by | Jul 25, 2018 | Personal Development

One of the things that is most satisfying in my coaching business is when I can help my clients get to the bottom of their limiting beliefs and then get over them. Getting over limiting beliefs can be quite a straightforward and sometimes a very fast process. The tougher bit is identifying what the limiting belief is in the first place!

Limiting beliefs

Today I am going to share with you a few tips and tricks to help you identify where you might be setting limits on yourself. You can hear it in the language that you use with yourself and other people. You might even hear other people’s self-imposed limits as you practice noticing this language.

1: All or nothing thinking

Do you ever catch yourself saying things such as,

“there’s no point in even trying if I’m not going to succeed.”


“That person, they didn’t show up so they’re completely unreliable.”

That gives you an indication that there might be some all-or-nothing thinking going on. That idea that something is either right or wrong and there is nothing in between. I see that quite a lot in my coaching practice. You can read more about all-or-nothing thinking in my blog post How to find the space in-between.

2: Over-generalisation

The next thing that I want you to be aware of is over-generalisation. Using words like always or never are an indicator of over generalizing things. When my clients use “always” or “never” then I simply ask,

Always? Hasn’t there ever been a situation where it was different?


“You’ve never done that, really, never?”

And it’s just enough to tease away that belief that things again are very static and there’s no elasticity in your situation. Coaching is all about just finding a little bit of wiggle room and getting around or over or through the blocks and obstacles.

We don’t have to smash through everything as long as we’re making progress towards what it is that we really want. So that’s over generalization,

“I’ll never get that promotion”


“She always does that.”

3: Catastrophising

Catastrophising is my next one. This is when you see things as dramatically more or less important than they are. This will often include creating a scenario following that thought.

“I ate the chocolate brownie, that means I’m a complete failure and I’m going to put it back on the 20 kilos that I’ve lost. “

We have gone from “I ate the chocolate brownie” to “I’ve put on the 20 kilos again.”

One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. Another example is that I hear quite a lot is,

“My life isn’t perfect, so I can’t possibly be a life coach. So, I’m going to be stuck in my job forever.”

We can discuss the fact that you don’t need to have a perfect life to make real change with clients but that’s a big leap from,

“my life isn’t perfect”


“I will never be able to be a life coach” or “I’m going to be stuck in my job forever”.

4: “Shoulding”

The next one is one is very common, and you might see it in yourself. If you don’t, then listen for it with other people. It’s “shoulding“.

Using the word should, or ought to, or I need to, or I must.

These are all variations on should and just puts pressure on us.

“I should have done that this weekend.”

“They should be more considerate of my feelings.”

“They should know that’s going to upset me.”

No good from should

5: Labelling

Labelling is where you attach a negative label to yourself or other people when you maybe only have one instance of that particular behaviour.

“I didn’t stand up to my colleague, I’m such a wimp.”

I’m not a wimp because I didn’t stand up to my colleague, it’s just one instance.

“What an idiot he is, he didn’t even see me coming.”

We don’t know that they’re an idiot. We know that there was some unfortunate behaviour.

Be careful of labelling when there’s not enough evidence to support an all-encompassing identity which is what we’re giving ourselves or other people when we’re labelling.

6: Jumping to conclusions

Jumping to conclusions or as I like to put it mind reading. When we think we know what other people are thinking and feeling and saying.

“She thinks I’m exaggerating again.”

How do you know what somebody else thinks? You can’t know what somebody else thinks.

“He still hasn’t forgiven me for telling people his news. He still hasn’t forgiven me for gossiping.”

Unless he tells me then I don’t know if this is the case.

“No one understands.”

Really is that really true?

A helpful tool that I use for mind reading is – Is that true, is it false or do I actually not know?

someone else thinking

7: Discounting the positive

This is when you do not acknowledge when things are going well. I see this one a lot with my clients.

“It doesn’t count because anyone could have done it.”

It’s so easy to push away that positive, so easy to push away our compliments and what that’s actually doing is pushing away the evidence that builds resilience.  The way that it works in your subconscious when you accept those positives and you absorb those positives, is that you start to focus more import on them and what you focus on expands. (I have a blog post about that too – Are you focusing on the right things?)

“I wanted to enrol 10 clients, but I only got four, I’m such a failure.”

Well no, because you got four clients and you’re going to change lives of four people.

8: “If only”

This one speaks to blame and personalization, blaming yourself or blaming other people when they’re not entirely responsible for the situation.

“If only I was younger I would have got the promotion”


“If only I hadn’t said that then they wouldn’t have done whatever they’ve done.”


“If only she hadn’t yelled at me I wouldn’t have responded in the way that I did and now we’re in a bigger argument”

Be careful of the if only statements. It really speaks to blaming yourself or other people for situations that are not entirely within your responsibility.

9: Emotional Reasoning

And then the last one that I’m going discuss is emotional reasoning.

Emotional reasoning is feeling something and believing it is true.

“I feel like such an idiot, so I must be an idiot.”

Well that’s not true, just because you’re feeling that way doesn’t mean that that’s what you’ve become.

“I feel guilty, so I must have done something wrong.”

Is that true? Is it? Let’s dig a little bit deeper, maybe you’re feeling guilty about something else. Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong but it’s an uncomfortable feeling or maybe it’s not guilt that you’re feeling at all.

There’s always something to be explored if you have a sense of curiosity around it.

What are YOUR limiting beliefs?

So, nine different language patterns for you to play with and notice in yourself or maybe in other people. It might be easier to notice in other people to begin with.

The first part is to notice and become aware of your language and then practicing changing it.

Limiting Language


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