Breaking Limiting Beliefs

The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself. –Tony Robbins

Have you heard about the Bannister Effect? Basically, it was one man’s journey to break a myth – a lot of scientists and doctors had regarded impossible. To run a mile below 4minutes. People believed the human body couldn’t endure it.

For 9yrs the record stood at 4:01. And then he broke the record – 3:59. But the surprising part is, once he did it, within a month John Landry broke Bannister’s record. Within 3yrs, 16 athletes had broken the 4mile record.

“The Bannister Effect” is the phenomenon of one person showing others that it can be done, thus, prompting others to believe and achieve.

It’s basically all about breaking a ‘Limiting Belief’.

Now what’s a belief and why does it matter so much?

A Belief is basically an acceptance or conviction that certain things are true or real. It’s a mental map of the way we tell ourselves that things work. They can either empower us or inhibit us.

Now we all have some limiting beliefs or the other, which are strengthened over time with multiple experiences.

  • E.g. I don’t have time or
  • I don’t have what it takes to succeed or
  • Everyone whom I love tends to leaves me etc.  

Why do you think it was so difficult for people before Roger Bannister to do it; but could do it soon after? It’s because the “limiting belief” in their mind, which was accentuated with all the research they read and the stories they were told, stopped them from believing it could be done.  But once he did it, their mental map changed.

It’s, the same for so many inventions e.g. the Wright Brothers, two American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane or Ferdinand Magellan who proved the earth was round.

Now all these discoveries or breakthroughs required an unshakeable faith in their beliefs (and of course hard work & overcoming many failures). Wright Brothers put their life at risk while trying to create a plane. Magellan could have fallen over the edge of the earth. So that’s the power of a belief. The negative too unfortunately can have similar effects. Can send us in a spiral or limit our true potential.

Science shows that up to 95% of what we do as adults is dictated by subconscious patterns learned when we were children.

The most important aspect of a belief is that it can change! Either towards the positive or negative.

Since I was a child, I had in some way or other been body shamed into believing I was too thin. People would ask my parents if they fed me enough. Strangers on the road would walk up to me to give me advice on putting weight. This led me to hate my body. Everytime, I looked in the mirror I cringed. I would wear loose clothes, anything to hide my ‘supposedly stick-like hands and legs’. And it continued well into adulthood. Honestly, these were stories I had made up in my head through all the inputs I kept receiving through childhood.

Similarly, so many of us have these limiting beliefs which we don’t even know sometimes exist in us. So many times, I’ve heard people say – XYZ is different, I can’t do it.

But often it’s about just changing that statement – If XYZ can, so can I!! Exactly like how John Landry and so many others thought once Bannister had broken the unbreakable.

Now I’m not saying I have destroyed all my self limiting beliefs, but what I am trying to do is to adopt some empowering ones.

e.g. My mind and body are one – If I can achieve it in my mind, my body too will respond to it.

I will not stop my life waiting for my body to heal – I literally put a year of my life on hold waiting for the cancer to go away, and now that my treatment is still continuing I’m taking baby steps towards seeing my future post cancer and walking that path.

So I ask you, as I end this article. What is that 1 self-limiting belief you have that you want to change.

And answer these 3 questions to turn it around.

  1. If I had to relook at the instances of where it started gaining strength – can I remove the opinion or judgement from it and look at it as pure fact? E.g when people told me I was thin – I tried to remove the judgement I thought they carried to ridicule me and simply look at it as if I honestly was underweight and I had to put on some weight to get healthy again.
  • If I had to turn it around to sound more empowering (create an alternative), what would it sound like?
  • Is there a mantra I can follow or some intentional steps I can take to start believing the new story I am creating (self-help)? Whose help can I take to prevent me from sliding back?

Look forward to your inputs on which limiting belief you would like to attack!