From deep-seated ideas about yourself that carry forward from childhood, to rigid concepts that are imposed by longstanding, cultural values, limiting beliefs come in many forms, and shape the stories we tell ourselves about what's possible. Over time, we can become conditioned to thought patterns that may be experienced as a discouraging inner voice and mindset.
With help from Omega's teachers, we explore five ways to identify—and overcome—the beliefs that might be holding you back.
- Recognize beliefs or fears that no longer work. In her book Adventures for Your Soul, Shannon Kaiser tells her personal story of how her beliefs and fear were stopping her from moving forward. Shannon says you can eradicate limiting beliefs by getting to the core of when the beliefs were created. Here, Shannon leads a practice to help us release what no longer works, and to welcome guidance to receive more joy, success, and health.
Once we know our patterns, Shannon says, we can break up with them, if we are willing. Then, we create space to call in those things that our heart is calling us to do.
- Determine how attached you are to any one belief. In this episode of Omega's award-winning podcast, Dropping In, Mexican-American author and shaman don Miguel Ruiz Jr. describes guideposts for gauging how attached we are to any particular belief, whether it belongs to us or someone else. In an excerpt from his workshop, Don Miguel encourages you to use wisdom teachings—such as examining the nature of truth—to regain power over your own choices.
- Unplug from social media and societal conditioning to reconnect to your own values and sense of belonging. Sebene Selassie, a meditation teacher and author of You Belong: A Call for Connection, is leading people on an exploration of their own conditioning. We need to recognize that our conditioning is a pattern of society that has been handed down to us through generations, she says. At the same time, systems of domination and control are fed to us through media, social media, and more.
How can you unplug from that, to reconnect to your own values? Sebene suggests you ground yourself first by finding a way to build a contemplative practice, such as mindfulness. As you become aware of what’s happening in the heart, brain, and mind, ask yourself, “What are my needs? What am I really feeling? What’s really going on for me? How can I best be in integrity to respond to that?
- Bust the myth that you always have to be liked. Psychotherapist and author of The Emotionally Exhausted Woman Nancy Colier says freeing ourselves from societal norms can help us break through limiting beliefs. Her work focuses on the myth women are taught as young girls to be kind above all else, take care of others, to keep the peace at their own expense. This “likeability cage” becomes part of girls’ limiting belief system around age 12 or 13.
There is a big problem with likeability, says Nancy: It doesn’t mesh with authenticity. If we are truthful with ourselves, if we're competent and we speak up for our own needs, we might not be so likeable or pleasing. Nancy suggests we can bust out of the likeability cage with what she calls “the big turnaround: turning back toward ourselves, to start to choose authenticity over likeability.
- Cleanse your body to cleanse your mind. Naturopathic physician Dr. Tom Francescott says our thoughts are affected just as much as our physical body by the toxins and chemicals that we are exposed to daily.
Cleansing fosters a new way of being in the world, says Dr. Tom. When you give yourself a pause with a detox—reducing your intake of toxins and shifting to nature’s colorful medicines, fruits and vegetables—you lighten what your body has to process so it can rest. You then have the opportunity to rewire your brain and forge new neural pathways. It becomes easier to let go of lifelong beliefs and auto-pilot thoughts when you are less inflamed and feel nourished and calm.
Once you've singled out the systems in your life that aren't working in your favor, they begin to lose their power over you. Then as you practice releasing those long-held patterns and old habits, life looks different and more open to possibility and purpose.
“When your beliefs don’t limit you anymore, they free you,” Shannon Kaiser says.