I've been working with people for over 30 years now, in all sorts of contexts. Some have seen me for therapy to get over a trauma, or to change how they cope, or to overcome depression or anxiety. Some see me for business coaching, to grow their business and achieve financial security. Some consult me for career coaching, to figure out how to get a more rewarding and satisfying job.

It has only recently hit me that all people the people I work with share the same obstacles to their success (O.K., call me a slow learner). Those obstacles that crush their success are their limiting beliefs. The challenge is that sometimes we don't even realize that we hold a particular belief.

In fact, often the belief is operating below the surface, below our level of consciousness, and is something that we DON’T believe consciously. Nevertheless, we operate as if the belief is true. For example, many people hold the belief "I’m not good enough." Often, if you talk with them about it, they say they know that they are as good as anyone else. But, unfortunately, they operate as if the belief "I'm not good enough" was true. That is because it is operating subconsciously--below their level of awareness. This belief can lead them to chronic self-esteem issues, or at the very least, may block them from being as successful in their goals as they want to be.

When people get stuck or stopped from achieving the goals they want, there is often a subconscious limiting belief at work. Whether their goal is being happy or having a successful business, being able to identify what the subconscious beliefs are, and then let go of those beliefs is the key to getting rid of the obstacles that have blocked them.

If you've ever had the experience of moving forward toward a goal you set, then getting stuck or sabotaging yourself for no apparent reason, you’ve probably experienced a subconscious limiting belief at work. Limiting beliefs can take many forms. Common ones are
"I’m not good enough;"
"I can't..."
"I don't know enough;"
"I'm too old;"
"I'm not smart enough;"
"It's too hard;"
"I don' have enough....something–time, energy, money."

Sometimes our limiting belief is so obvious that we are able to identify it pretty easily. Other times we need someone else to help us figure out what belief is below the surface, blocking our plans.

When we talk to others about being stuck, they can often hear a limiting belief behind what we say. They hear us say "Yes, but...," which sometimes means the limiting belief "I don't believe I can" is operating. Or, they may hear us say "I don't have enough..." or "I can't..."

Because these beliefs are subconscious, we may not really be aware of them fully ourselves. They even may be the complete opposite of what we think we believe. For instance, I often meet people who have a message they give to others that “You can be anything you want–the sky is the limit.” Beneath that, however, they may have the unconscious belief that “I don’t deserve to be enormously successful–it’s O.K. to be moderately successful, as long as I don’t get too successful.” At heart is often a fear that by becoming really successful, they will become someone they (or others) don’t like–someone arrogant or “too big for their britches.” Unless this belief is identified and released, that belief will keep them limited to a moderate level of success–they will have trouble going to the next level–in their business, in their relationships, in their lives.

(c) 2008 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a psychologist, life coach, trainer and owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC in Maryville, TN. She has more than 30 years of experience helping people overcome obstacles and self-sabotage by using her solution focused approach. She specializes in helping people let go of "emotional clutter"--those limiting beliefs and negative emotions stockpiled from past experiences. For more information and free resources, go to http://www.InnerResourceCenter.com.