21 Limiting Beliefs Examples That Hold You Back in Life

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I really wanted to enter our local pie bake off competition because everyone always drools over my cherry pie. But, at the last minute, I decided not to enter. 

I won’t win in any case, so what’s the point?

Similar thoughts kept running through my mind, preventing me from taking a chance. Has this happened to you? Have you bypassed an opportunity because you thought you couldn’t or shouldn’t do it?

It’s thoughts like these hold you back in life… and it’s time to put an end to it! So, today, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about limiting beliefs – from what they are and limiting beliefs examples to help you overcome them

What are Limiting Beliefs? 

A limiting belief is a thought, opinion, state of mind, or conviction you believe to be absolutely true, but that belief holds you back in some way. In essence, a limiting belief is a story you tell yourself to keep you in your comfort zone, and it prevents you from becoming who you are meant to be. 

The limiting beliefs you have about yourself, the world, or life are often subconscious. They can also be defense mechanisms, psychological coping strategies your mind subconsciously uses to protect you from stress and dealing with difficult feelings. (It’s scary to think you CAN do it.) 

These beliefs have a negative impact on your life, because limiting beliefs stop or prevent you from: 

  • Reaching your full potential  
  • Growing personally and/or professionally  
  • Taking risks 
  • Going after new opportunities 
  • Achieving your goals 
  • Moving forward 
  • Making good choices 

Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From? 

There are various causes of limiting beliefs

  • Your inherent biases 
  • An inability to have an open mind 
  • Your family beliefs  
  • Your education – what you learn at school and college, and what you learn from family, friends, colleagues, mentors, etc. 
  • Your experiences, especially those that ended negatively 

Most of your limiting beliefs originate in your childhood, and they become an essential part of your identity

You think your limiting beliefs keep you safe, that if you don’t put yourself out there and try, you don’t have to worry about facing humiliation or rejection. The reality is that by believing these beliefs that limit you, you never try or grow.   

21 Limiting Beliefs Examples That Hold You Back  

Now that you know what limiting beliefs are and where they come from, what do they look like in action? Here are 21 limiting beliefs examples:  

#1. I can’t 

Do you regularly tell yourself you can’t do something? 

This is one of the limiting beliefs examples that holds you back because you don’t realize you have a choice

If there is something you don’t yet have the ability to do, you have the choice to learn. If it’s something you don’t want to do for someone (maybe because it’s an inconvenient time), it’s something you are unable to do at that particular time

You CAN do anything, if you believe. 

#2. I don’t have time 

Sure, you may not have time. We all lead busy lives where we rush from one thing to the next.  

If you believe you don’t have time for something or someone, you won’t ever have (or make) time to go after what you want. And believing you don’t have time keeps you stuck in one place. 

Time is real, but how you perceive the time you have is a social construct. When you accurately keep track of how you spend your time, you’ll realize how much time is wasted on activities that don't add value or meaning to your life. 

Eliminating that which doesn’t make your soul happy reveals how much time you do have to get everything that matters to you, so you can go for what you want like that promotion at work.    

#3. I can’t because… 

When you add a reason to the “I can’t,” you give your limiting belief even more power. This is especially true when the reason starts with “I am.”   

Words like “I am” are directly related to who you are. For example, I used to tell myself “I can’t work in events because I’m not extroverted.” 

limiting beliefs list pdf | examples of limiting beliefs in business | limiting beliefs exercise
A limiting belief is a thought, opinion, state of mind, or conviction you believe to be absolutely true, but that belief holds you back in some way.

But I promised to help out a friend who was an events organizer, and boom! I became an assistant events manager and realized I didn’t need to be extroverted to do the job successfully. After all, most of us are ambiverts: we are more introverted in some situations and more extroverted in others.  

If it wasn’t for a promise to a friend, I’d never have known how false my limiting belief was and how much it was holding me back.   

#4. I need to change… before I can…  

You won’t be successful if you believe you need to change or fix something (as a condition for progress) or that you aren’t ready for something. 

Instead, go after what you do want, and in the process, work on what you want to change. You shouldn’t put your life, relationship, or career on hold until you lose weight, heal, or learn 200 skills. 

When you realize that this limiting belief is holding you back from achieving your goals and going after your dreams, continue forward and take action.    

#5. I’m not good enough 

At some point in your life, you were criticized or compared to someone who was better at something than you, so you believe you are not good enough

This limiting belief can be restricted to one or two things in your life where you believe you aren’t skilled or talented enough. Or it can be all-encompassing, where, in general and in almost all aspects of your life, you don’t feel good enough. 

Believing you aren’t good enough manifests as perfectionism, anxiety, and procrastination. But by becoming more self-aware, you learn you are good enough until you believe it.   

#6. I can do it myself 

The second part of this belief is usually “I don’t need help.” 

Do you see asking for help as a weakness? Or that you aren’t good enough or worthy if you can’t do something by yourself? Or do you feel too guilty or ashamed to ask? 

Honestly, we all need help. And while you are valiant in wanting to work hard and trying your hardest to achieve your goals, asking for help when you need it is a good thing

Do you look down on others when they ask for help? No, right? 

So, you should learn to feel comfortable asking and accepting help.   

#7. Everyone knows their purpose in life

Yeah, right (as I choke on my coffee). And if only.

The majority of people do not have their lives figured out, nor do they know what their purpose in life is. But I get why you may think that people have it figured out (and you don’t).   

When you scroll through your social media feeds, you see people who are smiling and carefree and just living their best life. And it’s so easy to compare your very non-perfect life to their seemingly perfect lives

But those posts are created to project perfection. And that’s all it is. A projection. Not truth. 

So, focus on you. Be authentic. And look inward as you let go of comparing and thinking everyone has it figured out. 

#8. I don’t know…

It could be “I don’t know what I need” or “I don’t know what I want.” 

We always seem a lot surer when we talk about what we DON’T want in our life, but when it comes to expressing what we DO want, we fumble over our words. 

When you complain about what isn’t working in your life, it gives you an excuse to not take action or responsibility (and be a victim). 

And you probably do know what you want – deep, deep down inside. It’s now time to risk, move forward, and start believing it is possible. 

#9. I’m like everyone else 

You aren’t a cookie-cutter, where you are the same as everyone else. But with this limiting belief, you believe you can’t offer anything different in comparison to others in your family or professionals with the same title or job description as you.  

But the truth is that every person is unique, and that includes you. 

You ARE unique, and you have something unique to offer the people in your life just because you are you. The knowledge and experiences you have in your life are exclusively yours, and with that experience and knowledge, you see the world differently.   

#10. I will be judged  

It’s horrible when you’ve been judged and found wanted. And you probably believe that every time you do something, others will judge you. The more you focus on and think that others judge you, the more this belief becomes true

I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t control how people see me or feel about me. I can try to change their minds, but if they don’t want to see me in a positive light, there isn’t anything I can do to change that. And you know what? That’s okay. 

It matters more what I think of me and how I see myself. At the end of the day, I need to be my own best friend, and it’s far more important to learn not to judge myself than being scared of others judging me.    

#11. I failed 

When you tried something and “failed,” will you stand back up and try again? Probably not, right? 

You feel disempowered and like you are a failure because you couldn’t succeed. 

limiting beliefs worksheet pdf | list of limiting beliefs about money | limiting beliefs about friendship
A limiting belief is a story you tell yourself to keep you in your comfort zone, and it prevents you from becoming who you are meant to be. 

Just because the end result was different from what you expected and wanted, doesn’t mean you failed. 

Reframe your thinking. Instead of thinking you failed and won’t try again, think about what that opportunity taught you. And from what you learned, you should implement the lesson and try again.  

#12. I’m stupid 

If you call yourself stupid or an idiot when you’ve made a mistake, you won’t ever take the chance to do something where you may make more mistakes. This holds you back in life, and you’ll only ever stay in your comfort zone where you aren’t “stupid.” 

But making mistakes is part of life and how we learn. Every mistake made takes you closer to the result and success you want. 

So don’t say “I’m stupid” – even in jest. Remind yourself that you have something to learn and that you are one step closer to your goal because you know what NOT to do.  

#13. I don’t have money 

When you believe you don’t have money to do something, you see money as an obstacle. Instead, it’s an opportunity

It’s an opportunity to see where you can cut back and save, to be creative, and to try something new

You don’t have anything to lose, so don’t let this limiting belief hold you back. Go for it and make it work. 

#14. It’s not possible for me

With this limiting belief, you believe that things are possible for others but not for you. Why not for you? Are the other people smarter than you? Luckier than you? What do you really lack? 

You have what you need so overcome this limiting belief by thinking “It’s possible for me, just as it’s possible for them.” When you aren’t held back by limiting beliefs, you’ll see opportunities instead of obstacles, and things will become possible for you.    

#15. It’s too late 

Too late for what? You aren’t too late for anything. 

  • Shigemi Hirata is the world’s oldest college graduate at the age of 96 years and 200 days.  
  • Yuichiro Miura, 80, is the oldest person to summit Mount Everest.  
  • Oscar Swahn is the oldest person at 72 years and 281 days to compete in the Olympics

Makes you think, right? Is it really too late to chase your dreams, to learn healthy habits, or achieve a milestone? 

The answer? It isn’t. 

You need passion and drive, and you need to believe in yourself, and then you can achieve anything you set your heart on and your mind to.

#16. I am terrible at everything

As with the previous limiting beliefs examples, this one also forces you to let rewarding opportunities pass you by. I get it.

You’ve tried several times to achieve that goal. So far you haven’t been successful at manifesting the results you expect. It’s easy to say, “I suck at this! I suck at everything!” and then give up in frustration.

I challenge you to record yourself saying “I’m terrible at everything” and play it back to yourself. Ask yourself, “Is this true?” If you still think so, it’s time to challenge that negative belief that prevents you from making an effort. 

The truth of the matter is no one is terrible at EVERYTHING. Make a list of all the things you do efficiently in your journal. Use it as evidence to counter this limiting belief if it surfaces again.

#17. I have to be perfect

Are you someone who aims to do everything to perfection or won’t do it at all? The thinking pattern is rooted in perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a tendency to demand or expect an “extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation.

Perfection doesn’t exist. Stop thinking you have to be the best of the best or it isn’t acceptable for you to make mistakes. Otherwise, you will continue to limit your potential to do great things in life. You’re also risking unnecessary stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

#18. I don’t deserve it

I am absolutely guilty of self-sabotaging opportunities for love and relationship by telling myself “I’m hard to deal with” and “I will never meet anyone who will put up with me.”

Do you find yourself concluding you don’t deserve love, wealth, good health, great opportunities, or success? Thinking this way tells your brain to reject every chance for you to achieve and enjoy these desires.

Does this sound familiar? The perfect woman/woman comes along and what do you do? You stir up strife to cause an argument and push them away. If that doesn’t work, you avoid them or cheat. You’re subconsciously trying to make your loved one despise you and break up with you.

Overcome the unhealthy belief by chanting self-affirmations for self-doubt. For example, “I deserve love.” “I deserve financial success.”

#19. There’s someone better

Perhaps it’s the job or education opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to become a business partner, or a romantic partner you’ve waited for all your life. Instead of embracing what’s before you, you shoot yourself in the foot with these damaging words “There’s someone better.”

For example, you tell yourself “I’m sure they can find someone more suitable than me for that job.” I’ve dated a guy who told me he knows I deserve a guy who’s better than him. It is nothing short of a self-sabotaging statement that robs you of someone to love you. In other cases, it’s a dream job or building a successful business.

Of course, there are others with more knowledge, skills, and business sense, or prettier than you. However, you have to believe in yourself and your self-worth. Remind yourself the universe has aligned you with the opportunity because you are best suited for it.

#20. I’m struggling

I grew up hearing people around me say “I’m struggling.” I picked up the vocabulary and ran with it. One day, my self-awareness kicked in, and I said aloud, “No, I’m not struggling. I am successful.”

“I’m struggling” is a negative self-talk example that is no longer a part of my vocab. It will be helpful to remove it from yours if you want to live a life of prosperity. These words keep you feeling down, angry, worthless, and in poverty. You may feel incapable of coping with hardships once you accept them as your reality.

what are limiting beliefs | limiting beliefs list pdf | examples of limiting beliefs in business
The limiting beliefs you have about yourself, the world, or life are often subconscious.

Try reframing, a mental technique used to shift your mindset and silence your inner critical voice. The process involves “replacing negative or flawed thought patterns with more realistic and positive ones,” according to Better Help.

Having a positive outlook is proven to improve your mood and can give you the motivation needed to better your circumstances.

#21No one will listen to me

You’re gagging your own self thinking no one will give you an ear or believe anything you say. It’s important to speak up, especially if you’re in a toxic or abusive relationship. Staying silent allows the perpetrator to continue their behavior.

The negative belief may be linked back to low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. Perhaps it’s shyness or introversion. Some think they are not loud enough. Others believe they lack the social or communication skills needed to get others to listen or take them seriously.

Work on being more assertive and building your self-confidence by checking out 15 Habits to Increase Your Self-Confidence and 60 Affirmations to Boost Your Confidence and Self-Esteem.

 [See a list of 31 Bad Habits You Should Get Rid of Today]

How You Can Overcome Limiting Beliefs

Overcoming the limiting beliefs you have isn’t easy, especially if you don’t even know about them. But did the limiting beliefs examples I shared make you aware of these holding-you-back beliefs you have? 

First, you must identify the limiting belief. Recognize and acknowledge it.  

Then, you need to find the lie since a limiting belief isn’t wholly true. For example, maybe your mom died in a car accident, so you believe you can’t drive.

But you can, because you went for driving lessons and even have a license. The truth is that you can drive, but don’t because you tell yourself “you can’t.” 

The next step is to talk it out. When your limiting belief is an ingrained part of your identity, you may need professional help. But if your limiting belief is just an excuse to not do something, then you should just do it

Reframe what you believe, test what you supposedly can’t do, and see what happens. Keep practicing to break your old, bad habits, learn a growth mindset, and believe in yourself – with no limits this time!  

Other strategies you can use to help you overcome your limiting beliefs are: 

Final Thoughts on Limiting Beliefs Examples 

These limiting beliefs examples should be an eye-opener for you… they were for me. I’m sure you can relate to quite a few of these if you are honest with yourself, and there’s no shame in that. 

What matters is that you identify what’s holding you back in life. This way, you’ll know what you need to work on to grow, learn, and achieve your goals. 

Besides conquering your limiting beliefs, you also need perseverance to help you reach success. Learn all about how grit helps you achieve your goals and increase your happiness in this comprehensive guide.

And if you're looking for more resources to conquer your limiting beliefs, check out these blog posts:

limiting beliefs examples | top 10 self limiting beliefs | limiting and empowering beliefs examples
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