Here are 10 limiting beliefs that can sneak up on stepparents and sabotage your happiness in your home. Plus some ideas of what you can do to get past them.
Before we get into these beliefs let me back up and explain what that means.
As a life coach, I throw the words limiting belief around like everybody knows what it means. You may not.
I get that. I really do. This is because I didn’t understand it for a long time.
In fact, for a long time when I heard people talk about limiting beliefs or mindset blocks or even subconscious beliefs I thought it was nonsense. I didn’t think it was a real thing.
I’ve changed my mind about that but it took me a long time to get there so if I can help you move through it a little faster I’d love to be able to do that.
What is a limiting belief?
As I already mentioned I did not understand this when I first heard about it.
I changed my mind after learning from a lot of people who all work with this concept in different ways. That list includes reading books by philosophers, working with therapists, life coaches, religious advisors, neuroscientists and probably more.
None of them really spoke about it or talked about it in the same way but over years and years I came to realize that many people were teaching and using a very similar concept which boils down to limiting beliefs.
A limiting belief is simply a thought that when we believe it then we don’t consider other options. Not considering any other options is the limit or the block.
Is that clear?
You might get this right away.
Or maybe not. Let’s back up some more. In order for me to understand how beliefs could be limits I had to figure out what beliefs were and how they impacted what I saw as my choices.
What’s a belief?
A belief is a thought that we don’t question.
We don’t question it for a lot of reasons. Usually we have a lot of evidence that it’s true. Evidence that can be from a lifetime of having people tell us the same thing over and over.
Also limiting beliefs are often set up when we’re young. The reason for that is pretty obvious – we don’t question much of anything when we’re young.
These beliefs feel like facts.
These feel like truths in our lives.
Except at the root they are just thoughts.
I’ll give you an example. Maybe growing up your parents told you not to try spicy foods. Perhaps they said, “oooh you won’t like that it’s spicy.”
Now as an adult you believe that you don’t like spicy food. So you never even consider trying it. You go to happy hour after work and your friends suggest ordering spicy buffalo wings and without a thought you say, no thank you because you don’t even consider trying them, You believe you don’t like spicy food.
The belief all by itself limits your behavior.
Beliefs can feel absolute
Beliefs are great topics of conversation because there is truly no right or wrong.
They are personal. I might believe that spicy food is amazing and you might disagree and we are both correct. Yes, completely opposite opinions at the same time … no right or wrong.
Humans have fought over beliefs probably since the beginning of humanity. I wasn’t around then so I can’t really say for sure that this is true but it’s a guess that I have.
If you believe that chocolate is delicious and somebody else believes that it’s gross you can both be correct.
Okay so my examples so far have both been food. Pretty low conflict examples.
Here are some examples that are more controversial.
- XYZ is the best country to live in.
- XYZ is the best political party.
- XYZ is the best taco restaurant.
- XYZ is the only true religion of the world.
Those are beliefs. People can insert what they want into the spot for XYZ. The answer won’t always be the same.
When we talk about shifting or adjusting or changing limiting beliefs keep in mind that it’s just a choice and a choice that you get to make. I guess it’s worth mentioning here that other people get to choose their own beliefs. These may not match with ours. I personally find it helpful to remember that if I can think my beliefs are absolute so can other people.
How can some beliefs limit our options?
If you have a belief that makes it impossible to believe other things then the belief by itself may prevent you from doing, trying or even thinking about other options.
Here are some examples.
If you think you hate spicy food you cannot also think spicy food is delicious.
The more common version of that is if you think green vegetables are gross you won’t even put any green vegetables on your plate to try them.
If you think that Rap music is bad then you probably won’t ever even try to listen to a station that plays that music.
If you think that a news station tells bad news you may not ever look there for information.
Simply holding the thought as an unquestioned belief knocks out the other possibilities.
If you think that vegetarianism is the only healthy eating pattern then it’s tough to believe that lean protein from animals is good for you.
If you think that the funniest comedians are men then you may not try to be a comedian if you’re a woman.
If you think that all doctors are men then you may not look at becoming a doctor as a woman.
If you think science is hard then you may not choose to try a hard science class.
If you think people from xyz country are rude you may not look to go there for vacation.
You are probably getting the idea.
What makes finding limiting beliefs tricky
We don’t question beliefs because we think they are absolutely true.
We don’t even see them because we absorb these beliefs into who we are and what we know.
That’s why people will describe finding limiting beliefs as digging them up or uncovering them.
They can be invisible to us because we are not aware of our own limits. We are not conscious of these ideas in our own heads. This is what makes them subconscious. They are deep in our concept of how we see our own world.
Sometimes these can even show up as part of our identity.
What’s more they feel right and good and true and like they are a part of us.
We don’t find these thoughts usually because we aren’t looking for them at all. Even when we are looking for them it’s hard to see them in ourselves.
Limiting beliefs are sometimes called blocks.
You might hear coaches talk about mindset blocks and this is the same or very similar to limiting beliefs. The idea or concept is that thinking is limiting or blocking our progress.
Another thing that I have found makes finding limiting beliefs is that when we uncover them we may be resistant to admitting to ourselves that we have that belief. The belief is sometimes foundational to our understanding of how things come together and it can be a little scary to question them.
This is why a coach who helps us see our thoughts with an outside perspective can be helpful.
Where do beliefs come from?
We probably don’t start our lives with beliefs. They most likely come from our lived experiences and lessons. Beliefs may often come from our societies or communities.
We pick these up from the people around us.
From our families, our towns, our schools and our friend groups. This is one of the reasons you may hear things being socialized … those are ideas and concepts picked up from the group or society around us.
Like many of our skills we pick a lot of these up from when we are very small and impressionable.
If most of the people around us all share a common belief then there is no reason to question it.
If everybody you’ve ever met looks like you and has a rule that you eat fish on Fridays for dinner you may accept that without question as just what is done. It’s just what we do.
Why might you want to find limiting beliefs?
First of all, many people go all the way through their lives and never need to find their limiting beliefs so it’s possible that you’ll never need to do this.
Instead they accept the limit and live within the limitations. You know what … if it works then I don’t judge. If it’s not broken don’t fix it.
If however you are experiencing resistance in your life trying to be happy or content or feel secure or move outside of your comfort zone then you might want to give this a try.
When what we are experiencing or trying to experience conflicts with an internal belief that causes resistance.
If you are in the process of planning to sail around the world and yet you have a belief that the world is flat you may feel some resistance or fear or discomfort while you are making your plans.
If you are in a situation and you think you should be happier than you are, or feel more comfortable than you do that is a time when it’s a good idea to think about limiting beliefs.
This is why I think this work is so helpful in blended families.
You may have some beliefs about the idea of a family
Limiting belief work is hugely popular in business and professional coaching.
I don’t see very much of it in blended family coaching.
I think that’s a missed opportunity.
If I ask you what do you think is true about families … would you have some thoughts?
I know that I do.
I very much believe that our thoughts about families and good families and parents, and good parents and kids, and stepparents and marriage and divorce all come together to shape how we feel in our families.
What does a good family look like?
^^^ however you answered that question that’s a thought about family. Does your answer match what your family actually looks like? If not then you may have some resistance.
Which could mean that if you’re looking to feel happier that our beliefs could be a good place to start.
Once you uncover limiting beliefs what do you do with them?
The short version of what to do with limiting beliefs if you decide that you want to change them is that you question them.
Sounds easy, right?
It is – sort of.
Except remember that you may not see your own limiting beliefs.
Often we crash into these during a period of self-discovery and new experiences. Our limits tend to appear in times of challenges.
Sometimes that might make it easier to see the limiting belief and other times it may just feel generally confusing.
How this goes might depend on what part of life you’re in and what you’re doing.
If you’re in college and a professor says, “here’s this new idea that you may never have heard before and I’d like to discuss it.” Well, that’s not too unpleasant.
Whereas if you’ve been raised with a belief that a behavior like say for example engaging in same sex relationships is bad and unnatural. Then you find out that somebody you love or respect is in a relationship with a same sex partner that might create some internal resistance because the two thoughts are in conflict. This is because one thought limits the other. If I believe this is bad then how can I respect or love this person.
Okay so I picked a simple one there.
But here’s an example of a limiting belief that may hit closer to home if you are in a blended family.
If you believe that divorce is wrong and you get a divorce or you marry a person who has had a divorce what do you want to do with those thoughts about divorce and the people who get them.
It can be very helpful to work with a coach or another person to help uncover or discover limiting beliefs.
Undoing a limiting belief is not always instant.
Once we find them there is often a bit of work to be done.
Sometimes it’s quick. Sometimes as soon as you realize that the belief is there – it’s like flipping a switch. You realize that the thought was not actually in alignment with who you are or who you want to be and you drop it like a hot potato.
Other times it’s not instant. This is usually when it doesn’t feel icky … yet. Then it’s like breaking a habit even after you decide you don’t want to have the habit…it’s still comfortable and therefore it’s not instant to change it.
The work of limiting beliefs can be challenging.
Remember a few paragraphs ago I talked about how beliefs can feel “right and good.” Well changing the thoughts can feel a little hard and sometimes you can question yourself. It’s a process.
In my experience it does feel like setting up a new habit. Finding all the places where it shows up. Figuring out what you want to do instead. Being really clear on your purpose helps a lot.
There are many tools that can be helpful and honestly different people have success with different strategies.
You may find people who think that these things cannot be changed. Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. I choose to disagree.
Again, working with a coach can help with this because sometimes the change comes slowly and changes a little bit as you go. A coach can be a bit like a mirror to help you see when and where limiting beliefs or blocks might be showing up in your life.
If you are interested in finding out more about working with me – click here.
10 Examples of limiting beliefs that I think sometimes show up in blended families
Here are some sneaky thoughts that I think may get in the way of being happy in a blended family.
- The bio-parents are most important therefore since I’m not the bio parent I must not be important.
- The first relationship/marriage is always the most important because it was first and since this is an additional relationship it’s therefore less important to my partner.
- If kids don’t openly express love and gratitude to me they must hate me
- A blended family is unnatural or not normal therefore because I’m in a blended family I’m less worthy.
- An adult should instantly know how to connect with stepkids and I’m struggling so there must be something wrong with me.
- I did something to deserve this or my lack of action caused the things that are going on in my family.
- Divorce is a sign of personal failure and since I’m in a family with divorce I’m less worthy.
- How I think other people see my relationship defines me and my value as a human.
- My happiness is dependent on other people’s behavior and if I can’t control other people therefore I do not deserve to be happy.
- Other people’s behavior is a reflection of my abilities as an adult/wife/stepparent and since the children aren’t behaving what I think is perfectly I’m clearly unworthy of happiness.
Do any of those sound familiar to you? If you see a little bit of yourself in any of these thoughts and you’d like to talk about them I encourage you to reach out.
These are (of course) not all of the possibilities. In fact these are just a few that I came up with very quickly.