I have an important question for you.
If you could do absolutely anything, and in doing so you’d be guaranteed success, financial freedom, and support from your community, what would you do?
When I ask this question to my clients, there’s often a long pause.
Many of us have never given thought to what we truly want without the limiting weight of our fears, like financial ruin, judgment, and failure.
After this long pause, most people I ask this question start smiling conspiratorially and confess a deep-rooted dream.
It’s beautiful to witness.
Then, almost as quickly as it arrived, the smile leaves and they dive into their “buts.”
“Oh! I would start my own freelancing business so I can travel the world as I work!”
BUT I never received any business training.
BUT it’s too late for me now.
BUT I have no idea how to start a business.
BUT I can’t earn real money from that.
BUT I don’t even know where I would begin.
BUT my family and friends might think I’m making a bad decision.”
And on and on and on it goes.
These “buts” are the self-limiting beliefs standing between where we are now and where we want to be in life and work.
The bad news: our self-limiting beliefs are powerful blockers to creating what we want.
The good news: with the following tools, you can overcome them enough to go for what you want anyways.
Identifying self-limiting beliefs
Imagine you’ve just settled into bed when you hear a worrying noise coming from your closet. It gets louder and louder as you stare at the closet door in fear.
In Scenario 1, you pull the covers up over your head, try to avoid the noise, and attempt to sleep.
But sleep doesn’t come. Because even though you’re trying your best to avoid it, the noise is still there. You feel scared and anxious because you have no idea what it is, and your mind is filling the void with all kinds of stories of ghosts, robbers, and gremlins.
You don’t sleep a wink and spend the whole night working yourself up into a state of awful fear, certain that what’s rumbling in your closet is the worst.
In Scenario 2, upon hearing the rumbling, you immediately get up, walk across the room and pull back the closet door.
And there, on your closet floor, is your dog in a game of tug-of-war with a sweater.
You set him free and go to sleep.
When opening the door to our fears, we face them and give ourselves the power of understanding so we can move forward.
Avoidance is usually the harder path when it comes to self-limiting beliefs.
The truth is, it takes more energy to pull up the covers and fret for an entire sleepless night than it does to get up and open the closet door.
Here are the powerful steps we can take in facing and navigating our fears and self-limiting beliefs.
1) Name Them
This is getting out of bed and pulling back the closet door.
When our thoughts are left to their own devices, they bounce around in our minds like balls, creating a sensation of discomfort, fear, overwhelm, or anxiety.
Naming them is grabbing the ball, observing it, and identifying what it is that’s causing the associated sensation.
For example, instead of feeling a general gnawing sense of worry, you can turn your fear into a clear statement: “I’m worried that I don’t know enough to run a successful business.”
Now we get as specific as we can in defining what we’ve named.
Double-clicking is like hovering over a word and drilling down deeper to identify what it truly means.
For example, what does it mean to you to not “know enough” to have a “successful business.”
Any time your fears contain non-specific words, it’s important to get very specific with them.
What does “know enough” mean, specifically? What do you need to know?
How do you define a “successful business,” and how will you know when it’s not successful?
Now the self-limiting belief further transforms from:
“I’m worried that I don’t know enough to run a successful business,”
“I’m worried that I don’t know how to create the tax, legal, accounting, and marketing strategies that will help me run a business that earns at least $10,000 a month.”
3) Go down the rabbit hole
Now we take the clarity you’ve gathered from naming and double-clicking, and we take it down the rabbit hole.
This means we take that fear or belief all the way to the worst thing that could pan out if it came true.
What is the worst-case scenario of the fear that you don’t know how to create these strategies and you won’t meet your financial goal?
You make $0.
4) Balance fear with fact
This is where you introduce your power. Your power to prevent, plan for, mitigate, navigate and move on from the worst-case scenarios you’ve outlined above.
So, let’s say your worst-case scenario comes true and you make $0 in your first month of business as a freelancer.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. How can I prevent this outcome?
2. What would I do to lessen the impact of this potential outcome?
3. How would this really impact me?
4. How would I bounce back from it if it did happen?
You can prevent this outcome by finding a mentor, coach, or advisor who can share their tax, legal, accounting, and marketing knowledge with you and help you craft a clear strategy.
You can lessen the impact of this potential outcome by creating a financial roadmap that has a few months of savings included so you stay afloat even if you make $0 in month one.
Realistically, if this happened to you multiple months in a row (the worst of the worst-case scenarios), you could get a job in your industry for income.
You can bounce back from this worst-case scenario by incorporating new tactics into your marketing and sales strategy to create different results.
As you can see, a lot of the outcomes of our fears and limiting beliefs are preventable, manageable, or actually don’t impact us as much as we think they do.
When we focus on all of our “buts,” we’re viewing our dreams through the lens of self-limiting beliefs.
When we reframe a situation, it’s like we’re taking off our limiting lens glasses and trying on a new pair, seeing the same scenario in a different way.
Reframes most often come from books, friends, loved ones, therapists, coaches, mentors and other people who share their own lenses with you when you seek their advice or input.
Let’s say you come to me describing your belief that you don’t know enough about tax, legal, accounting, and marketing to earn $10k a month.
I now offer this reframe: What if you don’t need to be an expert in any of these areas to earn your first $10k month? What if the support of your network, small business resources, and advisors/mentors/coaches is enough?
And suddenly, you realize that you don’t have to do this alone. You remember that there are more small business resources available to you today than there ever have been before.
You get a little wind in your sails with that realization.
Whether a reframe is “true” or not is up to each individual to decide. But allow me to offer that a reframed lens is often no more or less true than the lens you’re carrying with you that’s making you fearful.
6. Find Expanders
For some situations, you may want to take things a bit further with expanders.
Expanders are people who have achieved what you want to achieve, done what you want to do, have what you want, or who show up in the world in a way that you’d like to.
They help you see that your dreams are totally achievable because they’ve achieved them already. And they may have even had some of the same self-limiting beliefs and fears that you have along the way.
In this example, I’d invite our aspiring business owner to find other freelancers who just recently started out and are succeeding.
It’s important to expand our belief in what is possible.
Our self-limiting beliefs and fears block us from pursuing the life we want. These “buts” of ours keep us from giving ourselves a chance.
The steps above help you to take your power back over these subconscious thoughts, bringing you into your conscious and more rational mind.
By practicing them, you can unblock yourself, step by step, and clear the path forward.
You may completely overcome some of these fears and beliefs.
And for those that you don’t, I offer this:
Do it scared.
Your future self will thank you.