If you hold these 7 beliefs, you’re holding yourself back in life

Even the most successful and driven people often fall prey to limiting beliefs that hold them back from reaching their fullest potential.

Is it possible that external factors aren’t the only things holding you back?

Cliche as it may seem, you may really be your own worst enemy.

So if you find yourself holding some or all of these 7 beliefs, it’s a sure sign you’re holding yourself back from your best self and greatest life possible.

1) “I need to explore ALL my options”

The Paradox of Choice or Optionality is “the overwhelming feeling of having too many options for life choices and feeling like choosing one means giving up the rest.”

This is the feeling explored in the Bell Jar by the novelist, poet, and writer Sylvia Plath when she said,

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree…

“One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide.”

While having choices is always a good thing to have, exploring all your options in the belief that it will help you make better decisions and help you attain your best self is really holding you back.

It burns up all your energy, mental capacity, and you waste time because you are paralyzed.

What you can do:

  • Remind yourself of what Milan Kundera said: “There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes.”
  • When push comes to shove, a coin toss is better than not making a choice at all.
  • Whatever choice you land on, let go of fear and trust that you have the capacity to make the most out of it, no matter what.

2) “I’ve got to face reality.”

As a researcher and writer, I love facts. Being fully aware of what’s happening in reality all across the country and the world is something I pride myself on.

But when it comes to the goals I want to achieve for myself, I find myself dwelling on the numbers, statistics, and thoughts of the dominant majority—kind of conforming because it’s the “wise” thing to do.

For instance, because reality and facts say being a full-time artist means struggling, I ended up ditching my grandiose dreams of making art 10 hours a day.

Instead, I bury myself in work for fear that I won’t be able to pay rent. Pursuing art seems foolish for most people and there should be a reason for it, after all.

But there is truth in the saying that “Realism is nothing more than a socially accepted form of pessimism.”

What you can do:

  • While getting a good look at the current situation is a good idea, you can balance it by finding case studies and examples of people who succeeded in a similar path.
  • Find a mentor. Finding someone who knows the field you want to pursue is a good strategy along with reading up books and biographies of trailblazers to keep you motivated and inspired. Taking advice from those who failed or those who aren’t familiar with what you are doing, even if they are in a similar practice, is like asking directions from someone who got lost or doesn’t even know where you are going.

3) “I need to prove myself”

When I was younger, I wanted to prove myself to my parents. But as I got older, it felt like the list of people to prove myself to was never-ending.

From my career colleagues to relatives of my partners, the world started feeling like it was out to get me.

It was so stressful to keep up appearances and always be on my A-game 24/7 just so people would think I’m worthy.

But this kind of pressure is toxic. Although we need some motivation to prove how good we are at something, it’s better to forget impressing other people when you’re thinking about success.

The only person you should be trying to impress is yourself, after all. Doing things just to impress others is a total waste of time—and yes, it will hold you back decades.

What you can do:

  • Take some time to get honest with yourself and then come up with your own standards of success for your own life. If, say, a corner office is the definition of success for your college friends, and you realize that your version is working from home, then embrace that.
  • Ask yourself, “Do I really want to pursue my career and life goals because that’s what I truly want or I’m just doing it so others will think I’m successful?”

4) “Rest is for the weak”

pic1230 If you hold these 7 beliefs, you’re holding yourself back in life

If you’ve been pulling all-nighters for the majority of your life and are now asking the heavens in frustration, “Why don’t I still have much to show for all my sacrifice and hard work except for deeper and darker eyebags?!”

Stop it. It’s holding you back.

As Arianna Huffington explains in her book, The Sleep Revolution, “Getting enough sleep is vital to our physical and spiritual wellbeing.”

Science proves that a good night’s sleep and naps are excellent not just for the body but for mental performance as well. I make better decisions and I produce much better work when I’m well rested.

What you can do:

  • Instead of powering through when you are exhausted, whenever possible, take a 20-minute nap.
  • At night, begin a sleep routine and wind down by staying away from your gadgets as early as you can, or an hour at the minimum before bed.

5) “I need to do it on my own”

The myth of independence is really related to ego because all of us were designed to be in interdependence, helping each other out.

The need to do it all on your own is also likely holding you back because it’s keeping you away from valuable mentorship and support by good people.

Instead of being a valued team member or a respected leader, you may also come off as difficult to work with, with a low capacity to collaborate and grow with others.

I get it, it’s not easy to trust and be let down, so you probably have some trauma around trusting other people…but you can’t go far if you go alone, so you have to trust.

It could take you years to accomplish something alone, but only a few months if you collaborate with others. Loosen the shackles of independence and know that you have always been deserving of support.

What you can do:

  • Ask yourself what kind of support you would honestly want to receive from others but have been too afraid to ask.
  • Convince yourself that asking for help is badass. Let go of “The Critic” in your head that is calling you weak or stupid for needing help.
  • Help others. This way you would realize again and again that asking for help shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, do you think the people who ask from you are stupid or weak? Of course not.

6) “I will start once I’m good enough”

“I’m smart but I’m not yet smart enough to start a business”, you must have expressed not just once out of frustration.

Or “I’m still not deep and experienced enough to make a movie or write a book.”

This is the Achilles heel of high-achieving and intelligent people. Even with MBAs or PhDs, they still feel like they need to gather even more credentials and study more to get good enough.

Meanwhile, other people with far less knowledge are doing it already while you waste time on believing you aren’t good enough and so you invest more time and money on further studies.

Bukowski said, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts and the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

So if you want to help the world (and yourself), remove your doubts! You’re more than ready.

What you can do:

  • Release your need to know absolutely everything before you start doing what you want.
  • If you want to be a writer, train at it like an athlete would and aim for reasonable goals, say 2 pages a day.
  • Be inspired by people who are doing things even if they’re not yet good enough. If they can do it, you most certainly can do it, too!

7)  “I need to fix/heal myself first”

Chakra healing, past life regression, tarot, ice cold plunges, yoga, and detox retreat—name it and you’ve most likely tried it and are already seeking the next one.

Of course, when you’re sick or suffered trauma, you definitely need therapy and time for recovery.

The problem though is when it becomes a crutch to the point that you end up too focused on your brokenness that it becomes the end-all and be-all of your entire life.

Yes, mental health is important. Yes, trauma is real. But you have to push yourself to still function and work on your goals because no one else can do it for you.

And, if you really think about it, we all have something to fix in ourselves. But we move forward as we do it. That’s the only way to go.

What you can do:

  • If you are struggling with setbacks and trauma, seek the support of experts.
  • Still, don’t let this work keep you from taking the first steps to achieve goals you set out for yourself.
  • Let your pain, challenges, and misery work for you. Rewire your mind so that you turn your challenges into a source of motivation.

Final thoughts

When we think of what makes one successful, we often think of obvious traits— being hardworking, waking up early, having the ability to multitask.

We often overlook what’s inside. Most of us miss acknowledging that how we think and what we believe is a huge factor in achieving success.

If you have self-limiting beliefs, you’re mostly going to hold yourself back in life.

If you can relate yourself to the seven beliefs above, chances are that you’re your own worst enemy.

Release the fear of needing to be perfect and these limiting beliefs and you will be one step closer to success.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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