. I have encountered all 8 limiting beliefs but I wasn’t aware what was wrong. This article clarified what I have to do. Thanks.

  • Ari Jean

    This is my life in 8 negative beliefs! Wow thank you so much for this. I really need to spend this time alone and figure out where to go. I am 28 years old and all in the past year I have lived in Cleveland, Atlanta and Chicago. I don’t know who I am and I feel lost and discouraged by non other than those negative thoughts in my head. I thank you so much for this post. I am going to get to work today!

  • Tara

    I have found my self saying all of these things for many different reasons in my life. Living out of a suitcase, or in my case, out of a storage unite and a temporary turned long term cluttered home can be hard on your soul. I love to travel but I do get the feeling of my life being on hold or unsettled after a while. At the same time it’s so important to step away from your normal sometimes. Waiting to unpack has been my hearts longing for the past 3 years of transitional living. Even when you know there is greater meaning to why you do things sometimes our choices wear us down. It’s difficult to be nearing 30 and see all your age group rushing to the wedding, baby, house finish line. To each their own. Im realizing that my life fits me best and sometimes it takes feeling very uncomfortable to realize its time to change something.

  • Danielle

    I’m procrastinating right now by reading this article. Matter of a fact I found this article by doing a google search on procrastination and limiting beliefs because I can’t seem to understand why I’m procrastinating eliminating my limiting beliefs. I don’t know why I’m procrastinating