How to Identify 3 Types of Sabotaging Beliefs

If you are reading this, you no doubt want to grow your business. Regardless of the business we are in, most of us want to be successful.

So why aren’t we?

Sabotaging Beliefs!

We are all vulnerable to sabotaging beliefs. Hence, awareness of how they limit our thinking, and our actions, is critical. These beliefs can also affect the people we work with. So when we learn how to spot them we can help our team members be successful too.

#1. Beliefs that were true once upon a time

José is sharp, hard working and ambitious. He has grown his network, but he’s exhausted. When we talked, the theme of “being in control” and “on top of things” was a constant. José wanted everything just so. He was puzzled and his team was frustrated by his inflexibility. When we began our work, I ask José to tell me about himself. When he told me his story, we both understood what was driving José.

José’s mother struggled with mental illness. As a child, he would come home from school never knowing if his mom would be ok or “having one of her spells.” He never invited friends over or did sleepovers because he never knew what might be happening at home. Because he was the oldest, it was his job to keep things under control — to make sure there was food in the house, the children had finished their homework, and that his mother wasn’t out wandering around. José had to be in control. It was the only way he could keep himself and his siblings safe.

José is an adult now with a family of his own. His mother died many years ago. Even though José no longer must be in control, he still acts as if he needs to. He is trapped in the belief that it’s not safe to not be in control —which was true at one point but is no longer.

This belief can drive him to be overbearing or lead him to micromanage when it’s not necessary. Only when José can understand how this belief is hurting, rather than helping him, he will be able to make more productive choices

#2. Beliefs that were never true

These beliefs frequently fall in the arena of “old wives tales” or even conventional wisdom. It was NEVER true that the Earth was the center of the solar system or that the earth was flat. In history, many educated people believed these to be true, even though they weren’t.

It’s easy for us to believe we are less able or that someone else is less able. This is the type of belief that can fuel “isms” and phobias– racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia – just to name a few. If we believe certain stereotypes, it will change how we treat others, and it may impact how we get treated.

Being aware of how these sneaky beliefs limit your perspective gives you the opportunity to get ahead of them.

Sneaky beliefs limit your perspective. Click To Tweet

#3. Beliefs that were true for someone else but not for you.

In some ways, this is the most insidious sabotaging belief.

We look at someone else’s experience and form a conclusion about the lesson to be learned. Years ago when living in Latin America, my husband and I were assigned a driver. We lived in a large city with crazy traffic and back then having a driver was more common than it is here. Hugo’s uniform included a necktie yet we never saw Hugo wearing his. One day my husband asked him where his necktie was.

He replied, “I don’t wear a necktie. They can be dangerous.”

Curious, my husband said, “Dangerous…how so?”

Hugo explained that his cousin always wore a necktie, but it got caught in a piece of machinery. He choked to death. Hugo was never going to let that happen to him!

Similarly, my friend Carolyn’s brother lost all his savings in a real estate deal gone bad. So when she had an excellent opportunity to invest in property, she turned it down because she didn’t want to risk losing money as her brother did.

The Bottom Line

When we find ourselves saying “I’m always _________,“ we may be caught in a belief that was true once upon a time. In José’s case, it was always about being in control. Another client was always independent. He never depended on others. Each had limited the capacity to effectively respond because of limiting beliefs. They were caught in the always and never trap. They were acting based on circumstances that were true at some point but were no longer applicable.

When we find ourselves in the same type of frustrating situation over and over, it can be helpful to write out our assumptions and question them a few times. If we are persistent and observant, we may spot a belief that was never true or a belief that was true for someone else but not for us

The best news of all is that once we see how sabotaging beliefs operate and limit our life, we can make different choices.

Once we see how sabotaging beliefs limit our life, we can make different choices. Click To Tweet

You deserve to Live Large! Don’t let sabotaging beliefs slow you down.


Elizabeth Crook is the CEO of Orchard Advisors, where entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, and philanthropists turn when they want to Live Large and grow both their enterprises and their impact. A mother, grandmother, and ardent hiker, she lives on Music Row in Nashville. Elizabeth believes that if we all loved our work, we could change the world! Her first book, Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next was published May 2017 by GreenLeaf Book Group.



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