What's really holding you back?

There are more reasons why people don't accomplish their goals than there are people on the planet; most of us have several reasons at any given time. But one of the reasons that's overlooked most often is the most insidious: Our own limiting beliefs. Tucked away deep in our subconscious, these are beliefs that assure us our goals and dreams are unattainable, giving us plenty of reasons to procrastinate or otherwise sabotage ourselves.

It can be hard to acknowledge the ways in which we sabotage ourselves. It can be painful. But in my experience, admitting the fact that we self-sabotage is a whole lot less painful than the continued feelings of failure when we let ourselves down. Plus there's a sense of freedom in embracing the truth.

But once we've admitted it, then what? If the source of the sabotage is locked away in our subconscious, how can we change it?

First we need to identify the fallacious belief. The indicators are there, if we pay close enough attention. An upset stomach when thinking about an upcoming task, or a self-deprecating comment when someone asks about our progress. Even right in the act of procrastination, we can find the beginning of a trail of breadcrumbs that lead back to the limiting belief.

Sometimes we don't even have to work that hard; sometimes we know exactly what story is holding us back. Which can be even more daunting to confront, particularly if it's been folded into our identity and sense of self.

Once we know what the belief is, we can begin to uncouple it. We can collect data that refutes it, evidence that shows that the belief is false. This is where babysteps are particularly useful, small non-threatening steps forward that provide a sort of personal proof of concept.

We can ask other people to share their perspective, loved ones and counselors who can be counted on to be honest and forthright. They are able to see our actions and behaviors without the limiting lens, and can provide a more accurate sense of what is real.

Another useful tool is a journal. When we write down our struggles and successes on a regular basis then we can go back and review them later to see the ways in which our limiting beliefs and expectations have held us back, and the ways in which we have made progress in spite of them.

Once the uncoupling has begun, then commitment comes in. Because every time that belief comes up, you have to refute it. Over and over again, as long as it takes. Depending on where the belief comes from, and how old you were when it took hold, that belief might pop up periodically for years. Perhaps a set of daily affirmations could help to reinforce your truth, or signs around your living and working space. Whatever you need to help you stay in the fullness of your power, and not slip back into the limited state.

It might sound like a lot of work, and it is. But it's so much better than the alternative. Not feeling like you're controlled by some "innate quality", being able to develop and maintain momentum in your life and towards your goal is totally worth the effort of paying attention. Of pausing, taking a breath, looking around and within you, and seeing the truth. Give it a try. You're worth it.