Geneticists Show That Limiting Beliefs can be  Inherited

You  shouldn’t feel guilty for your limiting beliefs, but rather work to identify and change them. Cutting-edge genetic research shows why you shouldn’t blame yourself for the negative beliefs that can stop you from manifesting effectively.

So, while you may have beliefs that are holding you back, you’re not solely responsible for them (though you do have the power to overcome them).


What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives.


We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about ourselves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general.

In any case, they sadly limit us. Self-limiting beliefs are the ones which have the greatest potential for impacting negatively upon you achieving your full potential. We develop limiting beliefs to protect us from future pain


I do/don't

We may define ourselves by what we do or do not do. I may say 'I am an accountant', which means I do not do marketing and should not even think about it, and consequently fail to sell my services well.

Another common limiting belief is around how we judge ourselves. We think


I don't deserve... and so do not expect or seek things.


I can't

We often have limited self-images of what we can and cannot do. If I think 'I cannot sing' then I will never try or not go to singing lessons to improve my ability. This is the crux of many 'I can't' statements: we believe our abilities are fixed and that we cannot learn.


I must/mustn't

We are bound by values, norms, laws and other rules that constrain what we must and must not do. However, not all of these are mandatory and some are distinctly limiting. If I think 'I must clean the house every day' then this robs me of time that may be spent in something more productive.


I am/am not

The verb 'to be' is quite a pernicious little thing and as we think 'I am' we also think 'I am not' or 'I cannot'. For example we may think 'I am an artist' and so conclude that we can never be any good at mathematics, or must not soil our hands with manual work.


I am thinking assumes we cannot change. Whether I think 'I am intelligent' or 'I am not intelligent', either belief may stop me from seeking to learn. 'I am' also leads to generalization, for example where 'I am stupid' means 'all of me is all of stupid and all of stupid is all of me'. A better framing is to connect the verb to the individual act, such as 'That was a stupid thing to do'.

When coupled with values we get beliefs about whether a person is right or wrong, good or bad.


Others are/will

Just as we have limiting beliefs about ourselves, we also have beliefs about other people, which can limit us in many ways. If we think others are more capable and superior then we will not challenge them. If we see them as selfish, we may not ask them to help us.

We often guess what others are thinking based on our 'theory of mind' and beliefs about them. These guesses are often wrong. Hence we may believe they do not like us when they actually have no particular opinion or even think we are rather nice. From our guesses at their thoughts we then deduce their likely actions, which can of course be completely wrong. Faced with this evidence, it is surprising how many will still hold to the original beliefs.


How the world works

Beyond the limiting beliefs above there can be all kinds of belief about 'how the world works', from laws of nature to the property of materials. This can lead to anything from the beliefs that all dogs will bite to the idea that aeroplane travel is dangerous.


Why do we limit our beliefs?



A key way by which we form our beliefs is through our direct experiences. We act, something happens and we draw conclusions. Often such beliefs are helpful, but they can also be very limiting. Particularly when we are young and have few experiences we may form false and limiting conclusions. Nature builds us this way to keep us out of harm's way. We learn and build beliefs faster from harmful experiences. Sticking my finger on a hot stove hurts a lot so we believe all stoves are dangerous and never touch a stove again. 



When forming our perceptions of the world, we cannot depend on experiences for everything. We hence read and listen to parents and teacher about how the world works and how to behave in it.

But our teachers are not always that well informed. We also learn from what peers tell us and are 'infected' by their beliefs, which may be very limiting.

Education is a double-edged sword as it tells you want is right and wrong, good and bad. It helps you survive and grow, but just because you were told something, you may never try things and so miss pleasant and useful experiences and knowledge.


Faulty logic

In decisions, we make 'return on investment' estimations and easily conclude that the investment of time, effort and money is insufficient, and that there is a low chance of success and high chance of failure. The return may even be negative as we are harmed in some way.

People make many decision errors, for example based on poor estimation of probabilities. We take a little data and generalize it to everything. We go on hunches that are based more on subconscious hopes and fears than on reality.

The word 'because' can be surprisingly hazardous. When we use it, it seems like we are using good reason, but this may not be so. We like to understand cause-and-effect and often do not challenge reasoning that uses the mechanisms of rational argument.



One reason we use faulty logic and form limiting beliefs is to excuse ourselves from what we perceive to be our failures.

When we do something and it does not work, we often explain away our failure by forming and using beliefs which justify our actions and leave us blameless. But in doing so, we do not learn and may increasingly paint ourselves into a corner, limiting what we will think and do in the future.



Limiting beliefs are often fear-driven. Locking the belief in place is the fear that, if we go against the beliefs, deep needs will be harmed.

There is often a strong social component to our decisions and the thought of criticism, ridicule or rejection by others is enough to powerfully inhibit us. We also fear that we may be harmed in some way by others, and so avoid them or seek to appease them.


So what?

There is also the question of whether limiting beliefs are actually good for us and whether they keep us from harm. In practice some beliefs which limit us are actually valid beliefs which are worth keeping. The problem is telling the difference. The reality is that many of us err on the side of perceived (and not necessarily real) safety. Limiting beliefs are erroneous, being based on wrong 'facts' and so prompt us to treat things with undue caution.

So if you want to overcome limiting beliefs, first recognize them and then act to change what you believe.


Consider these seemingly benign statements we say on a daily basis:

  • I can’t tell the truth because I may get judged…”

  • “I don’t want to get close to this person lest my heart gets broken…”

  • “I don’t want to ask for what I want because, what if I get rejected?”

  • I can’t trust people because I’ve been betrayed before…”

  • “I can’t pursue my dreams because I don’t know what I’d do if I fail…”

  • “I can’t do X because of Y…”

  • “I can’t do A because of B…


The only thing stopping you from making a change, is a long list of limiting beliefs. I'm sure you have heard that little voice in your head saying at least some of these: 

  • I procrastinate too much.

  • I don’t have time.

  • I don’t have enough resources.

  • It’s too late to change.

  • I have too many responsibilities.

  • I have no clue who I am.

  • I have no clue where to start.

Procrastination is a symptom, much like a fever, stomach-ache, or headache, and it usually boils down to one thing: fear or lack of self worth.

What is your procrastination a symptom of? What are you afraid of?


I don’t have time.

A quote by Lao Tzu says, “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’” Perhaps the real issue is that you don’t really want to change.

What parts of your current situation do you like, and how are they affecting your desire to move forward?


I don’t have enough resources.

Focusing on external resources, like money, credentials, and skills, is another tactic we use to give ourselves permission to remain stuck. But lasting change starts internally, with things like energy, willpower, clarity, and passion; and as your internal resources start to grow, your external resources will naturally start to grow as well.


It’s too late to change.

Focusing on some arbitrary time and date by which you’re supposed to have accomplished X, Y, and Z means neglecting to enjoy the amazing journey unfolding right in front of your eyes. After all, who created this timeline by which you’re supposed to live your life anyway?

Do you compare yourself to others? What do you really want to change in your life, and what baby steps can you take in that direction?


I have too many responsibilities.

If you feel like you have so many responsibilities that you can’t manage to carve out time to start changing your life, then chances are your “responsibilities” have become an excuse for not taking care of yourself.

Who and what are consuming your time and energy? Are these people and situations really your responsibility? How can you start to take responsibility for your own life?


I have no clue who I am.

If you feel like you don’t know who you are, then chances are you’ve been neglecting yourself for a very long time, just like I have for most of my life.

When I finally stopped long enough to ask myself why I felt stuck, I quickly realized I’d never taken the time to really figure out who I am or what I wanted in life; instead, I was just bouncing from thing to thing, hoping something would stick.


What do you want in life? Where do you want to see yourself in 6 months? A year? What are your values and goals?


I have no clue where to start.

Depending on how you chose to look at it, not knowing where to start can either be liberating or completely overwhelming. But it’s usually just an excuse. If there is no clear place to start, then there is no wrong place to start!

However, the good news is that conversely, it is also possible to let go of these old beliefs, and develop new, more supportive ways of thinking and behaving that can, in turn, help to create a more positive narrative for ourselves.  

Click here for Steps to Identifying Limited Beliefs