Invisible Limiting Beliefs
There’s a story about a young boy who loved his goldfish. He spent hours watching them swim in circles in their small glass fishbowl. But sometimes he felt sad for the fish because their small fishbowl caused them to swim in tiny circles.
One day he filled his big bathtub and gently placed each of the goldfish in the tub, excited to watch them swim in their huge new home. He was shocked to see what happened. The goldfish continued to swim in their small circles even though they had a large new space in which to venture.
When we heard this story, we wondered about the invisible limiting beliefs that keep us human beings swimming in similar small circles. It takes reflection and insight to identify beliefs and the impact they have on our lives.
Some beliefs are clearly visible. The real challenge is becoming aware of the invisible beliefs that run in the background of your awareness. These invisible beliefs define your reality. They determine what you believe is possible or impossible.
Because of the way invisible beliefs impact your thinking, you may not be aware of how much they affect how you relate to your life.
Here’s a scenario to consider that might reveal a few of your invisible beliefs. Listen for your interior conversation and see if you can detect statements that will point to some of your invisible beliefs:
- At the last minute you are asked to hop on a Zoom call in place of your sick boss. You will be representing your organization at an important gathering of peers and influential people. The presentation is in 20 minutes.
What is the first thing you think? Reflect for a moment and write down your thoughts. What do you whisper to yourself? Was it “Oh, yes?” or was it “Oh, sh*t?” Do you see it as a problem that raises anxiety or an opportunity to share something you are passionate about? These whispers are clues to your invisible beliefs about yourself and the world.
Here’s another scenario to consider:
- It’s spring and your family has planned a picnic with good friends. You’ve worked hard all winter and you’re looking forward to a sunny day of fun. You wake and look out the window and see pouring rain.
What’s your first thought? Write it down. What hint of invisible beliefs are you hearing?
Those whose beliefs are rooted and reinforced in a Victim Orientation usually see a change in plans as a problem that produces anxiety. One example of an invisible belief may be “I can never count on anything turning out as planned.” Or “I need to listen for problems that no one else will hear.” Such beliefs limit possibilities.
On the other hand, those who adopt a Creator Orientation become resilient and view a change in plans as an opportunity to create something new and embrace something new that is emerging, but not yet known.
In the examples above, an opportunity to be authentic and vulnerable when asked to present in place of your boss may be the new opportunity. Or, when it rains a chance to spontaneously invite your friends over to play games indoors.
Engaging in a world of co-creating and being a Creator in your own life requires that you bring into the light of understanding unseen beliefs that may be running your life, most of which were established early in life and remain invisible if you are not willing to look deeper. The more aware you become of your invisible and limiting beliefs, the less likely you will stay constrained and, like the goldfish, swim in small circles.