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Limiting Beliefs

Photo by Gala Darling

I never know what I’m going to write until I actually sit down to write it. Actually, the less I think about it, and just allow myself to relax into the flow, the better the writing usually takes shape.

My state of mind has everything to do with the quality of the final result. Thus, the lack of writing produced in the first 10 months of 2010 – as I was recovering and overcoming post-partum depression.

The biggest gift I received from the Good Mood Blogger contest was, that in entering it, a mental shift took place in me that pushed me over the edge of the mental blockage I was “stuck” in. And for that, I felt like a winner from the very beginning.

The mental blocks (aka. Limiting beliefs) we experience in life – not just in writing, but with taking action toward goals we want to accomplish – can have a detrimental effect which dramatically change the stories of our lives.

A few weeks ago, in the TSN Insider newsletter, I talked about the negative effect my mental blockage regarding money had on my life. The result of that was unconscious self-sabotaging of the success I had, until my physical reality matched that of my beliefs. I was literally pushing opportunities away, and doing so unconsciously.

It is worthwhile, to observe ourselves, and our emotional reactions towards certain topics. And if we have an inverse reaction, examine and reflect on why we may feel that way. Keep reflecting, and questioning yourself, and drilling deeper into the possible mental blockages or limiting beliefs you may have developed about that topic.

For example, if you want to make more money, or be more successful in your field of expertise, notice how you feel towards and talk about people with more money or more success than you. Are you feeling jealous or judging them with a negative lens in the privacy of your mind?

Another example, you want to be an artist, let’s say a painter, but you can’t seem to find time to lift a paintbrush. Or the an opportunity comes up for you to advance your painting career, but you come up with excuses that takes you away from the opportunity. In this case, examine what fears and possible limiting beliefs you may have about being an artist?

You may consider me to be a writer, because, I’ve been writing on TSN for over 3 years now. And given that I make a relative living doing it, I would qualify to be called a writer. But in my mind, I never believed that about myself, until very recently.

English wasn’t my first language. I spoke my first English sentence when I was 10. And having been placed into ESL classes for many years, along side all the other immigrant children, I didn’t enter my first non-ESL English class until I was 15 or 16.

I always considered myself to be weak in the English language and avoided it. I always felt insecure about my grammar and spelling. And wouldn’t let anything I’ve written see the light of day, until it got read and edited by someone more qualified – like a native speaker.

In high school, I loved English class – especially escaping into the dreamy world of a good novel. But I was also scared of them, scared of book reports and essays. I felt exceptionally nervous of exams, where I had to compose essays under pressure – my mind would blank out of fear, so bad that sometimes I would shake like a little dry leaf, and I would end up doing badly, which further strengthened my belief that I was bad at English.

In my last year in high school – when your grades mattered the most for entrance to University – I took 3 math classes (calculus, statistics and geometry) to offset my grade average for the low grade I got from English class.

For the midterm exam, I remember working so hard, and thought I had done well. Until I got the result back, which was disappointing. When I went to ask my English teacher about it, I remember vividly the look on her face and the puffy strands of gray hair she wore, when she said something along the lines of, “You are a bad writer. In fact, so bad that you should not be allowed in University.”

I was heart broken.

From that moment on, I was terrified of what University would hold. I was scared to write, and I believed her in saying I was a bad writer. I ended up pursuing a Bachelor in Math, and specialized in Computer Science, because, that was the only thing I could do that avoided my fear of writing.

When I was breaking up with Adam, years ago, one of my big fear and hesitancy was that I would loose my editor, my proofreader, essentially my safety net for Think Simple Now. I was so afraid that I actually considered being in a relationship that I wasn’t happy in.

Since the relationship with Adam ended, my step-dad and later Jeremy took over the responsibility of proof reading all my writing. This is one of the main reasons why articles took so long to turn around. And why I feel so liberated with the TSN Insider email list experiment – unedited, unproof-read, just a stream of ideas, raw, directly from me to you. It’s imperfect, and it’s okay.

It wasn’t until I entered into the Good Mood Gig contest, when the mental shift took place in me, for the first time in 3 years as a professional blogger, I actually considered myself to be a qualified “writer”.

In the meanwhile, I had given up many opportunities to become a writer who can make a good living being creative – like saying no to a book deal from a respectable publisher; or saying no to opportunities to guest post on some of the highest trafficked sites; or ignoring some highly profitable sponsoring campaigns by national brands; or at the height of TSN’s growth and rising popularity in 2008, I decided to stop blogging.

It’s all laugh-able now, but sometimes, when I think about them, they make me a little sad, and make me want to kick myself for being so “stupid”. But let bygones be bygones. All experiences were crucial in leading me up to this moment, and all the lessons where necessary to help me grow, and to help me find my true calling. So in the end, it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

We’ve all made mistakes as a result of living unconsciously, and while it is worthy to examine them from a place of learning, there is no value dwelling in them in a state of guilt or regret.

If you are feeling stuck in certain life areas, or find yourself avoiding certain topics; look within and see what limiting beliefs you may be carrying, that is causing you to feel stuck. You may have to dig deep – for many of these unconscious beliefs are deeply rooted, and have been with us since we were children.

One of my unwritten goals for this year is to discover, uncover, and undo some of my own limiting beliefs, and unconscious habitual patterns that I unknowingly acquired as a child.

It is going to be a marvelous and fruitful journey.

What are you working on this year? Share your thoughts on Limiting Beliefs or any other topic in the comment section.


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Want more articles than the blog posts on this site? I’m currently experimenting with more frequent writing that reflects on something I’ve learned each day, or something that made me happy. This article was extracted and then polished from the TSN Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe here to receive my “TSN Insider” emails.


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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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28 thoughts on Limiting Beliefs

  1. Ou

    I would prefer articles written by Tina Su coz they are simple to understand and share affinity with me. Dear Tina, I want to share that I am still suffering from depression which stems from a post-partum depression about 3 years ago so I hope you will overcome your problem sooner. It was supposed to get better till a couple of months ago, it got worse due to unforeseen circumstance. Your website is my homepage. ;P Everyday I look forward to a new article especially from you and re-battle with my emotions and thoughts with renewed strength (although it’s not easy but fortunately I have alot of family support). Don’t give up because people are still reading your blog…

  2. Hi Tina,
    Great job on this post. It is amazing the limiting beliefs we find outselves having if we only look deep enough. It’s tough to break out of, but the effort is worth it. Happiness comes out of it! Thanks Tina!


  3. Tina,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I find that a big limiting belief in myself & people I work with is that pesky, “I’m not good enough to…” one. I’m so conscious of it now, that I’m trying to prevent it from sneaking into the minds of my kids.

  4. Hi Tina, like you I had to deal with culture shock of learning a second language and unlike you I had to forget my first language english and relearn it later… even though I had good teacher and eventually I have had doubts about my ability to write….so I look at what you have just written, and am thinking limiting perceptions and limiting believes certainly limit our field of vision….thanks for your persistence and for the encouragement to challenge our limits which the writing seem our capacity for right livelyhood….john

  5. Hi Tina,

    I find that I can plan what to write in advance, but at the very last minute, after I sit down to write, I might just end up writing something completely different. A lot of what I write about depends on my outside influences and whether it clicks with something inside me. But at the end of the day, I write what I like and feel like writing. That to me is always the best way to write.

    Being aware of our mental blocks and limiting beliefs is very important if we want to avoid self-sabotage. The great military strategist Sun Zi stressed the importance of knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses to succeed. If we are unaware of our own blind spots, they can end up causing us a lot of problems.

    Like you I had a lot of doubts of my own. But over the years I realized that it was important to channel my energies to action instead of worries, fears and doubts. By focusing on the solution instead of the problem, I ensured that I remained productive in the face of difficulties. And in truth we have nothing to fear but fear itself. When we attempt something that seems insurmountable in our minds, we find that in reality, it is not as bad as we thought it to be. Also the sooner you face down that which limits you and resolve it, the sooner you will be free in every sense of the word.

    I am glad that you shared your journey about writing with us. I would never have thought you are a bad writer haha! In fact, I look to your articles for its wisdom and inspiration.

    Thank you for sharing with us! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  6. aT

    tq for yr story tina….ur story could very much relates to mine and i couldn’t agree more. at least now i know i m not alone…

    keep it up…u could have done more.n more~

  7. Abby

    Thank you for this blog. What makes you a great writer is that you write from your heart. In a digital age, where I feel people are becoming so distant, apathetic and they are just plain to busy to smell the roses, your reflections of your truths and courage are what is most important when you write. Thanks again, for sharing. You’re awesome!

  8. Hi Tina,

    I really agree with what you say about how you judge others. The reason you are jealous is because we feel that they are superior to us in a fashion.

    This is a problem I think everyone has, at least in some aspect of their lives. By learning to accept and respect others, without lowering your self-respect, you will start removing your self limiting beliefs and start realizing your unlocked potential.

  9. Jesinalbuqeurque

    I’ve been a writer and editor for more than 40 years and for part of that time also an English teacher. You’re a fine writer: direct, clear and to the point. Don’t forget that.

  10. Keith


    First let me say that you are an excellent writer. I always enjoy your articles and look forward to reading them. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    – Keith

  11. I am working on becoming a knowledgeable, inspiring, and busy yoga teacher this year. I am also prone to missing opportunities because of my lingering fears of not being good enough, or knowing enough. I’m trying hard to grab as many opportunities that come my way even though they scare me. How can something scare me so much when I want to do it so bad? Inspiring post, thank you!

  12. Thank you for this post. I used to tutor in the ESL program in college. :) At the time I only saw it as tax free income (it’s a state school) but now looking back I’m realizing that those kids graduated in 4 years because of the tutoring program. :) :)

    This post is very timely to my life. Was just talking about similar blocks in this group that I’m a part of (it’s a group for healthy living/weight loss). Thanks, Tina!

  13. You know that deep feeling in your gut when you hear someone describe exactly how you feel, and at the same time you have a big smile on your face – felt exactly that from reading your post. Really feel glad to have come across your story ( and read your post!

    I feel like I’m just at the beginning of my journey into breaking out of my limitations, and it’s very uplifting to be inspired by individuals like yourself, and be guided towards the light. Thank you!

  14. Holly

    Tina, I find this to be one of your most inspirational pieces yet. I can’t believe that a teacher once told you you were a bad writer. And to think you were able to bounce back and achieve all that you have after that.

    You have accomplished so much! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Good post. We are NOT the thoughts we think. :D

  16. Serenita

    As usual: a very nice post that helps. It takes so much work to say it well and you put in that for us.

  17. Serenita

    I found also that I must limit my beliefs in people who seem to be competent in a certain expertise, and fail me when I need the best.

  18. Leena

    Oh, I just had a revelation reading this great article. It made me realize why I feel the way I do about someone. Thank you!

  19. Satish

    Dear Tina

    I have been vivid (Rather not so frequent) reader of your blogs and I’ve received so much inspiration that it challenges me to become a blogger and I’m still fighting over my mental blocks to be one. I’ve shared many articles with my known friends and the day when i too become a blogger to share what I feel, most of the credits is for you.

    I was not aware that you were so bad writer and always thought you a are a fluent and great writer but reading at your articles (not sure they are all proofread). It was making me still doubt my abilities as for me too the same problem of trying to be a perfectionist before doing is what I think is my mental block.

    Thanks for such great articles which shows the world is filled with so many humorous people who spread so much wisdom for souls which need the Inspiration

    Keep going

    • @Satish,

      Aww.. thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate your encouraging words. Most articles on this site have been proofread, however, just recently, I started to publish articles that have not been proofread by other editors. The thing about mental blocks and limiting beliefs is that it is not necessarily true. It’s just true to you, and these beliefs true to only us affects our effectiveness with our work.

      Yeah, I have the same problem with trying to be a perfectionist before doing, and this usually limits what I can get done. I am getting better though, with baby steps towards overcoming this. Awareness is the first step.


  20. Elana

    Tina, I can relate to your words so so well. I too suffered from post partum depression, and it was one of the most painful and difficult times in my life. I too am a writer with deep insecurity. In fact, I just deleted my blog due, in part, to my conflict around writing. Here’s the thing: you are a great writer. I too, have greatness in me. Keep being you, being real and writing your truth. You’re helping yourself, and a lot of other people. Hang in there girl!

  21. Tina, great post today! I agree with you and so many others who have already commented – our beliefs set the tone of whether or not we will achieve what we want. I have made some discoveries in myself recently that often, my beliefs are based on “If_______, THEN _________” approaches. These are limited beliefs and I will get the outcome of disappointment. Thanks for sharing!

  22. GabrielleC

    Hi Tina, I love your post and read them all the time, They are very inspiring. They make me question myself and chalenge in life is part of evolution.

    I started working a year ago and due to bad experiences in the past; employers did not want to keep me. I keep telling myself that I could never really have the dream job I want. But the truth is, when I actually love what I do, I am really devoted and good at it. So this year my challenge is to aim for the best job and to not fear being dissapointed without even trying. Thank you for the inspiration.

  23. Sara

    Really enjoyed this clear article thanks. Its amazing how you become your label . I was constantly told as a child that I was anxious and perfectionistic because I had a lot of stomach aches. I kept saying that i difnt feel that way. Turns out I’m celiac. Sometimes limiting beliefs are not yours so beware the limiting beliefs of others ESP authority adults/ drs etc ;)

  24. Omar

    Tina, I love you article. It was wonderfully written and phrased. It, easily, reaches inside and delivers the message.
    Thank you.
    I wrote down some notes from it serving the purpose I reached to your article and site in the first place. Yes, I’ll dig inside of me to find those limiting beliefs that hinder a lot of aspects in my life.
    Thank you and God bless you.
    Happy new year.

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