Can you imagine a life without freedom? It is difficult for those in a reasonably free country like America to do so, but are you truly free? True freedom goes beyond countries and governments, coming from within. Why do we allow others and other things to steal our freedom? We can stop these thieves with a little knowledge. Let's look at what you can do to create more freedom in your life.
Where do you start?
There is a simple solution to gaining and taking back the freedom you deserve. The more you understand what makes you do what you do, the more control you gain over your freedom.
What mainly robs or steals your freedom are certain beliefs you own that also own you. These are called self-limiting beliefs. They are also known, more descriptively, as self-defeating beliefs or self-imposed limitations.
"All too often we're filled with negative and limiting beliefs. We're filled with doubt. We're filled with guilt or with a sense of unworthiness. We have a lot of assumptions about the way the world is that are actually wrong." Jack Canfield (1944-present)
What exactly is a self-limiting belief? For our purposes, it is an assumption, a doubt, or a perception that keeps you from achieving something you are capable of doing. In other words, it is a limit you place on yourself, which you can develop the ability to overcome if you desire. This is where coming to know yourself becomes essential.
Everyone has more than one self-limiting belief in their life. If you believe you have no such beliefs, you must be perfect! At least in your own mind, you are. You may as well stop reading, as this article is for the rest of us who live in the land of reality!
Before you can begin working on one of your self-limiting beliefs, you must see or uncover it. Once you uncover it, you can give it some real thought to understand it, examine as many perspectives as possible, and even enlist others to help. Once you have done this, you can undertake actions on the decisions and choices that support what you truly desire. This will change the outcome you receive in the future and can put your life on a completely new trajectory!
Remember, self-limiting beliefs come from inside your mind. They steal your ability to achieve, creating a mental prison from which you must escape. They are likely a part of you that is fearful and trying to protect you somehow.
"You can't escape from a prison until you recognize you are in one. People who have chosen to live within the limits of their old beliefs continue to have the same experiences. It takes effort and commitment to break old patterns." Bob Proctor (1934-2022)
For me, one such self-limiting belief I overcame was the fear of public speaking. It began when I was just a child. I tripped and almost fell onstage during a school play in the second grade. It was bad enough that I was already uncomfortable being in front of so many people.
As I recall the incident, I remember how embarrassed I was. I can still experience the feeling of how all those people in the audience, including my own family, thought I was a clumsy loser.
Could a voice from when I was seven still influence me into my twenties like that? You bet. Yet that voice was only trying to keep me from further embarrassment. It used fear to protect me from ever feeling like a klutz again.
"If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you." Louise Hay (1926-2017)
As I advanced in my career, I was often put on the spot to speak. Eventually, I attended a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking and started to read more about the subject to help overcome my fear. After some time, I could control this false belief that had bound me. Once I learned to speak in front of groups with authority, I gained tremendous freedom and made great strides in my career.
Did I entirely overcome this self-limiting belief? Nope. There is still a tiny remnant that will pop up at times. Yet I see it differently now. When I get a little nervous as I prepare to speak to an audience, that seven-year-old part still wants to protect me from looking like a fool, from failing. But I now know myself well enough that I am sure I can do it. I have done it and have been successful at it many times.
These more mature thoughts tell me I will do a great job. I believe it, and it happens. It is so freeing to have a better grasp of reality. Even if I make a mistake, I know others want me to succeed and not fail. I'm encouraged no matter what happens and can even laugh at myself.
Another real-life incident happened when I was around thirty years old and had taken a job that conflicted with several of my personal values and beliefs. The job paid well, but the stress I was under felt unbearable. I stayed far too long because of doubts about myself and my abilities. The internal conflict was just too great. After a year and a half, out of desperation, I resigned.
There I was with my small family, jobless, a thousand miles from my home state. I started looking for more work, and for a week, nothing appeared.
My self-imposed limitation kept me on that job far too long - worrying about the uncertainty of being able to find another job. The underlying fear was not being able to take care of my family. I was a responsible person, after all.
I failed to notice what the pressures were doing to my relationship with my wife. I completely missed that she fully favored me leaving the position. She had more faith than I did that we would be okay.
Fear is a harsh taskmaster!
I had failed to realize I did a great job for the company and was very capable. I didn't know there were plenty of other opportunities out there. Fear and concern had paralyzed me so badly that I could not clearly see myself or my situation.
After that first week of unemployment, a different part of me woke up. I realized I had risen through the ranks because others believed I had strong skills and capabilities. I shifted my thinking to believe I could do what I set my mind to do. I had already proven that in my life.
Within the following week, I had a job that improved my future, paid better, and presented me with greater growth opportunities! What freedom I gained once I overcame this self-limiting belief that made me fear not finding gainful employment! By overcoming this limiting belief, I received huge dividends during my career. I never worried about changing jobs again!
"Freedom cannot be bestowed — it must be achieved." Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)
Think about a possible self-limiting belief that has held you captive, stealing your freedom. Explore this subject with your spouse or someone close to you. Find one self-limiting belief that is keeping you from something you want. You will experience wonderful freedom from being bound by it when you overcome it.
"We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience." Louise Hay (1926-2017)
To get you started, here are a few areas you can explore. Ask yourself, "What self-limiting belief do I have about my ___________"
- relationship with ________
- eating habits
- workout habits
I'm sure you can think of a few other areas to explore.
Go to work to uncover the origin of the self-limiting belief. You can ask yourself questions such as:
- What (or who) in my past created this belief?
- Where did this belief originate?
- Why do I have this belief?
If none of these help you unearth the root of the belief, keep seeking an answer by coming up with your own questions. The effectiveness of such an exercise is always much greater if you can do it with someone you trust.
If you really want as much freedom in life as possible, it is well worth searching for and exposing what lies beneath your self-limiting beliefs. You will increase your freedom and accomplish more in life once you expose them. Why not give it a try? You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Imagine the freedom you can obtain by getting rid of even one self-limiting belief. Your life will become far more enjoyable, and you will enjoy greater success!
"There is one grand lie - that we are limited. The only limits we have are the limits we believe." Wayne Dyer (1940-2015)