How To Uncover Your Limiting Beliefs And Live An Unmistakable Life

Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will, through work, bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’.
— Chuck Close
Uncover Your Limiting Beliefs

How To Uncover Your Limiting Beliefs And Live An Unmistakable Life


I decided in my late twenties that I needed to re-shape some of my limiting beliefs. One in particular had floated above my head like a dark cloud. I adopted a limiting belief early on that I was a horrible student because I thought tests reflected my capability. I carried this ass-backwards limiting belief through high school, college and into university. The mere mention of a test still takes a toll on my sanity. But now I know why and what can be done do to uncover your limiting beliefs so you can live an unmistakable life.

My limiting belief of being a poor student felt like it had the shelf life of a twinkie, even a nuclear apocalypse couldn't erase its existence. This is in large part because I continued to be a victim of my thoughts. My thoughts acted as the preservatives that kept it alive. I let those feelings run wild.

Last month I sat down for Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviour training for some work I do with a mental health organization for youth. I've taken that training many times, so I know there's a test at the end. I know this work inside out, yet all the familiar panic set in. My body and mind cooperate, but in a mutual agreement to halt all operations and leave me to fend for myself. The words of Eminem dance through my head.

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the
surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin'
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
He's chokin', how, everybody's jokin' now
The clocks run out, times up, over, 

I luckily did not vomit on my sweater, but you catch the drift.

Right now, you have any number of beliefs that you've come to layer on over the years – just like you see in Kindergarten as they get ready for recess in the dead of winter.

Kids are loaded down with layers to keep them warm, comfy and safe. They serve a purpose by shielding them from the unforgiving elements. But once back inside, the layers have the opposite effect. The layers designed for the bone-chilling winters suck the energy right out of those sweaty kids. It's like watching little zombies bump into walls and make inaudible sounds of frustration.

Holding on to limiting beliefs are much the same. As a kid you wrap them around you like a safety blanket from the harsh reality of society. You don't have the life experience or tools to effectively deal with your shit. If you're lucky, your parents help navigate the sometimes unforgiving world of judgment as a kid.

Things That Matter For An Unmistakable Life

But as an adult you have the opportunity to strip yourself of the bulky layers. Unless your Mom still dresses you, which is a whole other issue for which I'm not qualified to help.

It's not so much discovering yourself, as it is uncovering yourself. Your ideal self exists, it's just buried under a snowsuit of limiting beliefs.

When you live at the mercy of the things happening around you, you're a victim to your thoughts. This is the bulkiest layer. The full onesie snowsuit. What I mean by this is it feels like a lack of control over your life. Movement is limited and restricted by the weight of this layer. If you're feeling emotions of guilt, fear, worry, self-doubt and low self-esteem, that's where a lot of this heavy weight on your shoulders comes from.

There's a tendency to internalize a lot of this shit, refusing to acknowledge it because it's uncomfortable. Does it feel like you lack the energy and motivation to make change? This layer is the main culprit.

After we shed the bulk, we have a little movement to breathe. But it brings anger with it.

We tend to put a lot of blame on ourselves and the people around us for all that negative baggage – the thoughts / emotions we had when we felt the bulk of the first layer. This comes from the presence of conflict. It could be the culmination of either external pressures we face day-to-day, or it could be the internal battle that we always struggle with. But in both cases, it's a fixation on "what's wrong" thinking.

For some of us, this layer won't come off until we uncover an experience we're still holding on to. I was stuck in this stage because I never came to terms with my second grade teacher calling me stupid in front of the entire class.

When I was able to name what was holding me back, it was like a slingshot. I could let go and launch forward. I understood why I felt the way I did. I could take responsibility for my thoughts and the emotions that were drowning me. And for the first time in my life, I knew that what I continued to feel was up to me.

These first couple layers can be tricky to shed on your own. I had a Coach to guide me and provide a safe environment to challenge my assumptions, interpretations and limiting beliefs. It gave me a better understanding of who I am, why I had made the decisions I did, and why all of that caused me to avoid certain experiences. I saw myself for who I am for the first time in my life. It's what led me to become a Coach so I could help others do the same.

If you're ready to throw off the layers, know that you don't have to change who you are or to go in search of something you don't already have. You only need to see yourself clearly. Your personality is not fixed. It constantly changes, as does everything else in life.

Actor and writer Nick Kroll talks to Sam Jones about how taking action in your art is better than waiting around for a project to come to you. Conquering your limiting beliefs, one action at a time.