Are Your Beliefs Keeping You Stuck?

Several years ago, we had an English Setter named Nelson. He was gentle and patient. He let our grandchildren pull his tail and climb all over him. He only had one real fault.

My Dog Nelson

My Dog Nelson

Whenever the door would open, he would bolt like a convict, drunk with his new-found freedom. It would often take twenty or minutes or more to retrieve him. On more than one occasion, he narrowly escaped being hit by an oncoming car.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a fenced in yard. There was no real way to restrain him—at least in the conventional sense. Just as we were about to decide to find him a new home, we discovered Invisible Fence.

Invisible Barriers

This was the breakthrough we needed. Our local Invisible Fence dealer installed an underground wire that ran the parameter of our yard. He then put a computerized collar on Nelson. It delivered a warning tone and, if needed, a very gentle but effective static correction whenever the dog approached the barrier.

With the dealer’s guidance, we used positive reinforcement to train Nelson. He quickly learned where the boundary was and avoided it. He no longer ran when we opened the door. In fact, we could let him out into the yard without any fear he would run away.

Several months later, we discovered we no longer needed to put the collar on Nelson. Even if we stood on the other side of the barrier and called, he wouldn’t come. If the kids tried to entice him with a treat, he wouldn’t budge. The barrier had moved from the external world of an electronic device, to the internal world of Nelson’s head.

Limiting Beliefs

As I was thinking about this, I wondered, How many of my own beliefs are like this? In other words, they only exist in my mind, but I treat them as though they were “out there”—part of the real world.

I immediately thought of three kinds of limiting beliefs.

  1. Beliefs about myself. I have often been stuck in my life, not because I didn’t have the money, time, or contacts to make progress, but because of some deep-seated assumption.

    For example, early in my career, I thought I was too young to succeed. I sabotaged myself in subtle ways. Now I routinely meet people who think they are too old to succeed.

    But what is the truth? The truth is that age has very little to do with our success. It’s often a story we use—whether we are young or old—to stay stuck.

    Here are some other examples of limiting beliefs we might have about ourselves:

    • “I’m just not technologically-inclined.”
    • “I can’t help it, I’m just big-boned.”
    • “I’ve never been very good with money.”
    • “I guess I’m just not that creative.”
    • “I’m a quitter. I never finish what I start.”
  2. Beliefs about others. It’s not just the beliefs we have about ourselves that keep us stuck, sometimes it’s a belief we have about others.

    I once worked for a man whom I thought was arrogant. Though he was brilliant, he kept his office door shut most of the time. When he did venture out, he barely spoke to anyone. If he passed you in the hallway, he would look away.

    As I got to know him, I discovered that he wasn’t arrogant at all. He just suffered from low self-esteem and, as a result, was extremely shy. As I got to know him he warmed up and became a mentor.

    The truth about him was exactly the opposite of what I initially thought. My limiting belief almost cost me an important relationship.

    Here are examples of limiting beliefs we might have about others:

    • “There’s no use asking. He’s too busy to meet with me.”
    • “He’s just a bean counter. What does he know?”
    • “Someone like her would never go out with a guy like me.”
    • “She’s too introverted to be a good leader.”
    • “He hasn’t responded. I guess he’s upset with me.”
  3. Beliefs about the world. Sometimes the beliefs that keep us stuck are global. I saw this recently when I was talking to one of my friends in the book publishing industry.

    I asked him how it was going. “It’s tough,” he admitted. “With the economic downturn, stores are continuing to close and book sales are down.”

    I don’t doubt things are tough for him. However, I do question whether the economy is as bad as he thinks. He may be suffering from selection bias.

    Because I speak for organizations in a variety of industries, I see different perspectives on the economy. For some, the economy is booming. For others, we’re still in the Great Recession.

    Here are examples of limiting beliefs we might have about the world:

    • “You know how women are. They are so emotional.”
    • “Everyone knows politicians will say anything to get elected.”
    • “I don’t trust management. They’re always trying to screw us.”
    • “Rich people don’t care about anyone but themselves.”
    • “You can’t be successful without compromising your integrity.”

Convenient Excuses

Beliefs are not the culprit. They can be a good thing when they are rooted in reality. But we have to learn to distinguish between reality and excuses.

For example, I used to think of myself as an introvert. It was the reason I didn’t mingle with people at parties or even introduce myself to audience members before I spoke in public.

But it suddenly dawned on me one day that this was a limiting belief. It was keeping me from having the impact I really wanted. It wasn’t the way things were; it was an excuse that was keeping me from growing.

So I changed my belief. I decided that introversion was more of a preference rather than something innate. I could chose which behavior to exhibit—introversion or extroversion—based on what I wanted to achieve.

If you find yourself stuck in some area, ask yourself, “What beliefs do I have about this that are limiting my ability to move forward? Is this really true? Is there something else I need to believe that is more rooted in reality?”

Question: What is a limiting belief you struggle with? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Jackie Ramos Beyer

    Sometimes for me it seems the other people in my life have these crazy beliefs and it’s ignoring their comments and believing in myself that’s the hardest thing. I have started practicing a new mantra that goes “I make good decisions for me” and repeat it which helps build my confidence.

  • Kumar Gauraw

    Hi Michael,

    Reading story of Nelson, it reminded me of the story of training elephants which is very similar. They are tied with a little rope in their childhood which obviously, they can’t break at that age. But, even when they become huge elephants, they still stay tied with a rope and never even try to break out of it.

    The boundaries are in our own minds and I have felt the same thing many many times. Things I thought I could never do, I was able to do way more than that when situation demanded.

    This year has been a hectic year so far for me. A lot more is going on when I compare it with last year and a year before. But interestingly, I am able to accomplish all that with excellence and I am still able to do all that I was able to do last year.

    It’s all in our heads. What we believe to be true in our own minds, becomes truth for us. Thank you for sharing!


    • Michael Hyatt

      The elephant story is a great one. You’re right: same principle.

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Absolutely spot on Mike. We tell ourselves little stories all day long. They can be positive, and freeing, or negative, and confining. We decide, and if we are freeing ourselves, we’ll turn the negative self talk around, and convert it into positive self talk, to make something special in our lives. The invisible fence analogy really does rock, as it is simply an illusion, each of our negative limiting beliefs. Awesome post, thanks so much Michael, and I’ll Kingg it for a nice traffic boost for you. Tweeting too!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ryan. I’m so glad it resonated!

  • Thad Puckett

    This was a needed dose of reality check. I hear the inner voice of doubt way too often. Those closely held beliefs can be unacknowledged but powerful.

  • Don Olund

    Here are some of the limiting beliefs I’ve confronted.
    “I’m too old. I should have started writing in my 30s not 50s.”
    “I’m not going to be taken seriously.”

    Well, I’ve written and published the book. Initial feedback has been very positive. People are asking for more.

    Well done Michael. I sense this blog will resonate with many in your tribe. Thank you for offering the personal examples.

    Looking forward to see you at SCORRE next week!

    • Michael Hyatt

      See you there, Don.

  • Skip Prichard

    Powerful words and great advice.

    Limiting beliefs may be the biggest liability on the balance sheet. Recognizing them and changing our thought pattern is the beginning of the path to success.

    (PS: loved seeing Nelson and am sure you still miss him.)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Skip. We really do miss Nelson. I especially felt in looking through our old photos of him.
      However, the good news is that we are getting a new dog—an Australian Chocolate Labradoodle. He’s being trained now, but we have already named him “Charlie.”

  • Kim Hall

    Fantastic points, Michael! These can run so deeply and create such ingrained habits that I think we often don’t realize they are there holding us back.

    I have always had a tough time in a crowd and felt others were far more interesting, talented, outgoing, etc, than I. This past fall I attended Allume, my first blogging conference, and I was determined to be friendly and outgoing even though I really only personally knew one or two women out of over 400 writers. What an amazing and delightful time I had! Following the conference, I wrote this about changing my perspective and changing my life:

    I learned that really getting the most out of Allume, or any other gathering in life, really learning to discover joy right where we are, is that it is up to us, but not about us. When we truly take interest in others, when we make it about someone else and not us, that we receive and are blessed beyond measure.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great lesson, Kim. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Lisa Evola

    I’ve been called to write and I believe speak as well. It is in the long haul that I feel I am weak. I have no issues writing a blog post, but the thought of a whole book is daunting. I also am an introvert and am scared to death of getting up in front of everyone and forgetting what I was going to say. I know that I need to step out in faith but often the fear of failure keeps me from taking that first step. Thank you for the reminder that our perceived disabilities are simply in our own thoughts.

  • Sampathkumar Iyengar

    Great Post. It is all about LIMITs . Largely Internal Mindset Instilling Temporary boundaries

  • Crenodia

    Hi Michael,

    I love your articles and podcasts. It’s the only email subscription that I’ve managed to keep for over a year. Today’s article has really hit home. My biggest drawback is the belief that I don’t have enough experience to take the next step in my career. While i know that i’m quite intelligent and talented, i fail to see how I can compete with others on the job market. your post has given me that needed push to look inside and change my beliefs!

    Thanks a million!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Excellent, Crenodia. What are some positive affirmations (or truths) you can use to replace the limiting beliefs? For example, the advantage you have as someone with less experience is that you don’t think inside the box. It’s easier for you to challenge the status quo and bring real and lasting change. This is something savvy companies and managers are looking for!

  • Leslie A

    Oh, this is such a great post! It is all about what is the TRUTH. I love this post, because it challenges us to figure out the truth or reality in all areas of our lives, but I would go a step further and suggest that we can find out what is true in God’s word– about what to believe about ourselves, others, and the world. There is a gold mine of truth within its pages and most of us have several copies laying around that we rarely open.This carries over into our spiritual lives, as well. God’s Word is Truth and teaches that Jesus is the only way for us to be saved. It doesn’t really matter what we “believe”, it doesn’t change the truth. I would add that we have become a culture that is so comfortable with lies, we sometimes can’t even discern the truth and this habit is keeping us from so much blessing.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s why I start my day by reading from the Bible. I want to begin with the truth and build on a solid foundation. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  • John Farrar

    Speaking of beliefs keeping you stuck… your emails don’t show pictures on the iPad. I realize the pictures are used to show how many people actually view the email but it would be inaccurate due to this issue. The thought that pictures increased reader volume is correct so many people are false statistics due to this common marketing error.

    This brings me to share a profound but rare reality truth. Sometimes two things are true and you have to make a choice. This appears to be one of those choices… Audience reach or you current analytics.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure what you mean … emails are shown on the iPad unless you have your security setting set so they don’t. Any image causes a ping back to the server. I don’t have any issue with analytics.
      Maybe I am missing something here, so please feel free to clarify.

      • John Farrar

        You likely white listed the URL. That seems to be the difference. It was not showing in my email I believe for that reason, as that would be the security setting.

  • Gustavo

    Michael, every leader should know how to understand his/her own belief system and his/her team’s beliefs. Unfortunately, many leaders and human resources professionals continue controlling the behavior and can’t understand the others beliefs. The most effective way of changing the behavior is changing the belief. Great article!

    • Michael Hyatt

      So true. I have certainly witnessed this in my own life.

  • Silas Achu

    Wow, I have to print this and put it on a wall. I have been so blessed by your writings Michael. I am currently working on building my own platform on Personal Leadership. I have believed that I am too young to do what I want to do – but decided I will do it anyway. To be honest I still struggle with that.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks! Here’s an exercise for you: Answer this question: “What advantages do you have by being young?” Write down your answers and review them whenever the negative thought gets in your head.

      • Silas Achu

        Thanks for the tip. I will do just that.

      • Jon D Harrison

        such an awesome question.

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    I struggle with that belief I don’t really know what I’m doing. I received a job offer this week that I didn’t even apply for. When sitting down with the COO, she told me she was confident in what I could bring to the table and their company. After the meeting, my insecurities flared up, and I’m still dealing with them. Does she really think I know that much about communications? Why would she pick me? Blah. Blah. Blah. I realize part of it is because a man recently told me I needed to finish my college degree to succeed. He’s so wrong. Thanks for this post today.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree, he is so wrong!

    • Jon D Harrison

      Congrats on the offer!

      • Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks, Jon. I’m praying about. I’m self-employed right now, but it’s a great opportunity.

  • Tim Kuppler

    Great post. Beliefs can definitely limit our potential. It also works in reverse.

    Sometimes the first show of confidence and trust is belief. It’s very powerful for a leader to say “I believe in you” or a teammate to say “I believe” in what we are doing. Belief ideally precedes results in a great relationship or in a great workplace culture. It shouldn’t always take results or proving everything will work before taking action. I still remember a direct reports standing up and saying “I believe in what we are doing” long before we showed results in a new position I held. It gave confidence for his peers to “believe” and gave me confidence that we were making progress as a team.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great point, Tim. Thanks.

  • Matt McWilliams

    2 things Michael…

    1. You just reminded me of the time I was running in Spring Hill and this huge Rottweiler started running towards me. There was no fence and I…was a little uncomfortable. Needless to say he got about 15 feet from me and then…stopped. I wish I could have seen the look on my face.

    2. The most dangerous limiting belief one can have is “realism.”

    It doesn’t sound as bad as some that you listed.

    “I’ve never been very good with money.” is flat out negative.

    “Well, I’ll never be a millionaire,” is disguised as realism but it’s nothing more than a limiting belief.

    “I’m content with weighing 220-230″ when you can be even healthier is a limiting belief masquerading as realism.

    “It’s unrealistic to think I could lead a team. I have no training.” Same thing.

    I had to learn to be utterly unrealistic. The only people who’ve ever changed the world were unrealistic. Black people as equals in America? A phone like a computer? A microchip? A free India? A motorized personal vehicle? Crazy talk.

    This quote sums up how I feel about realism:

    • Jon D Harrison

      spot on Matt.

  • Charles Hooper Jr

    It is funny to me that at times I think “I’m too young to do..” and other times I think “I’m too old to do…”. All of this depends on who I am around and see what they do. There are so many stories of people who, despite the limiting belief of “age competency”, are able to accomplish great things. Age many times is irrelevant to whether we can accomplish something.

  • Zechariah Newman

    Great post Michael. The limiting belief I deal with is that I need to earn approval. What is funny is the more I am myself and remove the mask of false-self the more progress in life I am making. Thankfully I am beating this or I never would have started my platform a year ago.

  • Chris Lawson

    Great post!!

  • Natalie Cone

    I love this post! This is something I’ve realized myself. Limiting beliefs such as, “I don’t have time to write” or “I’m not good enough to be published.” I am now a stay-at-home mom of two boys. I am editing my first novel and have several short stories published. The less time I have, the more valuable it is. Therefore I get more done during those small increments of writing time than I ever did before!

  • Pat68

    “As I got to know him, I discovered that he wasn’t arrogant at all. He just suffered from low self-esteem and, as a result, was extremely shy. As I got to know him he warmed up and became a mentor.”

    These sentences struck me, because you say he would become a mentor. So his low self-esteem did not prevent him from being able to help others. You just took the time to get to know him and were able to benefit from the relationship. I believe you both benefited here. He probably grew by leaps and bounds being able to help someone else and you were helped as well. This goes to the heart of your post well–the beliefs that can hold us back.

  • Noel

    This is so true Michael. The limiting belief I have about myself is that “I may not be cut out for this” but looking back, I realized that I was saying these words not because it’s true but because I was making an excuse not to give my all because I was afraid to fail. This is great stuff Michael. I really learn a lot from reading your blog and listening to your podcast. Continue creating great content!

    • Jon D Harrison

      The fear is a tough one! I bet the people who really know you do not agree that you are not cut out for what you are doing! I suspect you are great.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    There’s another category, I think…sometimes we choose beliefs in order to be accepted, and we express those beliefs in both verbal and nonverbal form.

    I’ve been in many groups of people in which the de facto leaders had a negative attitude, but were ‘cool’, and those around them aped what they said, and how they said it. Rather like the Dufflepuds in C.S. Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.

    Not only did this instill negativity, but it also diminished the capacity for independent thought. Eventually many of the followers came to resemble remoras, looking for faster and cooler sharks to which to cling.

    Beliefs expressed through nonverbal communication can be even harder to deal with because one isn’t always aware of them. Posture, gesture, style of dress, eye contact (“You eyeballin’ me?”) all reflect what we believe…and both create and reinforce those beliefs.

  • Jeff Andrechyn

    Great post. I always read these thinking of my friends and who a post like this would help without really asking “what is holding me back.” You have to be brave to answer that. Here I go, 1) I’ve lost for so long and I’m always going to lose. 2) I come from bad stock 3) I’m not smart enough to see that my ideas are not good ones. 4) I’m paying now for past sins.

    • Deborah Ploski

      Hi Jeff,
      Limiting beliefs, as Michael puts it, are often deceptions. To me, it sounds like what’s holding you back are flat-out lies.

      You may or may not believe in God and his Son Jesus, but please allow me to offer a message of truth. In Jesus, your heritage is one of 1) victory; 2) royal birth; 3) wisdom and creativity; and 4) grace despite past failures.


  • Vania Hardy

    I’ve been guilty of allowing those limiting beliefs to keep me from potential friendships. Usually, once I overcome those beliefs about certain people, they become some of my best friends.

    My favorite example was when I met a certain girl at a camp where I volunteered. For no particular reason, I thought she didn’t like me. However, I pushed through those thoughts and became determined to be her friend. She’s become one of my best friends since then. I even wound up setting her up with a guy friend of mine, and now they’re happily married.

  • JimOtis

    I love this post. As with many of your posts, Michael, it inspires me. I’m wondering about the book business illustration. If any industry is in transition (imo, for the benefit of readers and authors alike) it’s publishing. At what point does one recognize it may not be a limiting belief and the need for a renewed “I can do this” attitude that is hindering them, but the need for a whole new interpretation and approach to the problem. That idea may be inherent in your premise, but some folks don’t get that. I get emails from spammers who, apparently, truly believe if they just send out enough spam they’ll get rich. They believe people buy that way, and they can build a successful, enduring business by such means. They’re wrong. They can believe all they want, but they’re still wrong. Certain sales organizations today are still hiring people and sending them out to knock on doors or dial for dollars. They believe, but they’re wrong, too. I guess I’m saying that discerning whether your belief is limiting, and exists only in your own mind, or is an inkling of a major shift in reality, is critically important to how you need to respond to that particular belief.

  • John R. Meese

    I totally relate to the “too young to be successful” mentality. I was promoted to leadership positions at an early age, often meaning I was in charge of people much older than me. It was rough, because some of my coworkers straight up told me I was too young to be in charge, only confirming my inner doubts. It’s taken a long time to become comfortable with myself in leadership situations, that is definitely a limiting belief I still struggle with.

  • Kathy Mulkey

    I heard of a behavior modification study once where an aquarium was fitted with a glass partition. On one side, they put a fish (not sure what kind) that ate other, small fish. On the other side the put a bunch of guppies. After multiple tries at trying to eat the guppies but running into the glass partition the larger fish gave up. The partition was then removed and the guppies swam freely all around the larger fish. He eventually starved because he was convinced he couldn’t eat them.

    I feel like that sometimes. I look at various opportunities but believe they are unachievable because of bad previous experiences or lies I tell myself.

    Thanks for this post, Mike.

  • David

    Hey Michael. Just wanted to agree on the extrovert/introvert assumption. I too have conluded the distinction largely one of choice. I’m likely “known” and more an extrovert, which I find a bit amusing because I really do often prefer my “alone-time” most of the time. I like people and easily put on my extrovert clothes. But it does seem more of choice than most people realize.

  • Philip Cachero

    A big one I’m fighting with and it’s impacting various areas of my life… pursing “the ask” after the rejection (or non-response). The limiting beliefs: “they’re not interested or too busy since they didn’t respond” or “I’m not in their league” or “i’m not good enough”. Nobody likes rejection. I can now recognize the negative story but still need to work on changing it and making it stick!

    Thanks for the inspiration Michael!

  • Jon D Harrison

    I deal with a fair amount of self doubt, disguised too often as humility. Being raised in a Christian household, Pride or even the appearence of it, was seen as something to avoid at all costs.
    Combine this belief with a more introverted, introspective, thoughtful style (high C on the DiSC, INFJ on the MBTI) I find myself too often selling myself short.

    Overtime it leads to discouragement or prevents one from speaking up/stepping up. I easily dismiss my own ideas a silly, and disqualify myself for the anything even gets off of the ground.

    Somtimes, it really does feel like a crushing weight or huge wall to scale.
    The past two years have improved so much, thanks to your podcast, encouragement, and the friendship of many others who are like minded.

    Now I am starting to do some crazy (but fun & authentic) things – all with the goal of helping others be successful! (Example – how can the Video game Galaga teach you to overcome fear & be Awesome?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Jon. By the way, I am an INFJ—or that is what I believe I am. ;-)

  • LadyJevonnahEllison

    As a Leadership Coach who helps women find their authentic voice and purpose, I find that a limiting belief is that they just don’t have what it takes. When we break past the barrier that they are enough and can accomplish what they choose to work on, it’s amazing to see their eyes light up with new clarity and direction. I like what Kent Julian says, “We OWN our response.”

    • Jon D Harrison

      How great to see the breakthrough in others firsthand! It’s life changing work that you do : )

  • Bob Kuebler

    I watch kids die because of limiting beliefs. They feel like a failure in school so they join a gang who “believes in them.” Buffalo has been saddled with the limiting beliefs that the city is one the most impoverished, segregated and violent cities in America. High school graduation hovers with limited beliefs around 50%. We believe mentoring is the answer. We need your help to take the limited beliefs of young men away.

    We have a program called “Ballers Breakfast.” Young men between 19-24 will get a breakfast, mentoring relationship and some basketball for about 4 hrs on Saturday. If folks would take a couple of seconds to vote for us, we believe we will win some help by way of a grant for $25,000. Michael could you do me a favor and vote for Ballers Breakfast at: There are 5 organizations collaborating to give young men a chance to climb above poverty, segregation and violence. It’s easy for each of you to vote 10 times per day for Ballers Breakfast.
    Thanks for all you do, we appreciate. Your book Platform is a “Life Textbook for anyone with a message. Thanks for writing it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Bob. This sounds like a worthy cause. Unfortunately, when I went to vote, the State Farm Neighborhood Assist app told me it would receive my Facebook profile and friend list. I don’t feel comfortable with that. I wonder how many votes you lose from people who feel like I do. So sorry.

      • Bob Kuebler

        Thanks for going through the process. They have explained to us that State Farm does not use the information. The answer is too long to post here. I think if folks went directly from their Facebook page they may not have to go through that whole process. I appreciate you efforts. If you have any ideas that could help us please let me know. Personally I have seen too many young men die on our streets. I know what it’s like to feel the final heartbeat of a 14 yr old who had a bullet in his brain. The limiting beliefs of young men in Buffalo will be destroyed!

  • Phil

    We often think that beliefs dictate behavior, but in reality there is growing research which shows that behavior may have a greater impact on beliefs than originally thought. We do what we believe, but we more often believe what we do. Beliefs often arise to support a particular behavior. For instance, “I prefer not to be around groups of people” therefore I must be shy. This becomes a reinforcing positive loop and a justification for our behavior. Nelson came to believe through his behavior, we often come to “believe” because of our perceived experience. Change your behavior, change your belief.

    • Michael Hyatt

      This is an excellent point. You can approach it from either end. I think the main thing is to be aware and then be intentional.

      • Phil

        I agree that awareness is critical. But we can “believe” and not act, but we cannot act without believing (although the belief may operate at the unconscious level). The real problem is that we have a dual processing going on. Your conscious mind can and often does hold beliefs that are contrary to your actions. Bottom line, belief cannot be separated from action. Your belief was changed not because you now believed you were more extroverted but because your extroversion proved your previous belief was not accurate.

  • Susan Bailey

    We had a dog just like Nelson, sweetest dog ever and boy did she like to run away! This was the days before leash laws in our area and she’d wander 5 miles from home. An electronic fence would have been a big help! English setters are the best!

  • Daniel Decker

    Love this post. What we believe is what we can achieve (or not).

    For me, I’ve been struggling with being in front of the curtain vs being behind it. Meaning, I am great at helping others build their platform but I have not focused much on my own. Time and some self limiting beliefs contributed to that but I am working to overcome that by doing things that push / force me out of my comfort zone…. and it’s working. : )

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Daniel. You definitely belong in front of the curtain. You and Robert Smith are on a similar trajectory!

  • Julie Sunne

    This is a powerful post, Michael! I have several limiting beliefs I’ve identified. But perhaps the biggest stumbling block is my belief that I have nothing to say that others would want to hear. I have had people tell me differently, so I need to refocus my thinking based on that feedback and the truth that God has something for each of us to impart.

    As you have spoken/written on so succinctly: we will succeed where are passions, talents, and the market intersect. God has blessed me with certain talents, He’s given all of us a ready market to mine in those we journey alongside (physically and virtually), and He’s instilled in me a passion to encourage others to embrace His grace to live well in this broken world. Now it’s time to quit second guessing and step out boldly.

  • Doug Isenberg

    I’m not sure I agree (or, perhaps I misunderstand) your comment about being an introvert. I don’t know that you can choose to be an extrovert if you are an introvert — though you can certainly recognize that you are an introvert (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and nevertheless mingle with people at parties or even introduce yourself to audience members before speaking in public. Susan Cain’s book on introverts, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” provides excellent insight on this! See

  • Jennifer Perrine

    Wow, right on target for me; the exact things I’ve been thinking about. I start grad school in about 6 weeks after having been out of school for 20 years. All of those self doubts, thinking everyone else will be so much smarter and ahead of the curve than I am. That might be true, but it might also NOT be true. Does it matter so long as I am me and do my best?

  • Bruce R. Cross

    This post hit a nerve (with me and 62 others). Recently, I took two steps to move in the direction of a desire / a need in my life that were previously on hold due to limiting beliefs. I was gently confronted by the truth offered by a friend, agreed with his assessment, and when I decided to step in the desired direction it felt as if one of those lead vests a dentist places on you while getting an Xray was lifted. Good thoughts…thanks.Bruce

  • Danielle Aaronson


    I LOVE this analogy. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. At Luck Companies, we utilize Insights as our Personality Assessment tool. Internally, we have done much work around the language and reminding people that it is a preference, not a box. I was with an external group last week and now, reflecting on the conversation I had with them, I owe them an updated conversation re-emphasizing that each assessment provides, as you said, a preference. I will include some dialogue around the invisible fences we build for ourselves.


    Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson

  • Paul

    Awesome post! The challenge is recognizing that you have such a limiting belief. Until somehow you (or someone else) challenges the result of the belief, you may not recognize it. Like Nelson we all get these beliefs because at one time they were true, or were based on life experiences that applied to us. Some of life’s lessons teach us to be safe (like stopping Nelson from running out into the street), but what we do with the lesson can limit us or protect us. I guess the the idea is to challenge one’s beliefs from time to time, to ensure that they are still positive ones and not limiting ones. Thanks Michael.

  • lnmore

    I often believe that “there is nothing I can do about it”. I hand my power away in many situations.

  • Vasiliy Mountian

    The aggorant man from your story – this is me! I like saw at the mirror! OMG!!! Thank you!

  • John R. Salkowski

    Michael, thank you for another great article. Thanks for sharing. As I break into the blogging, speaking, leadership world, I sometimes tend to think, I’m not a celebrity or someone famous to make a difference in others lives. But I do have a past, past experience that can help others. I constantly am pushing through these beliefs and know that I can and will make a difference. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

  • Bill Butler

    Hi Michael,
    I often told myself I’m not capable. But persistence has taught me otherwise. I’m capable of anything I put my mind to. It may take time, but anything worth having is worthy of the work to get it.

    I also find what silences the “what if?” voice is this thought: I would rather thrive than survive.
    Life is sacred, it’s not to be lived scared.

    Have a great week!

  • Patricia Zell

    Timely post again, Michael, especially since I’m coming out of a season of introversion that started when my husband passed eighteen months ago. God called me to Him first to deal with grief and then to prepare for the next season in my life. I found a new writing format that I love. The stories that I struggled with as novels and ended up putting away have found life as screenplays . Since last October, I have written five screenplays (a franchise of four romantic comedies and THE STORY OF GOD) that I will be registering with WGA within two weeks. So, the writing is basically done, and the work of producing the scripts is just beginning. Your points are well-taken and I’m going for it. I have something of value that I believe other people will recognize and that will bring enjoyment to my big world.

  • Brittany Ritcher

    So absolutely true! Limiting beliefs are the worst…and it takes courage to go ahead and prove them wrong. My biggest limiting belief was when I thought, “Oh…no one would pay me to help them improve…or at least they wouldn’t pay me THAT much”. Getting over that thought, realizing my true worth and the value that I was bringing to others, was incredible. I realized that you must try anyways, despite the belief. The limiting belief is rooted in fear, and fear paralyzes action. And then you are stuck and NOTHING happens. Funny that you should mention age, I recently reflected on the same topic ( world does not operate with a Universal Timeline – and thank goodness that’s true! Otherwise we would all know when our major life events would occur and life would be predictable and boring. We can each set our own path – get married at 20, own your business at 40…or vice versa! It’s a beautiful thing. Thank you Michael for all that you do! xox

    -Brittany Ritcher

  • A. Clark Gaither, MD

    I run up against this everyday in interactions with my patients. Many remain stuck in the past due to events that happened years, sometime decades ago. They are so stuck that they have come to believe that they are no longer able to change. While others may feel they need to change they are loath or seemingly helpless to do so. They can’t seem to make an actual decision to change. It is cognitive paralysis of sorts and a monumental tragedy that wastes human potential.
    Great post Michael.

  • Justin Phillips

    Great word Michael! Many of us are raised with limited belief in ourselves and our God given ability. We must reprogram our mind by following our dreams. Two things will determine where we all will be five years from now…. The books we read and the people we hang with!

    God bless,
    Justin Phillips

  • Kent Julian

    For me, it’s not necessarily my beliefs that get me stuck as much as it’s focusing on the wrong thing. For instance, I might be focusing on the behavior of one my children rather than the cause of the behavior. Sometime the “in your face” grabs my attention more than the “subtle, but more substantial” reality. This is a bigger sticking point than beliefs, at least for me.

  • steveborgman

    My limiting belief that I most need to change is that I don’t have enough to offer to charge what I need to be successful with my platform. The shift from being a hobbyist to being a pro is the one I need to make in my mind and gut first. And I also need to act my way into that belief daily through my actions toward my goals.

  • Ryan

    Thanks for the post Michael…another home run in my book! Yeah I totally agree. It occurred to me a few years ago that one person I constantly talk to all day was filled with nothing but negative thoughts…me. The conversation I have with myself all day about what I thought about, struggles, problems, etc really weighed me down. For example, on the way to work (5:30am) i always say out loud “Dang I’m tired”. I caught myself saying that one morning and said out loud “wait a minute, I’m not tired I went to bed early last night and slept about 8 hours, I feel fine”. Talk about speaking something into existence. I still do it sometimes but always correct myself. We definitely have to be mindful of that ongoing conversation with ourselves.

  • Michael D.

    Not following your logic in #3. If your friend is working in the publishing industry and it’s struggling what does that have to do with selection bias? If you asked him how is the world going instead of how it’s going with him – I may see your point…

  • kimanzi constable

    For years I told myself that all I could do was manual labor. I told myself there was no way I could self-publish a book and be a success. Once I got over those beliefs the results were life-changing. I’m writing this from my home in Maui, Hawaii :)

  • John Patrick Weiss

    I love fountain pens, moleskine notebooks, and simplicity. Computers and technology were uncomfortable for me. They were my invisible fence. But I started learning about building Platforms and eventually dove in with a WordPress blog. I joined Platform University and found I can indeed use technology. So, I still enjoy my fountain pens and journals, but also my MacBook Pro, iPad and blog! Your post was a great reminder to work past our self limiting thoughts! Thanks!

  • Christianna Hellwig

    Thank you for that post! I confess I often struggled with the thought that nobody liked me and that I had always best to keep my conversations as short as possible so as not to cause them any inconvenience. In fact, I was so paranoid about causing people inconveniences and so sure that they didn’t like me that I avoided people in general and found out afterwards that I had hurt them because they thought I didn’t like them! What a mistake! I still struggle with these feelings, but by God’s grace I shall and am beginning to, overcome them! It is so good to hear you say this! Thank you.


    I don’t feel limited by labeling myself as an Introvert. I used to feel limited before coming to realize I am introverted and not understanding why I would feel so drained at the end of a day filled with meetings and people. After reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, I now know under what conditions I work best and I structure my day accordingly. I agree with you that most of us introverts can choose to behave in an extroverted manner. When I’m delivering a presentation, no one would guess I’m an introvert.

  • Ray Edwards

    It’s embarrassing to admit, but for many years a belief that limited me was: “I’m the only one who cares.” This usually came up at work, where I felt like no one cared about the end product of what we were doing than I. This resulted in my believing, “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.”

    Not only was this a disempowering belief, it was false. I eventually did figure that out. Other people cared just as much as I did, or even more. When I began to release them to demonstrate that stewardship in a way that was meaningful to them, our radio stations began to achieve some remarkable things.

    In my experience, one of the amazing things about limiting beliefs is how ridiculous they appear in retrospect. Thanks for a great post Michael.

    • Kathleen Thompson

      I had that belief as well, Ray. And isn’t it such a trap?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ray. I’ve had those beliefs, too.

      Amazingly, in discussing this post with Gail today on the way to the airport, we uncovered a coupe of more limiting beliefs. I’m just going to keep peeling the onion!

  • Alex Flores

    Great article Michael. I think the biggest limiting belief for me is mostly concerning others. Whenever I release content, the first thing I think is that no one will be interested or in any way consider me a credible source since I’m young and don’t portray a typical guitarist’s image. This mode of thinking seems to follow me around even when the content is well-received and “successful.” It’s not something I have ever really articulated prior to reading this article and I’m very much challenged to think and pray through this. Thanks!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Alex. I love hearing that.

  • prestonshaw

    Michael, this is huge for me as a fundraiser. I see it in my own life and the fundraisers I work with on my blog. The biggest limiting belief I struggle with is believing people don’t want to donate their had earned money. I’m continually reminded this is false by the generosity of people! Thanks for the great post!

  • Kathleen Thompson

    So often our limiting beliefs are subconscious, and it is difficult to identify them. There are those on the surface, and then those that are buried deep. I have found that writing first thing in the morning (before my thinking brain has a chance to take completely over) surfaces these unconscious beliefs, thus allowing me to take action. While I am writing, I often decide on my actions so that I am more likely to actually do them.
    Thank you for raising this important issue, Michael. Negative beliefs can do more than limit our growth and success. They can also create stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and disease. Helpful beliefs can bring peace, rest, and healing.

  • Tara

    Wow, thank you. I struggle with #1. The example you use with introversion and extroversion, and not mingling or introducing myself, “She’s too introverted to be a leader”, etc… me “to a T”. The way you’ve put this, #1 and the Convenient Excuses portion if this email are most helpful and have definitely given me something to meditate on. Deep down inside I know that I am smart, capable, was born to do something great; bit these beliefs, I’ve let them get the best of me. I am 34 years into my life and not happy or proud of where I am in my life ( personal or career)… this read encourages me to challenge myself to change my current beliefs about myself… it’s not too late.

  • kcr

    I totally agree with your points. Thank you for the examples they really make it clear. My example is quite different than the ones you listed, but I guess many people has/ had such an experience. I worked under the same manager for many many years and we became real friends and cared for each other. He trained me very well, share all kinds of information. actually he became my mentor more than a manager. then he left the company and started his own business. but before leaving he made me believe that i would not be able to get my benefits or any other rights from the new management. so i left with him and joined him in his company, knowing he would protect my rights and we would have great business as he has very well connections and support from the market. so i was in a dream… just 2-3 months ago I realised he did not have big plans for both of us as promised. he had his plans and i could just hang around. actually business wise he was not any better than me, just he had more experience and capital. all these years I believed I needed to be with him to survive and have safe income and have solid future plans. Now I know I am totally capable of having my own business or at least have a high income job until i come up with my own business idea.
    I still care for him and respect him for all the things he taught me till now, but I lost so much time by sticking under his shadow. it is time to move on as an individual. I don’t need a protector or initiator.

  • Sharon

    My limiting belief? I can’t do this. But I’m better trained, have more experience than most people that do. Thanks for sharing…I’ve had a bout of doubt lately.

  • FrStephen Lourie

    I have had a belief about myself for years that humility was the same as self-rejection. Put no confidence in the flesh, renounce yourself. But I came to realize that being created in the image of God means that somehow I reflect God, the way a fogged up mirror in the bathroom reflects my image. That is not me, but an image of me (icon=image). God loves me as I am. Not the person I might become or wish I was.
    I realized in other words that I was an iconoclast. (Icon breaker) I was denegrating God’s work. We are taught to love our enemies, to love our neighbor as our self. So how can I hate myself? I must love all people, including myself, without excusing my own fallen-ness or my own sin.
    Since that time I am convinced that many people struggle with self-hatred but disguise it with smiles, confidence, continual glad talk and other cover ups. We like Adam and Ever are still running into the bushes and trying to cover ourselves. Time to come out of the bushes and run to God.

  • Tasha Cole McKinlay

    Being able to choose your interactions, behaviors, or responses is dead on. For me, it took outside intervention to realize that I ~could~ make that choice, rather than to simply respond in a knee-jerk fashion to stimuli around me. Up until that point, I was operating on learned negative behaviors, picked up from others in my life. Once the ability to choose was realized, I was able to selectively build a new “me”, keeping the behaviors I liked, tossing those that I didn’t, and picking up new, more positive, behaviors from those whom I admired. I’m much happier with who I am now, and I continue to learn, improve on Self, and grow.

  • Dr. Christy Demetriades

    Again, another insightful post that wisely directs the reader to look at issues of the heart in a kind and honest manner. It’s so true – as a man thinketh, so is he. Thank you for this excellent reminder!

  • Heather Kinzie

    Excellent post…when are we going to start telling ourselves that we can and should as opposed to we shouldn’t and can’t?

  • Astraport

    Hi Michael,
    Please, try my new app for self-improvement – visualife.newmobapp + com

  • Ken Davis

    I miss Nelson. Great post Michael!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ken. I miss him, too. But we should Charlie, our new dog, next month. I can’t wait!

  • Dale Callahan

    Constant battle! Part of what helps me is when I realize EVERYONE has them – some just push through. I have to talk myself through them looking to others who have done the same for inspiration.

  • Matthew Casteel

    I JUST had a wonderful experience moving past a limiting belief. I heard about an incredible opportunity to serve a high profile leader in a virtual assistant capacity. I saw the “posting” come in and was initially excited thinking I should “go for it” then immediately said, “no way, they’d never hire me. There are others who know more, do more… Who am I to think…”
    But I decided to push past the doubt, put my resume together (thanks Dan Miller), and make the initial contact. And.. I landed an interview today. It was great. It boosted my confidence and was such a rewarding experience. I’ll find out more next Tuesday, but even if I don’t get the position, I’ve already won the battle of limiting beliefs today! Thanks for your encouragement and teachings Michael Hyatt and others.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Matthew. That is terrific!

      • Matthew Casteel

        Thanks. I’ll reply Tuesday for “…the rest of the story” :)

  • Nadia McDonald

    I absolutely love this article Michael! It helped me introspect my belief system. There are so many beliefs conveyed in society. For example; one can’t be successful without a college education. Another one is that all blacks live below the poverty line and are not equal with whites. So many theories are out there and people live by them.

  • Greg Hickman

    Great post Michael! I used to tell myself I’m bad with money and that if I made a lot in a product launch I’d spend it like an idiot. So I got an accountant and am always aware of the incoming revenue. things are just fine! :)

  • Gemma Fisher

    As a dog trainer I’m sad to read the way that you dealt with Nelson’s problem, and wish I could have helped with a more positive solution. He looks like a very sweet boy from the photograph – do I take it he’s no longer with you?

    The points you make from this story are as usual excellent, but if anyone were to be struggling with a similar problem I would love them to seek advice from my website where I will be writing a blog on an alternative way of dealing with such a problem.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, sadly he died a few years ago.

      • Gemma Fisher

        I’m so sorry to hear that, he obviously left a big impression on your family. I see from a later comment that you’re looking forward to welcoming a puppy soon – exciting time! If you’d be interested in any help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch :)

        • Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Gemma. That puppy is with an amazing trainer now that my daughter used with her dog.

          • Gemma Fisher

            That’s great to hear, and I if I caused any offence with my initial post I’m very sorry. I’m reminded of one of your podcasts that I listened to recently about re-reading a message before checking send – I hope I didn’t come across as rude or patronising. I’m a big fan of all of the work that you do, it’s really helping me become a better leader for my team :)

          • Michael Hyatt

            No problem at all. I wasn’t offended, and I didn’t think your message was rude. Great conversation!

          • Gemma Fisher

            I’m glad :) Hope you have a great weekend with your family planned, and your new puppy! Can’t wait to see pictures at some stage :)

  • Sally Ferguson

    It’s easy to know in my head that I should value my worth, but those limiting beliefs keep showing up everywhere I turn!

  • Reid

    Michael, thank you for writing this article to help us recognize our limiting beliefs. Once we are aware of the beliefs we have, of which do not serve us, what should we do to change those beliefs?

  • Lindsay Kaplan

    What an interesting connection to draw between Nelson’s behavior and our own ways of tricking and training ourselves — limiting ourselves. Ironically, the innate inability for us to let things go and shake off our hangups can limit us most. In the professional world, it’s important to approach even the most contentious relationships with a fresh look each day, because relationships can’t improve if you hold back and holding back can’t propel you forward!

  • Darlene Pawlik

    For many years, I believed I was product of rape and not worthy of value, an object to be used and abused. In my twenties, I began a young mother’s Bible study and began to change my thinking to the thoughts God had for me. I provided home education for my five children and helped a few others graduate high school. Four of my five have owned their own businesses. My youngest, at 17 is the youngest Shock-Knife instructor. He will own his self defense business. My husband and I have rentals and volunteer our time and energy helping others. My life matters. My life is not worth less than others because of the way I was conceived. Thank God our brains are neoplastic. If I can do it, you can too. Thank you for the post, Michael.

  • Alberto Rubín Martín

    Of course, our beliefs limit us. When we are really aware of that (which it is not easy), we can start to build or life and have a happy and good life

  • Dave Cornell

    Michael, I can relate to your post so well. I am actually working to build my platform around this very topic. The process really seems to be a one step forward two steps back as I find my thoughts hindering my progress. I speak specifically about being courageous in your journey and find it fascinating to have it play out in my everyday life as I build. In one of your previous posts or podcasts you talked about writing from the perspective of the struggler and that is definitely me! Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  • Archie Manley

    Exceptional Article! What we believe holds our destiny. Whether we believe life sucks, or life is wonderful both determine our

  • Archie Manley

    Exception Article Micheal! What we believe holds our destiny. Whether we
    believe life sucks, or life is wonderful both determine our

  • King Tubbo

    Wow! Just came across this article and this windy Sunday (Mother’s Day) and feel as if I have been handed a key. I have been wondering and analyzing and praying and reflecting on why I cannot seem to make the changes that I want to make in my life, and your article struck home. Certain beliefs are holding me back, but the reason that I never realized this before is because I did not treat them as beliefs but rather as reality! Thank you for this article, it truly has opened a door for me (a door with some long dormant desires waiting patiently on the other side).
    Incidentally, while undergoing the Ignatian Exercises (layman’s version — one hour per night for several months), I began to give thanks to the Lord every single night for something good or great or just helpful that happened to me that day. Lately, I have been tripping across articles or having discussions or even just overhearing conversations that have helped me gain clarity about difficulties in my life and how to overcome them. This article is definitely one of them, so you get thanks for writing it and the big guy gets thanks for helping me find it.

  • Dale Church

    This article brings to mind a quote from a friend of mine. “I’m not who I think I am, I’m not who you think I am, I’m who I think you think I am.” ~ John Crowe jr.

  • Kevin Scott

    Love the stuff Michael! Been following your work since I was 17, you are one of the people who inspired me to go out and create my own impact in this world. Cheers to you. I hope to meet you some day.

  • Chris Hargreaves

    Great observations here Michael about the way in which our own beliefs can limit us far more than reality does.