Limitations are self-imposed attachments to other people's perceptions.
Often, other people's perceptions of reality become ingrained in our minds and bodies like deep grooves in a dirt road. We become attached to these perceptions at an early age, believing them to be true. The perceptions are merely that—views on life. When we attach meaning to these perceptions, over and over again, they create cyclical habits, beliefs, and patterns.
We identify with these patterns. We believe our patterns are who we are. We often choose life situations that confirm our patterns to feel safe. Even if these habits and patterns are unhealthy.
If a situation pushes against our patterns, we become emotionally triggered by the very patterns we’ve created. Defending them. Sabotaging joyful and successful life experiences as a way to confirm these limiting beliefs and patterns.
For example: Let’s say you have a tendency to feel urgency about not having enough time. Not enough time to complete projects, spend time with family and friends, or go on a vacation.
This sense of urgency and “not enough” stems from a belief formulated when you were very young. A belief you learned as an infant. Of not receiving the nourishment you desired from your mother/parent/guardian in the way you desired it.1
The “not enough” trigger occurs when you desire food, intimacy, or connection with others and your needs aren’t met. Feelings of sadness, lack of belonging, and pleasing others to fill the “not enough hole” within yourself.
When we attach meaning to our feelings of uncertainty, doubt, confusion, or overwhelm, we often become vulnerable to taking on other people’s beliefs.
We consume people's beliefs like potato chips, beer, and hamburgers without considering whether they are healthy or not. People often have the best intentions in giving information, judgement, criticism, and advice as a way to protect us from ourselves. As if we would endanger our own lives without their prized opinions.
Yet, experience shapes our lives. It's how we learn and grow. And our experiences may be contrary to the beliefs we have about ourselves, others have about us, or what society tells us. If other people's limiting beliefs—which we’ve taken on as our own—continue to shape our lives, then we are living in a mediocre world where only tuna sandwiches and water are served, over and over again.
When taking in information ask: Is this advice serving me in this moment? Is this piece of information from this person's experience enhancing my life?
If the answer is yes, then continue listening. If the answer is no, simply acknowledge it's not working by telling yourself and them, “This is not working for me.” Then decide whether to continue to listen or go for a walk.
Self-Sabotaging Limitations keep us “safe” rather than allowing us to experience the joy of who we are.
To alleviate suffering from limiting self-sabotaging patterns, it's best to go to the core of their existence. Going to the core of any aspect of the self, takes perseverance, practice, and a desire for health. When dealing with very challenging and triggering patterns, it's best to seek help from a professional.
6 Steps to Transforming your Self-Sabotaging Limitations
- Identify the Limitation. Choose a current life situation, belief, habit, or thought pattern that feels limiting. One that has been bothering you in the past week or month. Biting at you like a mosquito, and keeping you from experiencing joy. Once, you've identified the limitation, sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed. You will need 5 - 15 minutes. You may not completely release the entire limitation within 5 - 15 minutes; however, you will loosen the grip, allowing more space to experience peace of mind.
- Journey to Your Sacred Safe Place. Take three deep breaths from your belly. Imagine your Sacred Safe Place as a place of comfort, support, and love. Next, allow your Sacred Safe Place to be inside of your body, and notice where it resides at this moment.
- Locate the Limitation Within the Body. With your eyes closed, state your intention to go to the core of the limitation, to the life experience that started the pattern long ago. Breathe naturally and locate the limiting belief, pattern, habit, or emotion inside your body. Where is it living right now? In your stomach, intestines, kidneys, heart?
- Receive an Image, Voice, or Sensation of the Limitation. Open to receiving an image, color, sensation, or voice of this limitation. What does it look like or who does it sound like? For example, does it look like the Balrog from Lord of the Rings? Or does it sound like your father when he was angry and critical about the way you took out the trash? Or does it feel like judgement from a teacher about being a bum, and never amounting to anything in life? Or does it feel like prickly sensations in your heart?
- Dialogue with the Limitation. This step is crucial in learning more about the limitation. From your Sacred Safe Place, ask this limitation: "What does it need?" Open to receiving a response such as: acceptance, to be heard, to be understood, peace, joy, belonging. If the limitation ignores you or brings in other thoughts to sabotage the process, simply bring your awareness back to your Sacred Safe Place and begin again.
- Fulfill the Need. Once you learn what this limitation needs, then notice if you can provide what it needs. You can do this by imagining a color or energy associated with the need then surrounding the self-sabotaging limitation with this color or energy. Or perhaps there are practical steps that will fulfill the need of the limitation, ultimately dissolving it over time. Such as taking baths at night to release the limitation of "not enough time to take care of yourself.”
Whether the self-sabotaging limitation began with a parent, friend, or from society, you're the one that lives with it, day in and day out. And you don't have too. There's no reason to keep a rat in the basement of your house simply because it's been there for awhile. By following these steps, you begin to release the attachments to these patterns, emotions, and beliefs. Allowing more freedom to authentically be who you are, as a divine being, in every moment of the day.
1 Information connecting certain behaviors with specific phases of childhood can be found in two fabulous books: Barbara Ann Brennan's Light Emerging and Steven Kessler's The 5 Personality Patterns
How much freedom and self-confidence would you gain by shifting one of your beliefs, habits, or patterns right now?
Please share a comment about your experiences with self-sabotaging limiting beliefs and/or ways you've successfully worked with transforming them. If you try the steps above, please share how this process worked for shifting your relationship with a limiting belief, habit, or pattern.