How To Kill The Root Of A Limiting Belief

“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to questions them.” ~Anthony de Mello

You want to do it, but you don’t get it done. You promise yourself you’ll take action, but you are too afraid.

You want to be different, but you don’t know how. At the core of this failure to launch is a fear or belief that is holding you back.

For everything you wish you could do, be, or accomplish, you are just one thought (and a bucket full of feelings) away from unfettered success.

I’d go as far to say that 90% of the things you wish to accomplish could be accomplished — if it weren’t for limiting beliefs and the incredibly powerful feelings that fuel these beliefs.

The only person getting in your way is you.

Those powerful feelings have been fed over time by repetitive negative thinking. Maybe something happened when you were a child to undercut your confidence or sense of self-worth.

You have had years for those thoughts and feelings to brew and percolate. They have carved deep grooves in your brain circuitry.

The longer you have held on to a belief or fear, the more ingrained it is in your mind. (Take a look at The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (by Norman Doidge, M.D.)Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves).

You can get rid of limiting beliefs. And let me tell you, once you do this, your life will turn around 180 degrees.

You will do things you never thought possible.

You will be bold and fearless.

You will find passion in life and seize every opportunity.

In fact, you will create opportunities out of thin air. This happened to me. I got rid of a huge limiting belief in my life. (Fear of abandonment.) Now I’m flying.

To kill limiting beliefs, you can’t just cut the surface thinking. You have to get at the root cause.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need years of therapy and navel gazing. You don’t have to explore every dimension of your tortured childhood or your ruinous marriage.

But you do need to do three things:

  • You need to isolate one limiting belief at a time. Start with one that really interferes with your growth. For me it was fear of abandonment. That was my biggie. What’s yours? You don’t feel good enough? You don’t make enough money? You’re not smart? You aren’t pretty enough? You aren’t lovable?
  • Ask yourself why you have this limiting belief. This is a question you should ask until you run out of answers. Write down every reason you can think of, starting with the main one that probably occurred when you were small. Write these reasons down so you don’t forget them.
  • Finally, start undermining these reasons with evidence to the contrary. You might feel a certain way about yourself, but that doesn’t make it true. And even if there were truth in the original belief and feelings, you have lived a lot of life since then. There are hundreds of reasons why you are smart, lovable, attractive, etc. Write those down too.

By doing these steps, you have just sprayed poison on the root of your limiting belief. And you can do this exercise for all of your beliefs.

But . . . that’s not all. You can’t stop there. You have to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. You have to re-train your brain and create new grooves in your brain with a new way of thinking.

Here’s another great exercise to help you isolate your limiting beliefs.

  • Look at the statements below, and check those that really resonate with you.
  • After you choose, ask yourself “why” for each statement, repeating this question as many times as you can until you run out of answers.
  • The last answer is usually the root cause. But you have to be painfully honest with yourself to find and kill off that root cause.

_____I have not really made the authentic choice to be fully alive and engaged in life for the rest of my life.

_____I need to be right.

_____I have unresolved issues, problems, and difficulties in my life.

_____I am not clear on my personal values or I am not living in alignment with them.

_____I am addicted or attached to substances, people, or behaviors.

_____I am currently living a big lie.

_____I really don’t have anything better to do with my life right now.

_____I have financial problems or other major lifestyle concerns.

_____I am missing key, empowering relationships in my life.

_____My needs are not being met.

_____My life is primarily about me and my problems.

_____I don’t get how life works so well for other people but not for me.

_____I have not experienced very much in life yet. My life is boring.

_____I am under a lot of stress.

_____I don’t take care of myself or my health the way I should.

Identifying and understanding the root cause opens the door for addressing limiting beliefs.

37 thoughts on “How To Kill The Root Of A Limiting Belief”

  1. Great article, Barrie.

    I read “The Brain that Changes Itself”. Very inspiring indeed.

    Uncovering limiting beliefs is so very freeing, just like you said. My attitude and inner landscape changed immensely when I uncovered a limiting core belief.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Marianne,
      I am so glad you liked that book. It was really eye-opening to me. I am thrilled you tackled a core belief and have found the peace that goes with that. You will inspire others with your success. 🙂

  2. Hi Barrie,
    I’m all over this entire post. One of my fears is abandonment as well. Being married since 17 I’ve never lived alone. Is that unusual these days or what? As I get older and we age, the fear becomes bigger. After I watch the video and do the exercises I’ll be reinforcing my new beliefs. Fly high, my friend.

    • Hi Tess,
      I’m so glad you like it. You have had an amazing life — so inspirational. Please let me know what you think of the videos. 🙂

  3. Hi Barrie, this is one of my favourite topics in personal development and you totally nailed this one. I believe it’s imperative to undermine your current limiting belief and find evidence to the contrary – a belief is only a belief because you have given it support over the years, take that support away and you take away your limiting belief. Great stuff.

    • Hi Steve,
      That endorsement from you means a lot. I know you teach this to your clients and readers. For anyone who has checked it out, Steve has a wonderful Free class going on called Mind Alchemy. Check out his blog and take a look.

  4. Barrie,

    The brain is plastic and with every new experience and interaction our brain changes. This is a wonderful and reassuring notion that the way our brain is wired and the automatic thoughts we have can be changed. Filling out mind with positive and empowering information is incredibly important. Though, you point out an important idea, which is to really realign the core beliefs that impact our thinking and behavior. We all have surface addictions that we use as excuses and to deal with fear and anxiety, but getting below the surface and restructuring out thinking is key. We can choose what beliefs we want to keep and which socially instilled beliefs we want to ditch. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Very well said Joe. Choice is the operative word — we do have a choice even when we feel like we are stuck with our emotions. We have the choice to start changing them. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  5. Thanks Barrie. Great article.

    To be the owner of a belief that is limiting is to be filled with an essence of fear.

    Recently I looked up the meaning of faith and it’s interesting to see the words contained in the following definitions.

    Faith is:

    • the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person.
    • the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a concept.
    • the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a thing.

    Where ever there is faith, fear cannot reside, and belief is limitless.

    • That is beautiful Peter. If we practice confident belief, even before we believe, then faith and fearlessness will follow. Thank you so much for sharing that.

  6. Barrie:

    Excellent way of putting it. I have always believed that solutions to complex situations at work or at home are often left unreolved due to paradigms, Be giving up out belief that our way is the only way, we can break those paradigms and really learn from others.

    • Hi Raymond,
      Yes, it takes some insight and humility to get there doesn’t it? It is both frightening and liberating to discover that our way isn’t the only way.

  7. Hello, sorry but I have to react. I m sick and tired of hearing that everything happening to me is my own fault. I ve been very daring and taking action all the time. But nothing seems to turn out the way I would like. I m 52 years old. Studied construction engineer as one of the few female students, 4 on 60. I never got a job in this branch. I ve been working 28yrs in IT. I started there as the only and first female customer engineer. But, I never got the chance to prove what I was worth. I m sure that if I had been a man, my file would have been totally different. Only last year, I started a business together with my brother………….it failed, and I ll loose a lot of my savings.

    • Hi Moni,
      I am so sorry for the difficulties you have experienced with your career. I’m sure it must be extremely frustrating to feel you haven’t had the opportunity to live and work to your fullest potential. And I’m sure it’s maddening when you hear someone suggest that if only you had gotten rid of your bad beliefs life would be rosy. Please know that I understand life can throw us bad deals out of no fault of our own. Sometimes it just stinks and there’s no explanation. I do believe we have a choice about how we react to those events (after we have mourned, gotten angry, etc.). I’m sure there are parts of your life that are very good. If you would like to email me privately at, I would be happy to speak with you further.

  8. It’s amazing how much our minds can stop us in our tracks, can direct our life, can hinder our progress. I was surprised what resonated for me from your questions. They are definitely tough ones to ask and answer, but I’m ready to get to the roots of what’s limiting my life. It can only be freeing and worthwhile. Thanks for another in depth and thoughtful resource Barrie.

  9. Barrie,
    I’m very much enjoying your blog. Glad I found it. This limiting belief post really resonates with me. Someone recently said something to me that hit me like a ton of bricks: “You can’t think your way into a new way of living; you must live your way into a new way of thinking.” For example, if a person has a fear of confrontation, ultimately the only way to overcome that fear is TO CONFRONT. The more action we take, the more confidence we gain. This is my experience.
    Thanks again.

    • Hi Fr. Michael,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am so glad you are enjoying my blog. I agree, repeated action is necessary to make real change. But I do believe it can begin in the brain with our thoughts. If you work to change your thoughts, and follow up with repeated action, boy, what a potent combination. You just have to get past those icky feelings. But eventually they go away as new patterns are created. Please visit and comment again.

  10. Dear Barrie,
    Thanks for the great article and intersting links…your message could not have come at a better time for me! I marked more x’s than I thought I would so I have a lot of things to straighten out in my head/heart/soul. But I will follow your wise advice and tackle them one at a time.

    Blessings and smiles,
    denise ~*~

    • Hi Denise,
      I’m so delighted the timing was right for you. Isn’t it funny when that happens. I hope you will come back and share your results as you tackle your “x’s”! 🙂

  11. Thanks for the great information on changing beliefs. This is life changing for the clients that I work with, and it has been for me as well.

  12. Dear Barrie, what a great article! Shame that I came across it after more than a year…or maybe it’s just the right time for me 🙂 Where can I find the video you mention?

    • Hi Gonca,
      Please look at the menu bar at the top of my blog for the videos link. You will see several videos there, including one on limiting beliefs.

  13. Dear Barrie, what a great article! Shame that I came across it after more than a year… or maybe it’s just the right time for me 🙂 Where can I find the video you mention?

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