When working to improve our mindset, it’s really important to learn how to deal with negative self-talk and limiting beliefs.
Using journal prompts to question limiting beliefs gets you into the habit of being self-aware so that you can learn to identify them, rationalise with them, and move past them.
Journaling is an effective way to deal with limiting beliefs, as it helps you take a step back, analyse your thoughts, and be more objective.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are beliefs we hold about ourselves that hold us back.
In many ways, they prevent us from reaching our full potential.
These beliefs usually pertain to our own shortcomings – or shortcomings we believe we have – and stop us from making decisions and taking steps in our life that could ultimately lead to us feeling truly fulfilled and happy.
They can nestle away quietly in our unconscious mind, subtly dictating how we act or what we do, or can sit very obviously in our conscious minds.
Working through limiting beliefs can be really useful alongside shadow work in order to heal from the past, feel more balanced, and improve your outlook on life, which can ultimately lead to you finding your purpose or simply living a happy life.
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
Limiting beliefs can arise for a number of reasons, such as:
- Parental influence
- Comments from others
- Morals and values (both our own and those instilled on us by others)
- Social media
We all have limiting beliefs. It’s not uncommon to question your ability or qualities – you’re human! However, when you allow these limiting beliefs to hold you back and impact your choices, you may never fully reach your true potential.
They may even begin to effect your mental health and mindset overall.
In order to overcome and move past these limiting beliefs, it’s important to learn how to spot them and unpack them.
How do you rewire limiting beliefs?
Overcoming limiting beliefs and rewiring your mindset all boils down to self-awareness.
In order to overcome a limiting belief, we first have to recognise it for what it is, then we can challenge it, and replace it with positive self-belief.
Here are the steps I personally use to rewire limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.
- Notice the limiting belief: Be self-aware. Spot limiting beliefs. If you have that annoying little voice inside your head telling you that you’re unworthy or unable to do something your rational brain knows you’re capable of, this is probably a limiting belief. (Meditation is great for getting in tune with your thoughts, self-awareness, and spotting limiting beliefs.)
- Acknowledge: Acknowledge the limiting belief for what it is.
- Question your limiting belief: Once you’ve spotted a limiting belief, isolate it. Write it down. Now we can question it. Using journal prompts is a great way to do this if you’re stuck – I’ve included some later in this post.
- Let go of the limiting belief: Forgive yourself for holding this belief, take a deep breath, and let it go. You simply don’t need it anymore.
- Replace the self-doubt: Replace this old belief with a new one. Using positive affirmations can be really good for this exercise. It doesn’t have to be outlandish or unrealistic – accept yourself for who you really are. Realise that you’re okay with your abilities and that nothing can hold you back.
While this process can seem long-winded, it’s actually very quick to do in your journal or even just in your own mind.
Once you get into the habit of confronting limiting beliefs and negative self-talk, your self-esteem will begin to rise and you’ll see a whole new world of possibilities open up for you.
This is why I include a whole guide on how to overcome negative self-talk with my Shadow Work for Beginners workbook. It really is so healing and liberating.
What are some common limiting beliefs?
If you’re struggling to pinpoint where you limiting beliefs starts and your rational, honest perception of yourself ends, firstly, I recommend listening to how you feel when you think these thoughts.
If you feel sad or vulnerable, this is probably a limiting belief as it comes from a sad, vulnerable place.
However, if you kind of shrug your shoulders and feel pragmatic about it, it’s probably just your own realisations about who you are as a person.
For example, I know I’m not an athlete, and I’m okay with that… because I’m not! It doesn’t upset me to think about that.
On the other hand, when I think that I’m a failure who’s behind in life, I do get anxious and upset. This is because it’s a limiting belief that stems from societal pressures that tell us how much we should earn, what milestones we should reach by a certain age, and where I should be at this stage in life.
Here are some other examples of limiting beliefs you might have:
- I’m not good enough
- Nobody likes me
- I’m not clever enough
- I don’t have enough time
- Nothing ever works out for me
- I’m not attractive/thin/pretty enough
- I don’t deserve love
- I’m never going to be happy
- I won’t ever be successful
Do any of these sound familiar?
Journal prompts to question your limiting beliefs
When learning how to confront your inner critic, it can be useful to have some prompts to hand.
Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences is really helpful when it comes to unpacking your negative self-talk and learning how to move forward.
Here are some journal prompts to question your limiting beliefs.
#1. Write down one limiting belief.
It’s good to focus on just one limiting belief at a time.
#2. Why do you feel this is a limiting belief?
Firstly, identify that this is a limiting belief.
How often does this belief arise?
Acknowledge it for what it is.
#3. How does this limiting belief make you feel?
Think about feelings, emotions, tastes, smells, bodily reactions to this belief.
#4. How does this limiting belief effect your life?
Hone in on how little this belief serves you and how it holds you back from living life to the fullest.
#5. What would you do without this limiting belief?
What situations has this limiting belief held you back from in the past?
What would you do without the presence of this particular belief?
#6. Where do you think this belief stems from?
Think about all the potential causes of this belief from upbringing, to social media pressure.
Where do you think it first started?
Did it start in childhood? Or did it develop as you grew older? Did outside influences play a role?
#7. Rationalise with the limiting belief: Is there even any truth to it?
Rationalise with yourself.
Is there any tangible evidence to support this limiting belief? Is it a fact? Or is this just your own mind jumping to conclusions?
Even if there’s what you believe to be evidence, does this evidence warrant the continuation of this limiting belief? Or can you accept that people make mistakes and change?
Are you just projecting?
It’s possible that our limiting beliefs can stem from truth, but a lot of the time we’re blowing them out of proportion.
Our feelings are valid, but not always facts.
#8. How does letting go of this limiting belief feel?
Take a deep breath and consciously release the limiting belief.
Make a decision to let it go.
It doesn’t serve you.
How does it feel to release it?
If you can’t release it right now, write about why that might be. How does that feel?
Forgive yourself and come back to it another time.
#9. How can we actively work towards proving this limiting belief wrong?
It’s rare that we can just click our fingers and get rid of a limiting belief, especially when said belief has set up camp inside our unconscious mind for years and years.
What can you do to ensure this limiting belief diminishes over time? How can you prove it wrong again and again?
#10. What’s a positive affirmation I can repeat to replace this limiting belief?
Write down one-to-three positive affirmations that replace the negative self-talk.
Repeat this process each time you experience a limiting belief.
Some other general journal prompts for limiting beliefs that you might find helpful are:
- What am I really good at?
- What do I really like about myself?
- Write about a time I felt truly proud of myself.
- What’s a situation that I’ve overcome?
- Write five things I’m grateful for.
- What do other people often compliment about me?
- What does my dream life – without limiting beliefs – look like?
- What are three long-term goals I want to achieve once I overcome my limiting beliefs?
- How does overcome negative self-talk make me feel?
- How can I show up for myself today? What would make me feel awesome?
(Check out my Journal Prompt Library for 750+ journal prompts to help you transform your mindset all in one place.)
It’s important to know that we can overcome our limiting beliefs.
It takes time, self-awareness, and persistence, but it’s incredibly enlightening and rewarding.
A witchy ray of sunshine who loves to help others on their journal journey. I’ve been journaling since childhood and have since gone on to earn a degree in English and a diploma in Shadow Work. I love my plant babies, yoga, and anything spooky. Find out more on my about me page.