60 Toxic Beliefs That Are Poisoning Your Potential

What’s holding you back?

No matter how successful you’ve been at starting your small business, you’re probably still plagued by doubt or imposter syndrome every once in a while.

And you’re not alone: Doubts are constantly following me around and kicking me in the back of the knees as I try to move forward.

But doubt leads to limiting beliefs—toxic ideas that keep you from living your best life. These success-limiting inner mantras are poison, and you deserve to shed them.

How Limiting Beliefs Are Holding You Back

My dad has always been a workhorse. Sometimes he wakes up at 4:00 a.m. and leaves for the office twenty minutes later.

On family vacations, he’d spend hours on the phone closing deals. Out to dinner? Answering client calls. On weekends? Advertising, selling, processing.

Growing up, I came to believe that earning money had to be hard work. Success required long days, early mornings, and late nights—otherwise it wasn’t real success.

So when you’re dealing with a grouchy client, try to put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they’re having a rough day and just need a little kindness.

I didn’t realize how much of that belief I carried, how heavily it weighed on me.

When I write an article for my website, for example, I don’t publish it if it only takes me two hours to write. My limiting belief is telling me I didn’t work hard enough, so the article doesn’t deserve to be a success.

So I write and I write and I write, and instead of measuring quality, I measure quantity—quantity of time spent toiling over a post.

My belief that success only comes from over-exertion tells me that anything that comes naturally to me isn’t good enough.

And if something that comes easily to me is a success, I feel like a fraud—like it was luck or chance and it will never happen again. Worse, I actually hope that I won’t be successful again, so that people won’t find out the truth: I didn’t sweat over that piece for hours on end.

Sounds outrageous, right?

This toxic belief of mine keeps me from trusting my instincts and having faith in my ability to do good work. It’s holding me back—and I bet you have some ideas stunting you, too.

60 Limiting Beliefs That Hold You Back From Success

  1. I’m not somebody who follows through.
  2. I’m not an expert.
  3. Nobody cares what I have to say.
  4. I’m not perfect. Why would anybody listen to/buy from/hire me?
  5. I didn’t work hard enough on this.
  6. I’m not worth it
  7. I don’t deserve money, recognition, or success.
  8. I don’t have time.
  9. I’m not entrepreneurial.
  10. People will judge me.
  11. I’m a creative.
  12. I’m not creative.
  13. I’m a procrastinator.
  14. I’ll sound stupid.
  15. Somebody has thought of this before.
  16. Other people can do it better than me.
  17. Nobody is interested in my ideas.
  18. My idea is weird.
  19. If I succeed, I won’t be able to sustain it.
  20. I don’t have the skills.
  21. I’ll never be creative/analytical/mathematical/good at selling enough to be an entrepreneur.
  22. People who have something to sell are evil.
  23. I don’t know enough.
  24. I’m not a numbers/business person
  25. The people who are successful in this are out of my league
  26. I’m not going to be successful so there’s no point in trying
  27. I’m too old.
  28. I’m too young.
  29. I owe it to others to always work for them.
  30. I’m beneath these people.
  31. I’m lazy.
  32. Entrepreneurs are sleazy.
  33. I’m not original enough.
  34. People like me don’t build businesses/become entrepreneurs/become successful.
  35. People won’t take me seriously.
  36. I’ll look foolish.
  37. I don’t feel like I could give enough value.
  38. I’ve tried it before and failed, so I’ll fail again.
  39. I can’t start a business because I have kids.
  40. What is meant to be will happen so I don’t have to try.
  41. I can’t ask for help—I’ll get rejected.
  42. Regardless of how hard I might work, I’ll never measure up.
  43. I will always avoid pursuing goals that matter to me.
  44. The only way to success is to go to college, get a degree, and work your way up the corporate ladder.
  45. I don’t have the willpower.
  46. I’m just not motivated.
  47. I’m happy enough with things how they are now.
  48. I’m not smart enough.
  49. I can’t do that.
  50. There’s no point.
  51. I don’t have enough money.
  52. I don’t have enough support.
  53. I don’t have the connections.
  54. I’m too shy.
  55. I’m too scared.
  56. That’s just not “me.”
  57. I’m not tech-savvy.
  58. I don’t know what I want.
  59. I’ll start a business one day.
  60. I’m not ready.

How to Deal With Your Toxic Thoughts

The first step to beating these limiting beliefs? See if they hold up to the truth test.

For example, is it true that articles I write in a few hours versus articles I write over the course of a week, totally burning myself out, are any worse? Well, if I look at my analytics, I’m faced with proof that even without toiling away, I’m perfectly capable of success.

Now, I want to flip the thought. What if instead of thinking “I’m only successful when I overwork myself,” I think “I have a strong work ethic and I’m capable of working super hard when I need to, but I’m lucky that sometimes things come naturally to me?” That’s a thought worth having—one that’s based on reality and not my own self-doubt.

So if you’re held back by any of the toxic thoughts I listed above, simply look at the evidence and flip your thinking. Imagine what you can do with your new freedom—the sky’s the limit.


About the author: Sarah Peterson is the founder of Unsettle, a resource for those searching to boost their careers and businesses with increased conversion rates, social media growth and better content marketing.

Sarah Peterson
Sarah Peterson

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