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So What Is A Limiting Belief?

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So what is a limiting belief?

Don't you love the current expression: 'does what it says on the can'. The can is, of course, purely metaphorical and 'does what it says' suggests clarity and ultimate intelligibility.

A limiting belief, obviously, does exactly what it says on the can: it holds people back in any and every area of their life. Perfectly clear ? or is it?

In fact, the potential problem lies in the underlying assumption that the limiting beliefs sufferer actually believes they have any real and unique value, gifts and qualities. Often they don't. That's the nature of a limiting belief.

Women who have endured the brainwashing of an abusive relationship don't feel they are blessed with value, gifts and qualities. Understandably, they tend not to feel blessed at all. Even if they know, with their head, that they have certainly abilities; even if friends, family and colleagues corroborate this, they don't really believe it. It has no bearing on their emotional world.

"Yes, but?" they'll say; or, "it doesn't make me feel better about myself", or other words to that effect. They can't feel any pleasure in the good that others see in them, because they simply don't believe it. The only communications they can truly receive are on the frequency of the negative beliefs that they hold about themselves.

It's an agonising place to be, as well as endlessly frustrating for the people who try to support them.

Working with other women's limiting beliefs recently took me back to my first experience of coaching?

At first when the core question: "What's holding you back?" came up: I couldn't even formulate an answer.

I thought I was doing pretty well when I eventually came up with an answer and proudly offered it to my first coach: what was holding me back, I said, was me.

Awareness has to start somewhere, I guess. As I now see it, I was both right and wrong. What was holding me back was me ? inasmuch as it was not anyone else

But, equally, what was holding me back it was not me.

You see, we are not our self-limiting beliefs and our self-limiting beliefs are not who we are. Not at all. They are, at most, a distorting, fairground mirror, in which we glimpse a grotesque distortion of ourselves.

I know this with my head because I've learned it somewhere along my own (ongoing) journey. I believe it with my whole being because I see it in the women I work with.

They may experience themselves as a human black hole. Regardless of what goes into them, nothing unconditionally good will ever come out from them. Or so they believe. They feel condemned to sit forever on the sidelines, watching the great game of life without ever becoming full participants.

They are like hungry, urchins, whose nose is forever pressed against the window, They can see other people seated at the banquet of life and they know, they just know that they'll never participate in that feast.

Now, that knowledge is false. They have no way of predicting the future. Their view of their world is simply darkened by a self-limiting belief that appears to have all the trappings of reality. So they struggle, futilely, with a vision of the future that is crude, pessimistic, and false. That vision that crushes them daily.

And yet, as soon as they turn their focus away from themselves, they are perceptive, creative, supportive, nurturing, dynamic, multi-talented, energetic. Those qualities, and many more, are who they truly are.

Anyone who survives an abusive relationship has actually dug very deep and unearthed enormous personal resources and riches.

For as long as they continue to regard themselves through the filter of self-limiting beliefs they may well remain deaf, blind and numb to their own personal treasure. But their treasure will continue to grow and the day will come when they are able to claim it and rejoice in it.

How long will the process take? That depends. If you listen to your limiting beliefs, it'll make the seven labours of Hercules pale into insignificance.

But if you start to challenge them, if you start to ask yourself ? or better still, get someone else to ask you: 'Is it always that way?', 'Do you never??' , 'How do you know what the future holds? Do you have special gifts?' then you'll start to get some new answers and some new realizations.

You'll find that your limiting beliefs will start to fall by the wayside. You'll be surprised by how much faster you can move forward without them. And you'll be amazed to discover just how special and valuable you truly are.

(C) Annie Kaszina 2005

An NLP Practitioner and Women's Empowerment Coach, Annie helps women to create strong boundaries, so they can learn to build healthy, nurturing relationships where they can give and receive the love they want, safely. To subscribe to Annie's twice monthly ezine, or order her eBook 'The Woman You Want To Be, go: to

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