Big Lessons Learned: Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs



We all have that little voice in the back of our heads that loves to undersell our potential. What’s worse: sometimes that voice is so loud that it scares us out of taking the risks that help us grow and make our dreams a reality (personally and professionally).

At our last #AskMeAnything event, we rounded up mentors Cachet Prescott, Schlaine Hutchins, and Mihir Kakkad to break down why that internal monologue is so paralyzing, and what we can do to move beyond it.

Here’s what we learned from the discussion.

1. “Do it scared.”

A self-proclaimed “podcast junkie”, Cachet spent years talking herself out of putting her own voice into the airwaves. Because it was something she revered so much, she adopted the narrative that she could never stack up to par with already-established hosts.

Looking back, now having successfully launched her podcast series, All Things Unlearned, she admits the only thing that prevented her from doing it sooner was fear.

Though it took some time to pick a topic that felt authentic to her, even once all of the pieces were in place, prepped and ready to go…she kept thinking of excuses to not follow through. It wasn’t until she pushed through the fear and committed to just “do it scared” that her dream took shape.

Oftentimes, when we find ourselves standing in front of a “big risk” (like asking for a raise, pursuing a passion, trying something out of your wheelhouse, etc.), we fall back on comfort-seeking behaviors to prolong making real moves. What isn’t as easy to notice: that avoidant behavior is the only true roadblock in between you and bringing that desire to fruition.

Even if there isn’t a particular opportunity you have in mind just yet, if you’re feeling stunted, Cachet suggests turning inward to seek out trends you might be following as defense mechanisms or means of playing it safe. In her words…

“Some things can serve you, and still be counteractive to your goals.”

For example…

Schlaine, who grew up being told she was “better seen than heard,” looks back and recognizes times when she “wore her introversion like a shield,” creating a negative feedback loop of being quiet, feeling left out, and getting upset without recognizing the role she was playing in distancing herself from others.

2. Get to the root of the belief.

Schlaine had to take a step back (and out of her head) to realize that the frustrations she felt were more a self-fulfilling prophecy than a reflection of a legitimate wall between herself and her connections with others. But simply recognizing where this belief had taken root was only the beginning.

Schlaine works every day to encourage a more positive personal narrative about herself (that her opinions are valuable and worth listening to), in order to keep that self-limiting voice at bay.

In her experience, thinking of three simple adjectives that you can call on before you head into intimidating situations (EX: I am creative, organized, and empathetic) can help bring you down to earth and make you feel more confident in yourself. You can also make a “wins jar,” store emails with positive recognition, or create an accomplishment journal that you can reference when that self-doubt starts to creep in.

Schlaine encourages us to consider the feedback we receive from others, as well, in comparison to what we tell ourselves.

For instance, if people tell you all the time you’re great at [X], but you tell yourself you’re not…odds are: that belief you have doesn’t hold much (or any) truth.

You have to ask yourself: “why do I believe that about myself when other people affirm the opposite?”

3. Know who is in your corner.

Of course, looking to others to redirect our self-image has its limits. It’s important to distinguish between the valued feedback of trusted peers or colleagues, and the one or two limiting cases that may judge us unfairly or inspire more internal scrutiny than necessary.

This can be difficult. As we all can probably agree: it’s usually much easier to believe the negative, rather than the positive things that people say about us.

Moving to California from being born and raised in Mumbai, Mihir learned the hard way how harshly just a few people’s opinions can weigh on your sense of self-worth. Peers made frequent (and unnecessary) jabs at his accent which ultimately took a hit to his confidence. Feeling pressured to change and fall in line with the crowd, he turned to his father for guidance.

His advice? “In order to stand up or stand out, you have to know what you stand for.”

Or in other words, one person’s opinion of you doesn’t matter nearly as much as your opinion of yourself. 

If Mihir had subscribed to the belief that he needed to sacrifice part of his identity to be successful, he would have missed out on the pride he now feels having scaled his dreams with his ethics and sense of self intact.

He recommends everyone find a core set of values, and allow yourself the grace to be imperfect. After all, we’re all human, and the idea that we should be flawless is a self-limiting belief in and of itself.