“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer.

Self-limiting thoughts can define the limits of your “field of vision” and thus, your world. Would you, therefore, not want to be able to nip any such thoughts in the bud?

In this post, I give you tried-and-proven techniques to achieve that feat.

The problem with self-limiting thoughts is that they sneak up on you, taking advantage of what I defined as “learned helplessness” in my book, Intelligent Leadership. How many times did you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts such as:

  • That’s it. The game is up. This far exceeds my abilities.
  • That was the last straw. I cannot handle this.
  • It is always going to be this bad.
  • I failed and failed and failed. Maybe I am not cut out for this.
  • Maybe giving up is the right thing to do sometimes.

To defeat such thinking, you need positive thoughts predicated upon a reservoir of positively charged references. If you happen to lack such a reservoir of your own, search for positively charged references within someone else’s reservoir of experiences. Defeating your self-limiting thoughts with the help of someone else’s experiences is a three-step exercise.

  • Seek out the right mentor/inspiration.
  • Identify with the experiences of your mentor.
  • Vicariously experience these positive references.

Do not underestimate the power of self-limiting thoughts and do not attempt to handle them superficially. Simply telling yourself “I am good enough”, “I will handle this” is insufficient without the backing of a potent reservoir of positively-charged references.

Negative thoughts and misfortune have uncanny ways of invading your psyche and making it their home, according to science.

How to Overcome Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

Once you understand the vulnerabilities of your self-limiting beliefs, you are ready to exploit them.

  • Recognize your self-limiting beliefs and acknowledge them.
  • Once identified, work your way down to the core reasons behind these beliefs.
  • Realize that your self-limiting beliefs are not true. They may even be irrational.
  • Draw on your reservoir of positive experiences to counter them with empowering beliefs.
  • Use this reservoir to back your empowering beliefs with evidence.

Recognizing Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

It takes some emotional intelligence to recognize your self-limiting thoughts for what they are. When you find yourself thinking “it is always going to be this bad”, stop. You have just caught a saboteur. Try to contemplate this thought from a neutral perspective. Does it still seem logical?

Identifying the Core Reasons behind Your Self-limiting Beliefs

Just as you have a reservoir of positively-charged experiences to help lift you, you likely also have negatively-charged experiences that can drag you down. This is where your self-limiting thoughts originate.

Dispelling the Validity of Your Self-limiting Beliefs

Challenge the logic and reason behind these thoughts. It many cases, your negative beliefs may not even make sense when you really think them through.

Countering Negative Thoughts with Empowering Ones

Supplant your negative beliefs with positive ones, through a “what if” exercise. What if things are not always going to be this bad? There is no logical reason why they should be.

Yes, you can! 

Tapping your Reservoir for Evidence

“I’ve been in worse spots before.” “I have handled worse.” Surely this current setback will not faze you then. You have the recipe to begin handling it. This predicament, like those before it, is nothing more than another learning opportunity in the context of intelligent leadership.


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