Self-worth is the foundation of mental health.
Anything that negatively affects your self-worth will indirectly impact your happiness and all areas of your life.
Limiting beliefs are nothing but thoughts, yet they have the power to literally limit who you can be and what you can do — your whole existence.
In today’s post I’ll share ten common limiting beliefs about self-worth (and explain the best way to get rid of them).
Without further ado…
What are limiting beliefs?
As the term suggests, they are beliefs that limit your potential, your growth, and your ability to live life to the fullest.
You can think of them as a ceiling that prevents you from reaching your best self — or a better self, for that matter.
Usually, these beliefs are deeply rooted, and they are subconscious: your rational mind is not aware of them.
This is what makes it so difficult for us to challenge them, or get rid of them.
Once you make these limiting beliefs conscious, you can then begin to work on them — I’ll expand on this at the end of the post.
Common limiting beliefs about self-worth
1. “I deserve X only if…”
For example, you may believe you don’t deserve a fulfilling relationship unless you look a certain way, or unless you have a certain job or lifestyle.
The first and most common limiting belief about your self-worth is the thought that you can only deserve the good things in life once you’ve achieved… anything your mind comes up with.
Although it is true that some things require effort and discipline (and perhaps a bit of luck as well), it’s definitely not true when it comes to self-worth and self-love, and allowing others to love you as well.
2. “My past defines me”
Whether you realize it or not, and whether you like it or not, life is constant growth. The person you are today is not the person you were a year ago.
Do you ever allow the past to define you and your self-worth? Not only is it wrong, it’s also unfair.
Your past is nothing but a series of events that somehow led you to where you are today. But it’s not you. And you are allowed to forget the past and begin a new life anytime you want.
3. “What I own defines me”
This is another very common limiting belief that can affect your self-worth in ways you can’t even imagine.
Chasing material possessions, in itself, can lead to lower life satisfaction; but when you identify with those material possessions, it can seriously affect your mental health and sense of self-worth.
Not only are the things you own giving you a false sense of self-worth — if you ever lose them, it will feel like losing yourself.
4. “People’s thoughts define me”
Humans are social animals that evolved by being in groups. Deep in our brain, the thought of being appreciated by others, of being part of a group, is linked to survival.
The good news: you can survive regardless of what people think of you. The bad news: chances are that other people’s opinions of you are, subconsciously, quite important for you.
Even if it’s strangers or people you barely know. Social media, of course, has made it worse in the sense that we are constantly exposed to their comments, likes and dislikes, and so on.
5. “I can’t be too happy”
The tragedy of too many people is that they cannot allow happiness just to be there; they cannot leave it alone.
It’s a quote by Nathaniel Branden (you can check out my collection of 33 quotes about limiting beliefs here).
In short, some of us are afraid of being too happy. I know: it sounds ridiculous. But it’s true. If our self-worth isn’t healthy, we may believe that we don’t deserve to be happy — and reject it.
6. “I am not enough”
Another very common limiting belief that can crush our self-worth is the thought of not being enough.
This belief can originate from the school system, societal expectations, parents who expected way too much from you… or even your own perfectionism.
But I think it can also be caused by human nature itself — we are driven to always achieve more (some personality types in particular). And so we may think we never have enough; we may think we are not enough.
7. “I am not perfect”
If you think you are not perfect, or if you think your life is not perfect — you are 100 percent right. Life itself is imperfection.
The issue is when we confuse good (or great) with perfect, and then agonize over the fact that we are not perfect. As if it was even possible.
Obviously, it’s perfectionists in particular who tend to struggle with this. But it’s not just perfectionists — it could be anybody, including you. So remember: keep chasing greatness, but be proud of not being perfect.
8. “X isn’t for me”
Have you ever thought of a better lifestyle, love life, or even just a higher level of happiness — then immediately told yourself that, after all, these things belong to “other people”?
As if somehow “other people” were entitled to have a better life, deserved a better life? As if the only variable in life was pure luck?
If you have, and realized you have — well done! This is another limiting belief you want to be aware of, so you can challenge it.
9. “It’s just the way I am”
Years ago I used to struggle with severe depression. It was bad, but there was this toxic thought in my mind that would say: “it’s just the way it is; it’s just the way I am”.
So in a way my mind would justify feeling depressed 24/7. I thought my mental issues were caused by genetics, or were just part of who I was, and there was nothing I could do to change.
Lesson: when facing any problem in your life, your mind can, in a way, surrender, and then come up with reasons as to why those problems cannot be changed.
10. “If only I had…”
If, consciously or subconsciously, you ever believe that your self-worth would improve if only this or that, you are already on the wrong path.
This is because you have the power to improve it. And your self-worth should never depend on any external factors (such as material possessions, or what others think of you, as mentioned earlier).
If you don’t love and respect yourself as much as you should, always look inside. It’s true — being surrounded by people who appreciate you definitely helps. But you can’t rely on that alone.
Other common limiting beliefs
- “I’m not smart enough”
- “Mistakes are bad”
- “Taking risks is bad”
- “Life is too difficult”
- “There is never enough time”
- “It’s too early/late”
- “What if I fail?”
- “People are…”
- “The world is…”
Challenging limiting beliefs about self-worth
Surprisingly, the hardest part isn’t to challenge, or get rid of, your limiting beliefs about self-worth.
The hardest part is to become aware of them. Which is why I’m glad you took the time to read this post (or at least the subtitles).
Perhaps you’ve had some of these beliefs for years, yet you were not fully aware of them. Now you can be.
If you believe you currently have any thoughts or thought patterns that hinder your growth, success, or happiness — then you first need to become aware of them.
Consciously become more aware of your own thoughts and beliefs; notice them; pay attention to them, and feel free to write them down.
When you write down your own negative or limiting beliefs, it’s much easier to challenge them. Just like it’s easier to let go of your fears when you write them down.
You’ll find that some of your limiting beliefs about self-worth are so absurd you won’t even need to challenge them. Awareness itself will make them gradually disappear.
Others, you may need to work on them, and it may take a while to overcome them.
You could do this on your own, but I always recommend therapy — it helps immensely, and there’s no need to do it for years. Sometimes a few sessions are all you need.