“I can’t, I’m just no good at it.”
“This is who I am, that’s all there is to it.”
“I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all felt this way at one point or another. However, such limiting beliefs become toxic when they predominate your thoughts. They turn possibility into hopelessness and positivity into despair. They become self-fulfilling prophecies—if you believe them to be true then they are.
Limiting beliefs are the byproduct of a fixed mindset, which posits that we’re born with set talents, abilities, and intelligence. We are who we are, we’re capable or incapable of certain things, and that can’t change.
Limiting beliefs apply to attitudes about life in general, perpetuating patterns of victimization and feelings of hopelessness. Thinking that things will never get better, that you have shitty luck, that you’re trapped by your circumstances are also examples of a fixed mindset.
Everyone experiences hardship and challenges but when we perceive those as proof that our limiting beliefs are true, a negative mindset is reinforced and becomes the default pattern. In other words, things DO suck because that’s what you notice and believe to be true.
Our default patterns form early in life. When we’re exposed to messaging that reinforces a limiting belief, then that’s what we come to know as truth. Someone expressed dissatisfaction with your drawing in first grade, now you believe you’re not creative. You struggled in math in school, now you believe you’re stupid. Your mom routinely complained about her job, now you believe that hating work is an inevitable fact of life.
Which is not to say that it’s this simple. A single incident doesn’t create a default pattern. But seeds of limitation get planted and grow every time an experience seems to corroborate the belief. You failed art in high school. Your sister called you stupid because you needed help with your homework. You had a horrible boss who made your life miserable…you get the idea.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, posits that intelligence can grow and abilities can be developed through focused attention and action. Failure is perceived as inevitable and a valuable part of the learning process. Challenges are recognized as opportunities for growth.
Other people’s successes or achievements are perceived as examples of what’s possible, not evidence of your own crappy circumstance. There’s the understanding that we all have control over how we choose to relate to our lives. Gratitude is paramount.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to shift old patterns and develop a growth mindset!
How have you been limiting yourself with a fixed mindset? What is your default pattern when it comes to your thoughts and attitudes? How can you grow and expand your confidence? What do you hope to manifest or achieve? I encourage you to journal your responses to these questions for deeper insight.
The first step to creating positive change is to release limiting beliefs and open your mind to possibility.
You ARE capable. You are not stuck. Things will work out.
This is not magic. Thoughts alone won’t create change. But shifting your mindset will help you change your behavior. Changing your behavior means taking action, and taking (consistent!) action yields results.
As you move into a new year and a new decade, cultivate a growth mindset. Become aware of your default pattern and notice when it arises so that you can shift your perspective. Learn to see failure as inevitable and necessary. Recognize challenge as opportunity for growth. Be willing to take action and move forward in the direction of your dreams. Understand that there is joy in the journey not just the destination. Celebrate the success of others. Honor your own abilities and have faith in your capacity to learn. Be grateful for all that is.
When you’re able to do this, you will know a whole new level of joy and fulfillment.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a healer, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.