I have a friend whose son started playing guitar about six months ago and hasn’t stopped. He plays several hours a day long past when the rest of the house goes to bed.

The boy is 15 and a bit broody and so my friend is delighted to see him find a passion in which he can express himself.

The subject of college has been increasingly on his son’s mind and been inquiring about music school, expressing interest in the best music schools.

My friend expressed his concerns to me. He felt his son wasn’t ready. He had only been playing for a few months and hadn’t put in the work to be making such a big commitment and to expect such big results.

As parents, we want to help our children succeed, and also protect them from pain or protect ourselves from pain. Such concern can lead to a mindset of scarcity that can sabotage any effort. In my friend’s case, his beliefs may be preventing his son from pursuing his dreams.

The situation got me thinking about what holds most people back from pursuing their dreams.

Limiting Beliefs Hold People Back

Our beliefs are a mental construct that help us navigate reality. We have beliefs about how to raise children, to make money to build relationships. A classic belief about money is “one shouldn’t spend more than one earns.” On the face of it, this belief seems so practical and so true! But think about when you apply for a mortgage or a student loan. Aren’t you spending more than you have?

My point here is that beliefs, for the most part, help us in making decisions. But they also can be very limiting in seeing what is possible.

On this very subject Robert Kawasaki, the author or Rich Dad, Poor Dad is quoted as saying that his rich dad taught him to never say “I can’t”, instead to ask “how can I?”

How to Recognize a Limiting Belief

Limiting beliefs often start with “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” or “I don’t”. Here is a list of classic negative beliefs that people hold.

  • “I am no good.”
  • “I don’t deserve it.”
  • “I can’t trust anyone.”
  • “I am powerless.”
  • “I am not worthy”
  • “I am not lovable.”

These beliefs can show up as negative self-talk.

Another way to recognize a belief is if you can say “this is how the world works” after it as in: “It takes money to make money, this is how the world works.”

Or in the case of my friend, “you have to practice for years to be accepted into Julliard, this is how the world works.”

Why We Have Limiting Beliefs

Faulty Conclusions (Experience) – After a painful experience we may make a conclusion that will limit future possibilities. For example, imagine someone getting divorced and then believing that “marriage is a dead institution.”

Education – Our parents and teachers try to teach us how the world works. It’s the job right? In this way, we can acquire a belief system.

Fear – Our belief systems are the world that we know, (or we think we know). Going beyond what we know is uncertain and uncertainty creates fear.

How to Overcome a Limiting Belief

The first strategy is to recognize that you have a limiting belief. Can you catch yourself thinking “That’ll never happen.” Or “I’ll never afford something like that.”

The second strategy is to reframe the statement. For example, “I’ll never be able to afford it.” to “What do I have to do to afford it.”

The Top 3 Limiting Beliefs of Entrepreneurs

Are limiting beliefs holding you back from pursuing a dream? As an entrepreneur, do you have beliefs that are preventing you from unlocking your potential

“I don’t have _______”

“I don’t have enough money. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the connections. I don’t have the experience.”

“I am just a ________”

I am just a student. I am just a home-maker. I am just a kid from the suburbs. I am just a retiree. I’m just a contractor. I am just an engineer.”

“I am not good at __________”

“I am not good a sales. I am not good at marketing. I am not good at technology. I am not good at social media.”

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you are likely holding yourself back from your potential.

In my experience, the process of overcoming a limiting belief requires a break-through. What I mean, is that life has a way of backing the aspiring entrepreneur into a corner in which the only way out is to change your belief system that is no longer working.

For example, if you have a belief that success means that you are gainfully employed and then you realize that you have a sick loved one, or you need to take care of a child then you’ll need to find another way. Life is forcing you to change. This process can be gut-wrenching and painful.


I don’t want to act like I don’t have my own limiting beliefs. I do! Anytime I feel like to don’t have enough, or I am not enough I know that my limiting beliefs are alive and well.

But by recognizing them, I am able to consciously superimpose a new belief system. By doing so I, or anyone, has the power to change my own reality.