11 Limiting Beliefs That Seriously Hold You Back In Life

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If you struggle with understanding how to love yourself, you might accidentally be holding yourself back with negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.

Being able to practice self-love and raise your self-esteem isn't just something you need to do to feel good about yourself — it's a pivotal part of escaping the feeling of being "stuck" in your life.

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Everyone gets stuck at one time or another thinking the worst, ruminating over inadequacies, or wishing for something to change. It makes us human. What you do when this happens is what makes the difference between breaking down or staying stuck.

Your thoughts become words. Words turn into actions. Your repeated actions become habits, and those habits can either raise or lower your self-esteem.

Good habits serve to move you forward and expose you to opportunities to feel good about yourself. Bad habits just make you feel bad and can keep you stuck in a rut.

If you’re mired in thoughts and patterns that make you feel bad or defeated, it's tough to get motivated to do something about it.

Believe it or not, you can change your thoughts and create a new cycle that leads to words, actions, and habits that will motivate you to start living again.

It starts there because, like anything else, until you acknowledge that there is a problem, there's no way to find a solution. Admitting that something has you treading water with no land in sight is the first step.

The second step is discovering the pattern of thoughts or behaviors that caused it. For most of us, it’s not just one demon — they come in teams!

Here are 11 limiting beliefs and thoughts you might have that are keeping you from embracing your true self:

1. "I can't do anything right."

This may be a pervasive feeling across all of the roles you play, or it may be restricted to one area while you're just fine in another.

For instance, something may have happened years ago that made you feel not good enough. Over the years since, you’ve struggled to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with life partners.

While this is an area of life where you feel inadequate, your professional life may be very successful and rewarding.

2. "I have to be perfect."

Since perfection is in the eye of the beholder, this one sets an expectation that's impossible to achieve. This need for everything around you to be perfect perpetuates the feeling of not being good enough.

When you strive for perfection in all you do, how you look, where you live and work, you're asking yourself to be super-human. Now, that’s a deep ditch.

3. "I've got to do everything."

You may have many roles to play: Wife, mother, daughter, aunt, employee, boss, friend, mentor, confidante, etc. Are there others for you?

Each role requires your energy, time, effort, and commitment. Some of these roles may be easier than others, while others feel hard and less manageable. With too many plates spinning at once, some may wobble until you spin it again, and some may fall.

This repeating pattern of juggling priorities may cause you to dig yourself deeper, rather than allow you to breathe and cut yourself a break.

4. "Am I being a people pleaser?"

When you put everyone else’s happiness, comfort, and desires ahead of your own, there's never enough left for you. You get stuck thinking your partner, boss, children, friends, or family should come first.

That may be the way you were raised. It's likely a long-standing belief ingrained in your habits. It may not be your fault, but you can change.

5. "I have to be in control of everything."

It takes too long to train someone else. I can do it better myself. It will take less time if I do it. I know it will be done right.

Have you ever said things like this? Then you’re probably a control freak. It's a major block to get over when you can’t ask for help or, when offered, you refuse to take it.

These thoughts and behaviors can keep you mired in a place that doesn’t allow you to make headway. There are only so many hours in the day, so when you keep doing all the things someone else could help you do, you can’t do more or better.

6. "I'll get that done later."

Procrastination can be a major boulder blocking the entrance to your rut. It can stop you from moving up and out because it’s a heavy one to move.

Over-thinking can lead to analysis-paralysis, which can lead to getting nothing done fast. More times than not, you can drag some pretty serious thought patterns into your rut as you try to get out of your own way. Not knowing what to do first can prevent you from doing anything at all.

Be careful. In this state, depression can set in.

7. "I have to keep up with everyone else."

It's hard to meet everyone else’s expectations of you when it doesn’t feel like the real you are showing up. Pretending to be someone you’re not just to fit in is exhausting. It also feels inauthentic.

A habit like this creates thought patterns that can make you feel like a fraud. A constant diet of this will leave you struggling to know who you are.

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8. "Why am I always so scared?"

Approaching life from a place of fear will defeat you before you start. It can also be used as an excuse to stay stuck right where you are.

Fear will never go away completely because it's an emotion designed to protect you. How you manage the fear is key to redirecting the feeling that comes up so it can serve to propel you rather than curtail you.

9. "It's not really my fault, it's..."

Laying blame, on someone else or some circumstance that happened, as the reason you can’t do what you want/need to do is one of the surest ways to hang out in that rut longer than you should. If it’s not your fault, it's someone else’s.

If it’s someone else’s, then there's a good reason to stay stuck where you are. Someone else is holding you back. If this is you, it might be time to take back some control.

10. "I just can't do this."

Negative thinking will limit your progress better than almost any other pattern or habit in the book. That boulder blocking the entrance won’t ever move because you don’t believe you can move it.

This “half-empty” view stifles your enthusiasm. It's difficult to solve problems creatively when you're not looking for evidence that they can be solved.

11. "I'll never be able to get out of this."

You may struggle with just one of these patterns of thinking, or several of them may hold you back.

Regardless of it’s one or more, the fact is feeling stuck by any of them is a mindset. And you can change your mind if you want to.

Consider this: you get to choose your habits and thoughts. They don’t have to choose you unless you let them.

Here is a simple process that may help you change your thoughts and habits so they can serve you better and become the steps for climbing out of your rut:

  • Identify the habit or pattern of thinking that has you stuck.
  • Ask yourself: "Where did this come from? Do I still believe this? Does it serve me well today to believe this? Do I want to change this?"
  • If the answer is "Yes," set an intention to change it, and believe that you can.
  • What if you didn’t have this habit or way of thinking, what would your life be like instead?
  • Who else would benefit if you changed it?
  • How could you change this habit or thought pattern to benefit you more today?
  • Write about your new habit or thought pattern as if it has already changed. What are you doing differently? How are people responding to this new and improved way of thinking and behaving?
  • Own it. Practice it. Catch yourself each time you slip back into the old pattern and take corrective action immediately. Focus on your new behaviors and integrate them into your daily life.
  • Ask for help if you need it at any point along the way.

To overcome the blocks that keep you stuck, you need to first recognize the thought patterns and habits holding you back. Understanding that you're not relegated to staying stuck in those patterns is the next step out of your rut. Choosing to make the changes in mindset and deciding what you want to think instead will create new positive habits that will improve your life and relationships.

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María Tomás-Keegan is a certified career and life coach for women, and the founder of Transition & Thrive with María.