It’s easy to think that you’re not the cause of what’s holding you back. Yet if you find that you’re unhappy, frustrated, or convinced something should be a certain way, you may be harboring a limiting belief that keeps you from moving forward.

Limiting beliefs show up in how we view and interact with our world.

You may or may not be conscious of these attitudes or opinions, but they affect everything we do. For example, they may have made you successful, such as “If I look busy and stay late, my boss will think I’m working hard.” On the flip side, when you turn those limiting beliefs on yourself, they can lower your self-esteem by thinking you’re a failure or that you can’t make something work. Sometimes they can even make you decide that someone else is to blame, when it could simply be that you might have given up too early in a process out of fear of the outcome or the unknown.

Free yourself from what’s restricting you.

To uncover your limiting thoughts, patterns, and behaviors, grab some paper, a pen, and follow these five steps:

1. Turn inward.

Whether it’s to do, be, or achieve, ask yourself, “What are the areas of my life that I’m not working at or progressing toward that I would like to be?” Write down whatever comes to mind. Be honest with yourself without passing judgment or trying to make excuses by blaming someone else.

2. Determine the why.

Our perspectives are filtered by what we believe is true. Limiting beliefs begin in our childhood, how, with whom, and where we grew up. They can narrow our thinking, make us lose focus, fall back on destructive behaviors, and stop being enthusiastic about our wants and desires. Ask yourself, “What is holding me back?” Jot down what comes to mind. If you’re unsure, answer these questions:

  • What is the voice in my head that’s telling me why I haven’t started or done x, y, z?
  • Whose voice is telling me this? Is it me? Is it a former boss, parent, sibling, or friend?
  • How are my memories and past experiences worrying or stopping me?

3. Challenge the why.

From an objective view, how have the “whys” benefited you? Your answers can span from protecting you from making a similar mistake to no benefit at all. If you’re struggling with identifying a benefit for any of the reasons, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I gain by keeping hold of this?
  • Am I holding on to resentment and anger?
  • Have I been refraining from addressing how someone hurt me to stay in the right?

4. Accept and be willing to let go.

Now that you can visually see what’s holding you back, accept them. These notions may have protected you or helped you get where you are now, but they’ve outstayed their welcome, and it’s time to say goodbye. You don’t need to know how to let go. You just need to be aware of them and willing to say farewell.

Letting go usually involves some form of forgiveness—whether it’s of yourself, someone else, or a situation. It does not mean you’re excusing bad behavior. Often what you find most challenging to let go of is what you need to let go of the most. If you need to let go of something you’ve done, ask, “What do I need to do that will allow me to let this go?” Maybe you need to make some kind of amends, apologize, or find a meaningful way to make it up to yourself or someone else.

5. Make amends and commit to change.

Although you can’t change the past, you can make amends and learn from it. When you let go of whatever is bothering you, you free yourself, retrieve your energy, and reclaim your power. Imagine letting go of all that is holding you back. Process it, feel it, and breathe into it. Allow this releasing sensation to permeate your body.

Then create a plan. Write down a few actions you can start doing today, next week, and next month to move forward towards your goals. Select new beliefs that support your desires. Envision what you want to become as reality and align yourself with people who inspire, motivate, and empower you to stretch yourself toward your goals.

Stay devoted to your aspirations.

As Adelaida Harrison, author of The Neuroscience behind the Enneagram, stated, “Emotions move us, beliefs hinder us.”

We restrict ourselves when we allow our rules to take hold of us. Check to see if you’re resisting the change you want to make. With awareness and the desire to change, you can free yourself. It may feel uncomfortable and even distressing at first. However, by staying faithful to your action plan, you’ll begin experiencing the benefits.

Learn more about what may be holding you back by taking the iEQ9 Enneagram assessment and determining your growth path forward. The insights will help you become more attuned and open, and less fixated on your personality’s defense structures that may be holding you back.

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