Are Limiting Beliefs Guiding Your Life?

What are limiting beliefs? A limiting belief constrains us. By believing it, we do not think, do, or say the things it inhibits. Limiting beliefs are commonly about ourselves, but can also be about others. In my experience, they are the wizard of oz behind the curtain, pulling the strings.

I work with animal symbols to help me understand myself. Most recently, the Raven flew into my life and has been teaching me about rising above some of my own limiting beliefs. As with any symbol, the lessons of the Raven has many layers (hello Shrek!). But the biggest gift Raven has given me so far is in recognizing a limiting, false belief: my judgment and criticism of the types of people who become yoga instructors. I know, you might laugh. This seems so benign. But it was really huge. To hear more about this story, check out Episode 9 of Art Speak. Basically, for decades I held this belief which was based on few if any facts. Yet I clung to it so long that I believed it was true...and I believed it was part of me. I held it so tightly that I never considered what I truly felt or desired.

The moments when we get to see a limiting belief for what it is...a habitual way of thinking that is not us but rather something our minds are choosing to favor, are gifts beyond measure. When we see these things, when we shine the light of our awareness on them, they suddenly lose their power and practically evaporate. And then more of our true self shines through.

Limiting beliefs and our health

This week I had the pleasure of listening to some of Louise Hay’s work. In her book "You Can Heal Your Life" Louise mentions some of the common thought-physical manifestation relationships. For those of you who do now know, when I discovered a chronic Lyme infection, a swollen, frozen joint was the first indicator. These arthritic symptoms have become the most noticeable manifestations in my body, spreading to more joints, and causing me a lot of distress. I was amazed to hear Louise say that the behavior cause of arthritis is criticism!

I sat back in my seat a moment to ponder this. At first, I thought, “oh, I am not that critical!” But actually, criticism permeates my thoughts. And the Raven was the first to point this out to me. You might think criticism is unkind to those being criticized, but I tend to think it does more harm to the one being critical. As this yoga journey has revealed, my judgment and criticism of yoga and yoga teachers stopped me from knowing how I truly felt. It stopped me from following this interest. It confined and restricted my behavior and actions. Plus, those critical thoughts were caustic to my health, contributing to the arthritic conditions in my body.

Dream insight into limiting beliefs

I wanted to know more about my limiting beliefs, so as I lay down that night to fall asleep, I said out loud to the universe (and to Jeff, since he was there, too ;0) that I was ready to see the truth about my limiting beliefs, harmful behaviors, thoughts, and actions. I woke up with dreams where my ego went through crazy contortions not to admit she had made a mistake, always thinking she could fix it herself, and always making it worse. At one point my ego actually thought “It can't get worse, surely I can only make this better." Well, of course, it got worse. She was so afraid of being judged and criticized that she would not ask for help! Another behavior shown to me was my ego's habit of doing something to please someone else even when she felt entirely otherwise.

Looking at these limiting beliefs and the behaviors and thoughts they spawn is not always comfortable. In fact, I woke myself up from that dream because when my ego had made one final, unfixable mistake, the shame and fear I felt was too much. I woke myself up with a familiar, “Thank God it was only a dream!” But, of course, dreams are mirrors, and that dream was showing me how these critical, judgmental beliefs and thoughts have been making me dance around like a marionette. How liberating it will be when I cut those strings at last.

And here is one more insight. I have a feeling all of this judgment and criticism is deeply tied to that elusive sense of self-worth I have been repairing. I am awed, truly, by the complexity of us. We are like rich tapestries, yet in our ego-awareness we see only one or two strands. I get the sense that what we miss is as complex as the bodies we inhabit or the stars in the universe.

If you ready to unwind the threads of your own story, discover the limiting beliefs, judgments, thoughts and ideas that are secretly pulling the strings of your life, then I invite you to join me for 21 Days of Creative Freedom as we Reclaim our Creative Flow. The focus of this 21-day experience is releasing patterns, detaching from limiting beliefs (cut those strings!), and clearing the way for who we truly are to shine through. You can learn more here.

Yours in creative, soulful living.


Listen to Louise Hay’s book YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE.