Beliefs – we all have them. Did you ever ask yourself where your beliefs came from? More often than not their origin goes back a long time, some shaped by our parents and upbringing, others shaped by certain successes or failures we have experienced in the past.
Based on these experiences, our brains develop a pattern of seeing the world in a certain way. Quite often our beliefs can be helpful – for example, if you believe that hard work is always rewarded, more than likely you are a very committed, loyal, and hardworking person.
Beliefs can move us forward, AND hold us back
So how can a belief become something that holds us back? Simply put, when our brain takes a “shortcut” by following a well entrenched pattern of thinking, we are by default overlooking other possibilities. When this happens, our course of action is limited, and likely to lead to a result that confirms our original belief. Worse yet, we can get stuck in a cycle of “inaction” because our belief tells us “it’s not worth the effort” and prevents us from pursuing an alternative direction.
Let’s take Jane, a female executive who (despite her success) holds a strong belief that “women just don’t have the same opportunities as men in this company”. True, or not true? In many industries and companies, a belief like this one is easily reinforced with real-life data or examples. As an executive coach, I often come across clients who will want to validate or rationalize a particular belief as “true” or “not true”.
I encourage my clients to take a deeper look. What’s really important is this:
How does your belief (and related patterns of thinking) impact your own conduct, behaviors, and actions?
In Jane’s case, if she “holds back”, or allows her conduct and actions to be impacted by fear and frustration, then her belief is limiting her from achieving her true potential.
Some questions you can ask yourself if you have a belief that might be holding you back …
Where did this belief come from?
How true is this belief, really?
Why does this belief have to be true for me?
How is this belief serving me in achieving my goals?
If I were to let go of this belief, what would I do differently?
For an excellent additional reference on limiting beliefs, check out the following article: Trapped by your Mind? Learn this Five Step Process for Releasing Limiting Beliefs.
If you are looking to advance your career, and ready to work with an executive coach to help you navigate your next steps, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s have a conversation about what sets you apart?