Limiting Beliefs - Definition, Synonyms

Last updated: May 22, 2023

What are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are negative self-concepts that limit our potential, hold us back from reaching our goals, and prevent us from fully living life. 

Growing up, we may learn to accept certain limiting beliefs - such as ‘I can’t do anything right’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ - as part of our identity.

These beliefs become ingrained in our subconscious mind and can manifest in many ways, such as fear, anxiety, or negative behavior.

If left unchecked, limiting beliefs can significantly reduce our ability to achieve success, happiness and fulfillment in life.

The good news is that we can work to challenge and overcome these beliefs by actively identifying and reframing them.

By doing this, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities and take back control over our lives.

What are most common limiting beliefs people usually have?

  • I am not good enough.
  • I am too old/young.
  • Money is hard to come by.
  • Success always requires hard work and struggle.
  • Love hurts and is hard to find.
  • I am not smart enough.
  • I don't deserve to be happy.
  • I can't do it because of my past.
  • There's no point in trying because I will fail anyway.
  • I am not lucky.
  • I am not talented enough.
  • People will judge me if I fail.
  • I need to be perfect to be loved.
  • I am not attractive enough.
  • Life is unfair.
  • Change is impossible.
  • I am a victim of circumstance.
  • I am too busy to pursue my dreams.
  • I need to please everyone to be liked.
  • Success is reserved for a select few.   

You may not be aware of your limiting beliefs

Some limiting beliefs are so deeply ingrained in our subconscious that we don't even realize we have them and life by them. These beliefs can be formed from past experiences, childhood impressions, or societal conditioning. Even if we are not aware of them, our thoughts, actions a decisions are deeply influenced by them. 

Depending on what these beliefs are, they can be incredibly powerful or detrimental. Most often they hold us back from living the life we truly want. Some of those beliefs people usually have and are not aware of them:

1. Thinking that they are not worthy or deserving of success.

2. Believing that they do not have enough time or resources to achieve their goals.

3. Feeling that they are too old or not talented enough to pursue their dreams.

4. Assuming that they will fail before even trying.

5. Thinking that money and success only come to lucky people.

6. Believing that they need approval from others before pursuing their dreams.

7. Assuming that they will only be successful if they follow a certain path or trend.

8. Thinking that their past failures define their future potential.

9. Believing that they cannot change their circumstances or environment.

10. Assuming that their background or upbringing limits their success.

11. Thinking that they need to sacrifice their happiness for success.

12. Believing that they do not have the right connections or networks to be successful.

13. Assuming that they need to be perfect or flawless to succeed.

14. Thinking that they are not smart or educated enough to achieve their goals.

15. Believing that their success will bring jealousy or resentment from others.

16. Assuming that their success will result in them losing touch with their true identity or values.

17. Thinking that they have to work hard and struggle to succeed.

18. Believing that they are not creative or innovative enough to make a difference.

19. Assuming that they are too introverted or shy to succeed in their chosen field.

20. Thinking that they have missed their chance for success and should give up.

How do we identify limiting beliefs? 

We can identify our limiting beliefs by asking ourselves “What are my biggest fears?” or “What keeps me from pursuing what I really want?”

Once we discover our limiting beliefs, we can challenge them by coming up with evidence to the contrary of these false stories. 

How do we get rid of limiting beliefs? 

Embracing positivity and gratitude can help us break free from these negative thought patterns, allowing us to take steps forward in life.

Techniques for overcoming limiting beliefs

1. Reframe your thoughts - Make a conscious shift in your thinking. If you can feel you head is saying to you "I can't do this", think consciously "I can do this but it may take some effort". Practice this for at least 5 minutes daily.

2. Visualization - Imagine yourself achieving your goals and visualize how that will make you feel. It's best to practice visualization for 10 minutes daily.

3. Positive self-talk - Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations like "I am capable and strong" or "I deserve success". Practice this daily for at least 5 minutes.

4. Challenge your beliefs - Write down your limiting beliefs and ask yourself if they are true. If not, replace them with more positive beliefs. Spend at least 10 minutes daily on this activity.

5. Gratitude - Focus on what you already have and what you are grateful for. What you would miss most if you lost it? Now be grateful for having it in your life. Do this at least for 5-10 minutes per day.

6. Mindfulness - Pay attention to the present moment without judgment, and focus on your breath. Practice this technique for 5-10 minutes daily.

7. Take action - Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, take action towards your goals. Spend at least 20 minutes daily on taking actionable steps towards your goals.

8. Surround yourself with positivity - Surround yourself with positive influences like supportive friends, inspiring books, and motivational podcasts. Spend 30 minutes each day on exposing yourself to positivity.

9. Celebrate your successes - Celebrate every small victory, no matter how small! This technique can be done for a few minutes each day.

10. Meditate - Find a peaceful space, sit down, breathe, and let go of any negative thoughts. Spend at least 10 minutes daily practicing meditation.  

Observe your thinking and keep a journal

Every day, take some time for yourself to check in emotionally and record your current state of mind. Use journal to keep track of your inner monologue, and take note of any negative shifts in your thinking.

When you observe you suffer from negative thinking, remind yourself of the techniques you’ve learned for getting rid of limiting beliefs: Replace negative thoughts with positive ones; reframe how you think about certain situations; focus on gratitude for what you already have; be kind to yourself; and practice self-compassion. 

Whatever you feel put in your journal, don't be discouragged. Adopt an attitude of curiosity and eagerness to make new discoveries about yourself.

Synonyms to limiting beliefs

Constraining convictions

Restrictive assumptions

Crippling dogmas

Constraining suppositions

Hindering convictions

Debilitating ideas


Narrow outlook

Constraining thoughts

Unyielding assumptions

Rigid preconceptions

Unbending postulations 

Dogmatic speculations 

Rigorous hypotheses 

Unwavering fictions 

Deterministic theories

Confining ideas

Words related to limiting beliefs

Fear of Failure



Negative Thinking


Low Self-Esteem

Fear of Success


Lack of Self-Confidence

Lack of Motivation


Impostor Syndrome

Fear of Rejection

Cognitive Biases


Limiting Mindsets

Low Self-Worth

Fear of the Unknown

Self-Defeating Behaviors