Episode 19: How to Question Your Limiting Beliefs

Sep 12, 2019

Every one of us has limiting beliefs—these are thoughts that hold us back from living the life we want to live.  However, in most cases we don't know that they are holding us back or stopping us from proceeding.  

This is because each of us sees our own limiting beliefs as facts, as just "the way things are."  We have had our thoughts for so long, that they just appear to be true.

When we learn to question these long-held beliefs it allows us to take different action and get completely different results in our life.

So how do we do this?   How do we find and question the beliefs that seem true, but are really only holding us back?

These three questions can help you:

  1. What would I do if I didn’t believe this?
  2. What if I’m wrong about that?
  3. What if this is just a story my brain made up and what if I just "forgot this" about myself?

Join me on this episode of the podcast where we talk about how to question your limiting beliefs and get the life you've always wanted.




Hello podcast universe. Welcome to Episode 19 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I'm so excited to be here with you today. Thank you for listening and subscribing and sharing the podcast. I got notes from several of you this week about how much you're enjoying the podcast. And for me that is just 100% awesome. If you want to leave me review on iTunes, that would also be awesome and I'd really love to read your feedback there. Your reviews actually help people find the podcast and I really appreciate it.

Okay so today on the podcast I want to talk about limiting beliefs and I think this is just a natural follow up to what we talked about last week. So last week we talked about creating things for future us by acting in the present and so then maybe some of you were like, "Yes I'm totally going to create something for future me," and then you went to do it and you were like "Well, I don't know how to do that." Right? "I know I need to act now in the present. But how and how can I, with my particular circumstances and my knowledge and my abilities, ever create what I really want?"

And that's where our limiting beliefs come in. We think that there are actual true reasons that we can't do the things that we want to do in our lives because of who we are what we've done in the past or what our circumstances are. We think there are actual reasons keeping us from the life that we want. And so that's why I want to talk to you today about our limiting beliefs. And when I say limiting beliefs I mean any beliefs that are holding us back from living the life we want to live—whether it's in our relationships or in the amount of money we earn or our ability to achieve health goals maybe in our capacity to create something different and new in our future. In other words these are beliefs that stop us from creating the life we want.

So as you know one of my daughters is working in China right now and this morning I got a text from my father in law asking for her mailing address and I was like "Huh. I don't actually know her mailing address." So I thought about why I don't have a mailing address for my daughter in China. I realized that I have this thought or this belief that there's no way to send anything to China. So if I'm not going to send her anything then I don't need her mailing address. (Though as her mother I probably should know more about her location and her whereabouts than I do but that's a whole other podcast.)

So anyway her birthday is in a few weeks and so I just assume that you can't send things to China. And so I'll just put money in her account on her birthday. Right? Happy Birthday! I never even looked into whether or not you could send things to China or get her address or plan ahead for her birthday because I had this belief that you can't send things to China. Now, Is that true? I actually have no idea. Where did that idea and belief come from? I also have no idea. I just believe that you can't send things to China. And so believing that then shaped all my actions afterwards. So do you see? Whether or not it's really true that you can't send things to China, it's true for me. And so then I act in a certain way and I get results from those actions.

So my father in law does not have that belief apparently. And so his action is to ask me for her address and send her something for her birthday. So I think we can all just be glad that Olivia has a grandfather in her life who has a different belief system than her mother. Let me just underline the fact that I have a belief and because I have this belief, and not because it's actually true, then I behave and act in a certain way.

Our thoughts either limit or allow us to act. So in this case, this belief is limiting my actions in sending stuff to China. And what I want to show you is that whatever you're doing in her life it's because your thoughts are either limiting or allowing you to do it and to take action in your life. The only thing between you and the things you want is your beliefs, your thoughts.

So let me give you one other little example. So a month ago I was taking my daughter to college and we left at like 3:00 in the morning. The streets were empty. The rest of the world is asleep. And as I pulled out of our neighborhood I was sitting there at a red light for a long time. And I was sitting there at this red light at 3:00 in the morning and there is not a single other car on the road. There's just me and this light and quiet roads for as far as the eye can see. And as I was sitting there I started thinking about "Why am I sitting here?" I'm stopped because there is a red light and I believe that red means stop. I believe that when the light is red your car should be stopped.

Now I'm not trying to have a discussion about whether or not I should have stopped the red light. What I'm trying to point out is that the belief that you stop on red is the only reason that I'm stopped there. Nothing is physically stopping me from proceeding. I'm not going to cause any traffic problems if I go. There is no traffic. And yetI stopped and waited. And as I sat there and the minutes rolled by, it made me think about how many other things in my life I'm just stopped at, just waiting for because I have a belief that's keeping me from proceeding.

So what beliefs do you have that are keeping you from proceeding, that are stopping you from taking action in your life and creating what you want? Because, spoiler alert, did you know you get to believe whatever you want? You get to believe whatever you want. You get to believe you can send things to China or you get to believe you can't. You get to believe that you can lose weight or you get to believe that you can't. You get to believe that you can live without conflict or you get to believe that love and peace are meant for everyone else but you. You get to believe you can have money or you get to believe that you will always be poor. You get to believe whatever you want and your life and the results in your life will directly reflect those beliefs.

So you can kind of flip that around and see it the other way. If we aren't getting a certain result in our lives the only reason for that is because of the belief system behind it. We have a limiting belief stuck in there somewhere and that belief is causing us to operate from feelings that don't produce the actions we want and that's why we aren't getting the results we want. And I know that we all know this on some intellectual level, right? We understand that our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings drive our actions, our actions accumulate into results. So therefore if we aren't getting the result we want it's because of a thought, the thing at the beginning of the chain, the thing that starts the whole thing going and puts everything else in motion.

However, even though we know this, it just feels so much different in real life. We feel like our results just are. We are overweight. We are in debt. We are disconnected and angry. We are stuck in our job. It just seems like that's the way that things are. And these results seem completely independent of our thoughts. But what I want you to know is that they never are. The thoughts we have are keeping us from getting what we want in our lives and, not only that, the thoughts we have are keeping us from even seeing that there is another possibility. When we believe that we are the kind of person that is overweight, not only does this belief keep us from losing weight, that belief keeps us from even seeing that something else might be possible. The belief makes it a reality. Like it just is. When we believe that we never have enough money that belief not only keeps us in scarcity and lack, but it prevents us from even seeing that money is possible.

So I'm going to give you a little story to help explain this a little better. So after David finished graduate school we moved to San Diego where he had a fellowship at the UCSD Medical Center and at the time we had one car and we had two babies and we lived in this little two bedroom apartment in the suburbs of San Diego. And so we had this one car, this little blue Toyota Corolla. I loved that car and David took that car to the UCSD Medical Center every day and I stayed in the apartment with our two babie. And I did that for a while, but you can really do that for so long before you go a little nuts and I was like "We've gotta get out of this apartment." Right?

And so I had seen a bus stop just down the hill from our apartment. And so I decided I'm going to get a bus pass and I'm going to go places. So I got this bus pass and then I got a year pass to the San Diego Zoo. And a couple times a week. I would put Caleb in the stroller and Olivia in the little baby carrier that you wear and we'd go to the zoo for the day.

And so before I go on with the story, I want to point out here that my belief was that David needed the car. We had one car. That was a fact. My belief was David needed the car but I also believed I didn't have to be stuck at home and I could figure something out.

Okay, so I had this bus pass and we would go down to the zoo a couple times a week and get out of the house. But one day we're at the zoo and we missed our usual bus home. We were out in the suburbs so we usually took the express bus home but we missed the bus. And so I had to take a longer bus through downtown San Diego rather than taking the express and so I'm sitting there on the bus. I've got my stroller and the baby carrier and the diaper bag and the lunchbox and I have two babies on my lap right. We're like this big circus, right? When suddenly the bus pulls up directly in front of the UCSD Medical Center and I was like, "WHAT?!"

Suddenly my belief system completely shifted. I had had one belief: David needs the car. And suddenly I got new information that changed that limiting belief. There is a bus stop in front of the medical center which means David doesn't need the car. So I was so excited and we rode home on the bus. And I haul the kids and the stroller and the diaper bag in the lunch box and everything back up the hill to the apartment. And when David got home I was like, "Guess what? There is a bus stop right in front of the hospital. You can ride the bus to work and I can have the car. This is amazing, right?"

And he said, "April do you know what kind of people ride the bus?"

I said, "I ride the bus. Me and your two children ride the bus. We ride the bus."

So it turns out it wasn't that David didn't know there was a bus stop. It was just that he had a belief that he was not the kind of person that rode the bus. So now don't get distracted here. The point is that we were both operating with limiting beliefs and that was dictating all of our actions. I believed that David needed the car and so not only did it create the result that David used the car but it prevented me from even seeing that there might be another possibility. I couldn't see any different solution because I believed my current reality was just true. David needed the car.

I had never even questioned the belief that David needed the car. I just assumed that was true and at the same time David was operating under the belief that he wasn't the kind of person who rode the bus. He never questioned the belief that he could ride the bus and those beliefs are what gave us the results we were getting. We couldn't see another possibility because our beliefs were limiting what we could create and see in our lives. And so then by questioning them we were able to create an entirely new solution, which p.s. in this case was to buy a second car. Suddenly it became a possibility, right?

Okay. but I tell you this story because the same is true for you in any area of your life, right? When you look at your life and you think you can't have what you want because of ____________, right? Because David needs the car. Right? That makes you limited in some way and it is only that belief that is keeping those limitations in place. So when you look at your life and you think you can't have what you want that somehow you're limited in some way because of a fact it's actually only your belief keeping those limitations in place. And even if they seem true you can question them, right? I had never even questioned the thought: David needs the car. Like what if that's not true? That could change everything.

All right. So that's the first key I want to give you. Look at the things that you think are legitimately limiting you and then play around with the idea that even if it seems true you don't have to believe it. You can ask yourself "If I didn't believe this, then what would I do?" If I didn't believe David needed the car, then what would we do? So it's really helpful to notice that even if it seems true you don't have to believe it.

So for example I have a client that has a professional goal to take a CPA test and improve the qualifications for his job, and he said "I really want to prepare and take this exam, but I work full time and I have a young family and I need to get enough sleep to be able to do my best work and be able to study." So in this case he was limited by his belief that he needed to get enough sleep, right? He believed that he needed to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night and this belief was preventing him from me being able to both simultaneously work full-time and study for the exam.

And so I asked him why he was choosing to believe he needed to sleep seven or eight hours a night and he said, "Well there's scientific studies, right? There's evidence that we perform best on seven or eight hours of sleep." So in this case this belief seems so true that there's even scientific research backing up his belief. But the point is that his belief even if it's true is limiting his ability to get the results he wants in his life and he doesn't have to believe that if he doesn't want to.

So I asked him, "If you didn't believe that, if you didn't believe you needed seven or eight hours of sleep, then what would you do?" And this allowed him to evaluate if the thought was really serving him or if the thought was limiting him.

So I can already hear your objections, right? April, there's scientific evidence! But I'm telling you it doesn't matter. If I was pressed, I could find just as much scientific evidence that less sleep has no impact on performance. And here's the thing: Even if it's true, you don't have to believe that. You can believe what ever you want especially if the thing you believe is limiting you. I told my client, "You are under no obligation to believe that."

And I told him this whole story about Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he said when he first came to this country he had to take English lessons and he had to work and he was taking acting lessons and he was training like so many hours a day in the gym and everyone said, "Okay, in order to train you need to have this many hours of sleep to recover from the gym." And he said, "I just didn't have that many hours. I had to go to work. I had to study. I had to go to class, and I had to work in the gym, so I learned to sleep faster." In other words Schwarzenegger was not limited by what other people told him about recovery. He decided to believe that he could just sleep faster. I love this so much, right? He could do in six hours what other people did in eight. He adopted the belief that he could sleep faster and that served him rather than limiting him.

So here's what I want you to hear from all of this. Even if it's true, even if the belief is true, you don't have to believe it. What would you do if you didn't believe that?

Okay, the second thing that can help you when you're trying to eliminate limiting beliefs and get different results is your ability and your willingness to be wrong. And I love the question: What if I'm wrong about that? I ask it all the time in my life, right? I can't lose weight. What if I'm wrong about that? I'm hard to live with. What if I'm wrong about that? I'm bad with money. Wait. What if I'm wrong about that? The truth is, the more willing you are to be wrong about your beliefs the less they will limit you. You won't be attached to them like they're true and then they won't have the power to limit you.

So for example when I started losing weight I had this belief that you have to do cardio to lose fat and lose weight. And my coach said, "Um, how about we try resistance training right? Let's do some weights."

And I would go to the gym and it was such different exercise than I had ever done before. It was such different training. I had always done cardio which involves getting your heart rate up and not letting it drop and moving, moving, moving, all the time. But weight training and resistance training has a lot more downtime. You're not moving every second. You have to rest between your sets so that your muscles have enough time to recover and refill with ATP and get ready to contract again. All the calcium and the potassium has to get to the other side of the neurons so that they can contract the muscle again. And so you do a set or even a superset, maybe at the most like 4 different lifts together, and then you rest for a minute or two and then you run the reps again.

When I started, I would go to the gym and I watched these guys at the gym, right? And they're just like sitting there. Like they're on a machine or they're sitting there with weights and they're just sitting there and I'm like, "What is happening here?"They do the reps and then they just sit on the machine and then they glance at the clock every now and then. And I'm thinking, "Dude, this is never gonna work," right? It just seemed like the exact opposite of everything I had ever done. Aren't you supposed to be bouncing around and jumping and kicking and running and punching and just keep moving in order to lose fat?

So this seriously challenged my belief system. How could putting stress on the muscles and then resting do anything to burn fat that I wanted to get off my body. And so around this time I heard this podcast by Shawn Stevenson. He does the Model Health Show and he had a podcast, I think it was called The Cardio Myth or something like that and he had all these points about how cardio is not going to help you lose weight. And they were good enough points and my coach was encouraging me at the same time, so I was willing to think, "Okay like maybe I've been wrong about this this whole time. Is it possible that I am wrong about cardio? Is it possible I don't know how to lose weight and maybe I should try something else?" Questioning the limiting belief about cardio caused me to achieve completely different results in my body and in my life.

Now I'm not saying you have to adopt my beliefs about weight lifting. All I'm saying is that your willingness to be wrong allows different possibilities in your life. You never, ever have to change your beliefs, especially if they're serving you, but it is just that when you're ready to give a different result, when you want something else in your life, you can ask yourself, "What if I'm wrong about this?" and embrace being wrong about it in order to change your limiting belief.

Okay, the third thing I want to talk to you about in regards to limiting belief is the story that we tell about ourselves. So we all have a story that we tell about ourselves. These are the things that we just think are true about us. And sometimes they are things that we've picked up from other people, sometimes or things that we've noticed about ourselves, sometimes there's things like experts have told us like teachers or doctors or therapists in our lives. And so then we take on these things and we create a story about ourselves.

The question is if believing that story is really serving us because everything you believe about yourself everything in the story is optional. Everything. No matter who told you it. Because whether we like it or not those things that we hear and choose to believe do make a difference and so it's important to question them.

My sister recently wrote a book called Unqualified Success. Super awesome, I recommended to all of you. But in one of the chapters, she talks about the study that was done at Stanford in 1975. And in this study there's this group of undergraduate students and they were given pairs of suicide notes. And one of the notes has been made up and written by a writer and one of the notes is real.

And so the students are asked to read both notes and decide which one is the real note and which one is the fake and so they were given 25 pairs of these notes and then the researchers told half of the people. "Oh my gosh you were so good at that task. You got twenty four out of twenty five right. You were so good at finding the real note." And then they told the other half the students, "You were not very good at finding the real note. Out of 25 times you only found 10 that were the real note and you're just not very good at that."

But in reality the whole thing was a setup. The scores were fictitious. They just made up the numbers. Those who were they told were good at finding the notes were in fact no better than the people they told were bad at finding the notes. Everybody was just average. But the point is that they told them that they were really good at it. Or they told them that they were really bad at it.

And then in the second half of the study the students are told about the deception they're told that their scores were completely fabricated. So then they just had the students actually guess how many letters that they had actually gotten right. And this is where the fascinating part occurred. The students that they had told were really, really good at it, when they guessed their score they guessed that they were higher than average. And the students who'd been told that they were really bad at it, when they guess their score, they always guessed that they were lower than average. Even though they had just been told that their scores were fictitious, meaning that even though each student knew that their original score was fabricated, their belief that they were really good at the task or their belief that they were really bad at the task stuck around and stuck in their minds. And when they had to guess how many they got, they thought of themselves as above average or below average.

And so this is what the researchers wrote in their paper. They said, "Even after the evidence for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions to those beliefs. Once formed impressions are remarkably perseverant." Meaning that once we have a story about ourselves we fail to make appropriate revisions to that story. Once we create this story it kind of sticks around. This is what they're saying.

So during part of his life Van Gogh left Paris and went into another place in France to work on his art. And while he was away he wrote to his brother and he wrote him all these letters telling him about his art and the things that he was doing and learning and the progress he was trying to make in his art. And one of the letters he wrote, "I have to forget the things I've taught myself."

I have to forget the things I've taught myself. In our lives there are so many things we have taught ourselves about ourselves. We have created stories about our lives, about our past, about our abilities, about our capacity, about our potential, about the kind of people that we are. We've told stories about what we're good at, and what our weaknesses are, what our abilities are, what our limitations are. And we've just taught ourselves that that's who we are. We say things like, "Well I'm just not consistent" or "I've always been this way" or "I've never been a person who gets up early or exercises or has good relationships." We say things like "Well I just struggle in this area. I always have" or "I'm just too old or I'm too dumb or I'm too tired." Right?

These are all stories that we just tell ourselves and we have lots of stories that define our lives that tell us who we are and remind us who we've always been. For example I have clients who tell me, "I have social anxiety" like it's a fact. Like that's just the story they tell. "I have social anxiety" and this belief makes them feel like there's something wrong with them. It's limiting them and their capacity and it holds them back. What if they forgot that about themselves? They just forgot that they had social anxiety? Or what if they said, "Okay, I'm a human being and worrying about what other people think is part of being human. I'm exactly like I should be."

I have clients who think they got a raw deal. They think that their whole life is a really bad hand and things never go right for them. And this belief limits their ability to see any other possibility. What if they just forgot that? What if they forgot that they got a bad deal and they just thought my life is going exactly like it should? What if they forgot that their life was unfair? And thought instead, "This is all happening for me."

What I want you to know is that both stories are equally true, in that neither of them are true. They're both made up. They're just thoughts. They're just the stories we tell and they're just the way you interpret the events of your life. But, and this is the important part, each story that you believe will give you completely different results.

Each one of you have a story about yourself. What is that story creating for you in your life?

I am about two weeks away from my final coach certification and have been really putting tons of effort into building my business and building my coaching practice. And in this process I have had to question so many stories about myself and so many limiting beliefs.

And it kind of started with my coach asking me, "Okay, what's your 90 day goal?" And I was like, "Um." I just had never seen myself as a person who set like business goals. That was not part of who I was. And so this really made me question my beliefs about me and the story I was telling about my ability to earn money and my ability to build a coaching practice.

And so when I set that first goal it was like really pushing against that limiting belief that I don't know how to earn money. And so I started working on this limiting beliefs enough to start making progress towards my goal, right? As I was getting some traction towards my goal, my coach said, "Hey what if you doubled your goal?"

And again, boom, I came right up against my limiting belief and my first thought was like, "That's impossible." That was my limiting belief (and also my second thought was "I really hate my coach.") Over and over again she questions and test and pushes against my limiting beliefs. So I doubled my goal. I expanded my beliefs and set another big goal, right? And so then on Saturday, as I am starting to see some traction on this doubled goal, I text my coach, so excited about the progress that I was making and she texted back, "I think you should double your goal."

You've got to be kidding me right? Where's my gold star? Are we just going to keep doubling this goal forever and ever?

And suddenly I was like, "Oh yes, we are." Right? Because every time I set a new goal that is the limit of my belief—it is always the most I think I can ever possibly do. It's almost impossible, right? It's at the limit of my belief. And so then I start working towards it. And then the miracle happens: My capacity actually expands to meet that new belief. So then my awesome coach is wise enough to push the limits of that belief again and again and again, ad infinitum right?

Because she knows that my only limitations are actually my beliefs. Do you see I'm only limited by what I think I can do? And so she says like, "What if you double it?" and my brain's like, "What?" And then it starts working towards it. And so she just keeps challenging what I think about myself. She challenges the story I'm telling about myself. She's always challenging my current story to see what's possible for me.

Now what if you did that? What if you were always challenging the story you were telling about yourself? My first goal seemed impossible. I believed that was true. But when I was willing to push the limits of my own belief and believe a different story about me then the possibilities started to open up.

So this week I want you to do this work by thinking first about the thing you want most in your life. What's the result in your life you want the most? And then I want you to make a list of the top five reasons why you can't have that thing, why you can't have the thing that you want the most, the things that your brain thinks are just facts but which are in fact just limiting beliefs. Your brain thinks they're true but really they're just sentences that you've been telling yourself for so long you just think they're true.

And here's what I want you to know. None of them are. None of them are facts. Okay, so you've thought about the thing you want most in your life. You've listed the top five reasons why you can't have that thing. And then one by one I want to take them and challenge them by asking:

First, what would I do if I didn't believe this? What action would I take if I didn't believe this?

Then I want you to ask, What if I'm wrong about that? What if I'm wrong about that?

And then last. I want you to ask, What if this is just a story my brain made up? What if I just forgot this about myself?

As you start to ask these questions I am hoping that your mind will shift enough that you can catch a glimpse of an entirely new possibility, like your mind pulls up to the bus up in front of UCSD and its like, "Wait a minute." Because the best news ever is that no matter what you believe about yourself or your life, those limiting beliefs are all 100% optional. You don't have to think them. And that my friends is 100% awesome.

I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.




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