9 common limiting beliefs that are holding you back from success (and how to overcome)

It’s not that you don’t have goals, but you have several limiting beliefs that hold you back from going forward with full force. 

You probably know what to do, but there are so many “what ifs” that come along with your ideas that you are stuck and paralyzed from taking action. 

You finally feel like giving up, but your dreams don’t let you either.

so, how to overcome the limiting beliefs?

It can be your business or creative abilities that you are trying to grow. But these limiting beliefs keep you stuck. 

And what is a belief?

It is a thought that you had in your mind that you repeated so many times that it became a truth for you. When you truly believe something, you act only from the perspective of that belief. You can’t think higher than that because you won’t believe yourself if you think so.

Now, read that again to let it really sink in. 

If you think you can’t sing, will you ever make an attempt to sing? No. Because your mind has already decided that you can’t. 

Behind every limiting belief, there is a thought that entered your mind once. You either formed it yourself or people fed it to you through their own belief system. Which, again can be true or false. Because the same quality in a person can be interpreted by two people in two different ways. For one person, you might seem to have a good personality. But for some other, you might not come across as special. 

Beliefs can be changed anytime, no matter how old you are. Like the negative beliefs turned into negative thought patterns over time, you can start running positive beliefs and form new patterns. 

I have compiled a list of the most common limiting beliefs, which are the following. 

  1. I am not good enough / I am not loveable / I am not worthy
  2. I am not qualified for the job
  3. It’s possible for them, not for me
  4. All opportunities are taken
  5. I am not ready because I need to fix __________
  6. I don’t have time
  7. I will be judged
  8. What if I fail
  9. It’s too late

Let’s dive in and see how we can overcome each of these limiting beliefs. 

1. I am not good enough / I am not loveable / I am not worthy

So many of us struggle with the belief of not being good enough. But how do we decide we are not good enough? It happens most probably because of the comparisons we do with others. And sometimes, it’s the society that does the comparisons. Or if you grew up with constant criticisms you would be thinking low about yourself. 

And we repeat the thought so many times to ourselves that it becomes a belief. 

How to overcome this limiting belief?

If you were chosen to be born in this world, you are good enough. Take for the case of when you were just a sperm and an egg ready to fuse. The single sperm had to fight millions of other sperms to enter the egg and form the unique human being, the unique combination, that is you. 

No mistake has been made and you have been born the way you were supposed to be. 

Just being born in this world makes you worthy to live here. You deserve love like anyone else. It’s not your mistake that other people can’t see the goodness in you. And no one can or should tell you that you don’t deserve love. 

And stop comparing your talents and bodies to other people. If everyone looked the same, how can you remain your unique self? Facial features and beauty can get you only so much. It’s the beauty of your heart that makes you great. It’s not how you look, but rather what you do makes you unique. Or else people like Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking or Nick Vujicic would not have been able to do great things in the world with their physical limitations. 

When you compare yourself with others, you are comparing your weakness with their strength. You might not have the same strength as the other person, but you have strengths that they don’t have. Focus on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses as you are meant to excel there. 

Related: 125 brilliant inspirational quotes on loving yourself

How to overcome limiting beliefs- a woman sitting in a car

2. I am not qualified for the job

You have this constant belief that you were just lucky to have got this job and that someday you could be exposed for being a fraud. 

These feelings are sometimes part of an issue called imposter syndrome. You believe you will be exposed as an imposter someday. And that you don’t really deserve the praises you receive for your accomplishments. You believe you just got lucky. 

This belief often stems from the feelings of perfectionism and the belief that you have to be an expert in order to do a job. Imposter syndrome is extremely common and even the most successful people can have it. 

How to overcome this belief?

Know that you don’t have to be perfect or an expert in your field to start giving value to others. 

You don’t become perfect overnight or someone doesn’t hand over the “expert” badge to you one fine day. You can keep learning and grow your knowledge at the same time as providing value through your services. 

Moreover, you can never start if you wait for being perfect. You learn through your mistakes and for that, you have to start from where you are. 

And no expert knows all the answers about his subject. We are all work in progress. 

The fact that you know something more than others makes you qualified. 

When you feel stuck again due to imposter syndrome, remind yourself about all your strengths and how far you have come. An unqualified person does not receive appreciation. If someone appreciates your work, they are not lying, it’s because you truly have the ability in you. 

3. It’s possible for them, not for me

This limiting belief occurs because of low self-esteem. When you look at other people who are performing better than you in your office or business, you think they are smarter than you. Or they are luckier or have more resources than you. 

Your subconscious mind believes there is something about them that helps them succeed that you don’t have. 

How to overcome this belief?

Change your thinking.

 Instead of thinking “It’s possible for them, not for me”, tell yourself, “If it’s possible for them, it’s possible for me too”. 

There is no difference between you and them other than the difference you see in your mind. You have not reached where they are only because you are letting your limiting belief hold you back. 

In fact, you are doing a disservice to others by holding yourself back, by not giving what you can offer. 

You have everything you need inside you. The limiting belief you have is your ego which is trying to protect you from any harm that could happen if you follow the unknown. 

So, start asking yourself, “If they can, why can’t I?”

It will cause a shift inside you and things will start changing. You will start seeing opportunities instead of obstacles. You will get a taste of your potential and what you can offer. 

4. All opportunities are taken

When you feel the desire to create something and put it out there, it can seem like everyone is doing it. 

You might feel like you wouldn’t be able to earn a place for yourself because everyone is doing it. If everyone is doing the same thing, who will listen to me? Or who will buy from me? Or who will hire me?

How to overcome this limiting belief?

You feel your field is saturated because you have your attention there. It’s a general rule that what you think about all the time, appears more in your reality. 

It’s like when you think about buying a book, you see people mentioning this book everywhere. If you decide to become a vegan, you see resources that help you learn about veganism appearing everywhere. 

How many times has it happened to you that you were thinking about going to a specific place, and after some time you see someone’s Instagram post from the same location?

It is no coincidence. But it’s the work of a system in your brain called Reticular Activating System (RAS). 

Your brain is subjected to a lot of data and information at any given moment. You need only the ones that are important for you. So RAS does the wonderful job of filtering everything else out. 

That’s why you see opportunities and information appearing on your path as soon as you focus on a specific topic.  

Therefore, when you are thinking about becoming an engineer or a life coach, all you see are engineers and life coaches. It can seem like everyone is doing the same thing and your industry is saturated.

But remember, there are about 8 billion people in the world. And what you see is only a small fraction of people who are doing the same thing as you, only because your brain is filtering out others. 

And even if there are a lot of people doing it, they cannot help everyone. So you have your space too. You, as a person is different from others, and therefore your voice is different and your impact is different. 

There will be people who would be attracted to your style, and not to others who do the same job.

How to overcome limiting beliefs- a man working on a laptop

5. I am not ready because I need to fix __________

The limiting belief that you are not ready now, but you will be ready after your house is built, or after you lose weight, or after your business earns X dollars is a lie.

Your mind gives you reasons to procrastinate because of fear. When you have to get out of your comfort zone to go in the direction of your dreams, your ego appears. It gives you all the reasons you shouldn’t do it now because chances are, you might fail as you don’t have the desired qualities. 

So you are convinced you will have much better chances to succeed once you change something about you or when your situation changes.

How to overcome this belief?

There is never going to be the right time to do something. At any given point of time, some areas of your life would be doing excellent while you could be facing challenges in other areas.

That’s the way life works. So if you are going to wait for it to be over, you will be wasting your time and then your life. 

So start where you are. I know growing out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable. It is painful to put yourself out there. 

Your ego will try to fight with you to put you back in the safe zone. But you know better. You know there is no way out than going through it. 

If you are not ready to take the pain, it means you do not truly desire it. If you do, better go through the discomfort right now than later. Your future self will thank you for taking action sooner than later. 

6. I don’t have time

There are so many items on your bucket list. It can seem like you will never get those done because of the commitments you have right now. 

The limiting belief that “I don’t have time” restricts us from trying new things that we truly want to. Be it the desire to start a hobby or a side hustle, or establishing better habits like exercise or meditation practice.

But there are people who accomplish everything they want in their day. I have seen people who have day jobs and kids running successful online businesses in their spare time, even if it’s by working only an hour per day.

So, how can you overcome the limiting belief?

Stop telling yourself or anyone that you don’t have time. If you can identify your priorities in life, you will make time for it in your day no matter what. You don’t need to spend hours and hours in a day for it, but if you can spend even a half an hour consistently, it can move you closer to your goals. 

And if you have time to use social media, you have time for your priorities too. 

The reason we don’t get enough time in the modern world is, we are all distracted more than ever. The constant pinging of our phones, or even the fear of missing out on checking the “fake” perfect demonstrations of life on Instagram, all make us lose our focus more than ever. 

Doing three things can get you more time in your day.

  1. Set your priorities – It involves identifying and scheduling the most important tasks you need to do each day.
  2. Manage your energy – You can have all the time in the world, but if you don’t have the energy, you get nothing done. Try to get proper sleep, exercise and follow a healthy diet.
  3. Developing laser-sharp focus – Use time management techniques like Pomodoro and restrict smartphone usage to a certain time in the day instead of checking every 15 minutes. 


How to overcome limiting beliefs- a woman wearing headphones

7. I will be judged

I get this fear whenever I want to get out of my comfort zone and do something new. The fear of others judging my work and being ridiculed makes me freeze from taking action. 

I have been working on it and I find the fear getting smaller over time. This limiting belief prevents you from following your dreams because you think you will be ridiculed or judged if you fail. 

How to overcome this limiting belief?

I used to take whatever comment anyone said about me seriously. I thought what they were portraying was the real me. As a child, you tend to believe what the adults say and take it as a definite truth. It took me a long time to dig in and find my true worth. As I said, still working on it.

People criticize you all the time, no matter how good you behave. 

My fear started decreasing when I learned that other people do not get to decide who I am. Their opinions don’t make or break me. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know what I want from my life. I should live my life and not theirs. 

People will always have an opinion. If you think what you do is right, nothing else should matter. 

Related: 7 tips to stop worrying about what people think and live freely

8. What if I fail

I think this self-doubt has nipped so many dreams in the bud than any other fear. 

It is normal to have self-doubts about a new venture or if it is something you have never done before. But the only way successful people get ahead is by acknowledging this fear. 

Fear of “what if it doesn’t work out” can plague you before you make any crucial decision in life. 

So how can we overcome this fear?

I have one trick when it comes to facing fears. I know I feel fear and I acknowledge it. And then I ask one question, 

What would happen if I don’t go ahead with this now?

Then all the visuals pass through my mind where I can see my future self yearning for something better in life. I can see myself stuck in the same place even after 5 years. And I can’t bear that. I better go ahead with the thing I fear now and see where it takes me. 

At least I won’t regret later about not trying. I won’t wonder about the “what-ifs” on my deathbed.

I had the same fear of failure when I started this blog. I wondered who would read what I wanted to write. But I still went ahead anyway. And now I feel proud when people say they loved any of my blog articles and it helped them. And I know many people won’t like what I write. And I am okay with that.

In fact, I have eliminated the word “failure” from my dictionary. Because there are no failures in life, there are only lessons. 

Lessons of what works and what doesn’t. If something doesn’t work, great! Now you can try a different method. 

If you have a bombed project, then also it’s great. Because you tried and put in the effort. That shows your strength and love for life. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t try to achieve anything in life. It shows you are alive and you are learning. Failures (or lessons) are just small bumps on your path. 

They don’t define you. They teach you and direct you towards better things. 

Related: 10 life lessons that will change your life in a year

9. It’s too late

“I am too old to change my ways”,  or “It’s too late to start now” is a belief that many people have. 

I am in awe of people who graduate in their nineties or travel the world in their eighties. You might have heard about the story of Colonel Sanders who founded KFC in his sixties and became wildly successful with the idea. It shows that nothing is impossible for you at any age if you have the will to succeed. 

How can you overcome this limiting belief?

There is no timeline for the various milestones in life. Who decides these timelines anyway?

There is no age limit to doing anything you want in life. 

Yuichiro Miura wouldn’t have become the oldest man to climb the Mount Everest at the age of 80 if he decided it was too late. 

He achieved the feat despite having a shattered pelvis and having undergone four heart surgeries. 

It is the zest, the passion for life that makes people follow their passions at any age. You are never too old or too young to do anything you want in life. 

You are always the right age to follow your dreams. 

How do you think has limiting beliefs restricted growth and success in your life? What are some of the limiting beliefs that are holding you back?

Let me know in the comments below.

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How to overcome limiting beliefs- a woman walking with a backpack

4 thoughts on “9 common limiting beliefs that are holding you back from success (and how to overcome)”

  1. Thank you for writing this article. I have reached a point in my life where my limiting self doubts and fear have debilitated me so much that I resigned from my job (due to being bullied) and being in a very difficult, exhausting relationship. I’ve shut down on the world. Your article really resonates with me and has answered a few self doubting questions I had about myself.

    1. I can relate to your comment of shutting down completely because of self doubt and fear over work. I’m currently trying to get back to work because even almost losing my home didn’t snap me out of this depression. I was bullelied in school, Im always the target for colleagues to get me fired, I’ve never had any support or guidance in my life and losing my job just made me question everything. I’m lost and want acceptance, a purpose, a mentor to just feel a human connection with life. Any tips on what I can do to help??

      1. Hi Kayla!

        This fear of being judged is huge for many people. As I said, I have had it for the longest time. And the reason I started slowly coming out of it is by doing inner work. As you said, working with mentors will put on the fast track to healing and that’s what I am doing too.

        Those who have come out of this and the coaches who work with a lot of people can identify blind spots that you cannot see yet. Therefore, working with a mentor or taking an online course where you will get constant one-on-one support is a great idea.

        You doubt yourself because at some level you may be believing you don’t deserve success or you are not worthy enough. It must have stemmed from your childhood experiences where people made you feel bad about yourself. But the truth is, none of it has anything to do with your true worth.

        People view others as who they are. They can only meet you at the level they are from. And you created stories around your childhood experiences because you believed what everyone said about you. If they had said good things about you, you would have accepted that and you would have been confident because that’s the story you chose to believe.

        Ultimately, it all comes down to the story you tell yourself about you from the experiences you had. And the best part is, you can still choose what story you want to tell yourself moving forward.

        It’s your beliefs that are holding you back. You can change the old beliefs by constantly reaffirming new empowering beliefs and thus change your life.

        All the best for your healing and keep in touch!

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