All people have wishes, dreams, and aspirations in areas of their life. For most adults, one of these areas of life is in our relationships. Take a minute and write down your ideal partner. Be as specific as you like, and create a picture in your description of what he or she looks like, the personality type, how they interact with you, and how this makes your dream relationship.
Now, think about your past relationships. Do they meet these aspirations and desires? Are you constantly choosing partners that are not able to fulfill these wishes and aspirations? Do you convince yourself to “settle” for a comfortable or mediocre relationship and accept that perhaps that is the reality of life?
If you answered yes, or are in an unfulfilling or unsatisfying relationship, you may be unconsciously responding to deeply held limiting beliefs.
What are Limiting Beliefs?
Throughout your life, you’re exposed to information from the world around you. This includes feedback and information from parents, teachers, friends, family members, and others we see as relevant and important in our lives.
When we hear messages that define us or create a constraint on our potential or possibilities, this information becomes a limiting belief. This is true in the types of jobs we choose, the level of self-confidence we have, and the types of experiences we have in life.
Often our beliefs are based on our early relationships. If our parents were cold and distant to each other, if there was a divorce, or if a parent leaves the children and the family, this forms a belief about relationships.
We unconsciously see this as the roadmap to our relationships. We may subconsciously think that all relationships end in divorce, so we limit our ability to try to work with the other person or to trust fully. This distance in our relationship is created by a limiting belief, and it also attracts partners who fit this belief pattern.
Limiting beliefs are discoverable if you take the time to understand why you stop or do not take an opportunity to try something new. In relationships, these limiting beliefs can include mental self-messages such as:
- I am not smart/rich/good/funny enough for anyone to want to date
- I am too busy with my work to get into a relationship
- No one loves me
- I am no good at relationships
- Everyone in my family is divorced; I will be too
- I will just get hurt if I trust someone
When you find yourself stopping or backing away, consider the underlying message. What is holding you back? Is it a limiting belief?
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
The first step in overcoming limiting beliefs is to accept they are present. Talking with a therapist or counselor can be very helpful in identifying these beliefs and understanding how they relate to your past experiences.
Once you have a method for detecting these beliefs, try the following strategies to overcome and move beyond these limitations.
- Set mini-goals to change the belief
Changing your thinking results in changes in behavior. Start by setting small, achievable mini-goals that help you to empower yourself in areas where you want to see change. For example, if you have a limiting belief about trust, a mini-goal may be to find one thing per day that shows someone in your life is worthy of your trust.
- Let go of the past
What happens in past relationships or within your family does not have to dictate what happens in the future. See yourself in the relationship you want, and look towards the potential of this relationship in your future.
- Empower yourself
Limiting thoughts are often an indicator of low self-esteem. Find something positive and empowering you do every day and write it down in a journal.
- List your beliefs about specific topics
Make a list of your beliefs in different areas of your life. This can include career, wealth, relationships, health, education, or any other area. Write these beliefs down and assess if they are limiting or empowering. Focus on shifting limiting beliefs to positive or empowering beliefs to change how you perceive your potential.
Changing limiting beliefs is not easy, but it is highly effective in changing the way you see yourself in future relationships and therefore changing them for the better.
Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re struggling with co-dependency, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break-up. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books Love Smacked: How to Break the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love or Infinite Recovery