What we believe about ourselves and others in the world can have a profound impact on our lives.

Recognizing and “busting” limiting beliefs

is foundational to living a healthy and fulfilling life, yet so often we work against ourselves with the subtle and not so subtle messages we have embraced as truth.

These messages come from a variety of places, and are problematic because the things we believe are directly tied to the actions we take or don’t take in school, work, and relationships.

While some limiting beliefs are easy to identify and bust, others begin to be a part of our identity and we start to believe they reflect the core of who we are. Those negative beliefs are the most painful and most critical to deal with right away.

How do we identify and begin to rid ourselves of beliefs that hold us back?

  1. Recognize negative thoughts and ask yourself or the student/s in your life where the belief came from.
  2. Ask yourself or the student/s in your life how that belief is helping you or holding you back.
  3. If it’s holding you back, what do you want to do about it?
  4. Create a positive belief that counteracts the limiting belief and cement it with an action to make a habit of thinking truth.

Here are some examples and samples of what the process might look like:

  1. Limiting Belief: If you are a (insert family name) you will have trouble making decisions. (Generational message passed onto a student)
  2. New Belief: I know who I am and what is important to me, so I can make a decision.
  3. Action: Write I CAN DECIDE on a sticky note and put it on the mirror as a daily reminder.
  1. Limiting Belief: I can’t trust anyone. People always let me down. (Lonely student)
  2. New Belief: Choosing friends who are trustworthy will fill a need and help me move forward.
  3. Action: Create a list of trustworthy characteristics and purposely start conversations with three people during the week that exhibit those character traits.
  1. Limiting Belief: ADD is a deficiency one must learn to compensate for. (Parent)
  2. New Belief: The pace is fast, fun, and creative. Those with ADD possess unique strengths and abilities.
  3. Action: Take 15 minutes each day to laugh with, delight in, and simply enjoy the uniqueness of your son or daughter.
  1. Limiting Belief: I could never go to college. That just wouldn’t be me. (Foster kiddo doing great in school)
  2. New Belief: I’m a good student and have the ability to pursue my dreams.
  3. Action: Define your dreams specifically and concretely.  Consider what it will take to achieve them. If a degree is required, choose a way to remind yourself daily you are a good student and have the ability to pursue your dreams.

The real work with limiting beliefs is recognizing them and how they are holding you back. Once that has been accomplished, building new mental habits around truth is often a fairly seamless and rewarding step toward the things most important in school, work and relationships.


Thanks for checking out my blog! Busting limiting beliefs is an Academic Life Coaching concept. I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.