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TOTD: Limiting Beliefs

Full disclosure: I googled 'TOTD' before I wrote it in my headline just to be sure it didn't mean something foul or offensive. Technically, according to the sage "Internet Slang" website, it means Tip Of The Day or Tweet Of The Day. For me, and in this space, it means Thought Of The Day.

Almost everyday, I hear a quote or read a passage that hits me right in the feels. You know the type, the ones that give you goosebumps and you feel like you stumbled upon a universal life truth. I'm REALLY into podcasts right now (I shared my current four fave podcasts HERE) and devour them so quickly I'm testing new ones to add to my library. An Instagram friend DM'd me to listen to Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The first episode to catch my eye was Episode 171: Question Your Limiting Beliefs.

This one stood out to me for so many reasons. I am, generally, a positive person but I'm not immune to the fearful, negative, limiting self-talk we all engage in even though we know it's toxic. I was prepared for Gretchen to discuss the big ways in which we limit ourselves -- like being afraid to take the next step in a career or relationship -- and in the ways in which we don't limit ourselves enough, like setting boundaries. Well, she did...kind of. But mostly, she made me realize how many ways, big AND small, that I limit myself every day, and how it all impacts my life on the daily level and in the long term.

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are anything that starts with something like "I can't," "I won't," "I don't like," "I'm afraid," "I would, but...." It could even be something as bland as "I can't eat sushi" even though you've never tried it before, as is Gretchen's example. Once Gretchen explained what it meant and how pervasive they are, I was stunned at how many limiting beliefs shape my thoughts and behaviors on a constant basis! For example:

Some of my limiting beliefs, large and small, go like this:

  • "I can't make a salad as good as the ones I get in restaurants so I can't make them at home."

  • "I can't workout today because schedules are too tight and I should always choose to spend time with Harlow over all else."

  • "I've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but lessons are expensive and I wouldn't know where to begin and I might suck."

  • "I can't pitch myself to brands because I'm afraid they'll say 'no' and I'm terrified of rejection."

  • "I can't say this or post this on the Internet because it's not good enough."

  • "I'll never have the body confidence I once had because I'll never be able to workout as much as I need to get it back. And I'm so out of shape what's the point in trying to start?"

  • "I want to be better friends with this person but I'm afraid to text them because what if they actually don't really like me?"

  • "I don't like food prepping because it takes too much time and I like to decide what I want to eat depending on my mood."

I mean some are kinda funny and relatable -- does anyone really like the salads they make as much as one from a restaurant??

How They Impact My Growth

But there are some biggies in there, the type that would make my life coach go "mmmmm, yep, there it is." The whole fear of rejection thing??? It's like crippling for me, so much so that I would often rather not try than be told I'm not good enough. See, that's what I take from a 'no.' That I'm not worthy enough. If I was, or if someone believed in my value, they'd say 'yes.' Consequently, I don't push myself sometimes so that I don't have to feel that intense shame. Yet, this limiting belief is probably (*ahem* likely) limiting my growth. I'm probably preventing myself from achieving a major life goal because I'm a scaredy cat.

What if this particular limiting belief is even more layered, like a really complex onion? Let's dive deeper. So I'm fearful of rejection because I get hurt when I hear 'no.' Am I limiting myself further by being so sure I already know how I'll feel when I get the rejection? What if someone doesn't just say 'no' but they say 'no, but here's why and if you do x, y, z then maybe it's a yes'? Or what if they say 'no' and I'm like "you know what, it probably wasn't a good fit/time anyway."


Let's be real: my fear of rejection and that list of limiting beliefs didn't just evaporate because I listened to this podcast. But it's given me pause to actually think more about what I think I can and can't do. I've been doubtful, worried, and fearful many times in my life, but funny enough, nine times out of ten the scary scenarios I dreamed up in my head didn't come true. Not even close. Things actually usually turn out way better than you hope!

Knowing how to recognize the red flag of a limiting belief is the first step towards pushing through them. Then you have to do the thing! Over the last week or so I've been working on my list. I've texted new friends and gotten good responses! ("See Brooke?" I say to myself.) I've signed up for email courses on the right way to pitch brands. (Work in progress, but baby steps.) And I'm finding ways to make time to workout and be active every day. Whether pushing Harlow in the stroller up some hills or taking a class at Club Pilates, I'm determined to prove to myself that I can workout and it will pay off!

One day I'll work on the homemade salad thing. That's gonna be some tough sledding.

Lastly, this: life is not a dress rehearsal. Those dreams, that bucket list, they can't come true or happen without you taking steps in the right direction. Big things can happen by taking small steps.

As small as one letter, turning your 'can't' to 'can'.


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