Limiting Beliefs Kill Creativity, Writers Beware

Tiny Grass Is DreamingI worked as an office manager for many years, for many different companies. It was my job to make sure people had the workspace they needed when they were hired. When I started working for a successful, affluent company I noticed something very interesting that happened with a lot of the new employees.

When I told them they could have whatever they wanted, they didn’t believe me.

Now, of course, I meant within reason. And this was limited to items for their desk and/or cubicle. But that still opened up a huge range of possibility. I told them they could choose between a PC or a Mac—brand new. I would order whatever type of keyboard they wanted, and any kind of mouse. If they desired brightly colored post-it notes, all in pink, I would get that for them. A fun calendar or a plant to liven up the space? Sure, no problem.

And then, time after time, I watched people limit themselves.

Even though I told our new employees that they weren’t on a budget, they would shop around for cheaply made furniture anyway. Some of them chose to take a hand-me-down computer from our old storage closet instead of the bright, shiny new Mac they had wistfully considered. Almost everyone made do with the dull gray walls instead of asking for even the smallest colorful decoration.

At first I thought people hadn’t heard me. No budget, I repeated. Then I thought I would lead by example, but no one seemed to notice when I treated myself to the top-of-the-line items I wanted. When I overheard someone mention that they would really love an upgrade on something I urged them to get it. Pick something out, I said. I’ll order it today.

And still, I watched people limit themselves.

Then I figured out what was going on.

These people came into our office with a set of limiting beliefs already in place.

Maybe they believed that they weren’t good enough and didn’t deserve abundance. Maybe they had been conditioned by a previous job to work with shoddy materials and make do. Or maybe they believed in guilt and fear, just in a general sense, as feelings that would always rule their lives.

It didn’t really matter what the limiting belief was, only that it was limiting their current state of existence. Their interpretation of the here and now was being constantly distorted by false perception. So no matter how much concrete evidence I gave them to the contrary (affirmation of choice, examples of fun items to choose) their mental programming overrode my very real instructions, dismissed those instructions, and acted as if they had never occurred.

The really sad thing was that this happened with most of our employees. Most of our staff members chose bottom-shelf supplies and the computer they didn’t really want. Most of them decided to live with plain gray walls.

It got me seriously thinking about my own choices.

What opportunities for happiness was I ignoring in my own life? What possibilities were lying right under my nose, and me too blind to see them? What limiting beliefs did I have that were so ingrained they didn’t even feel like beliefs, just like a part of me? What garbage had been programmed into my mental operating system so long ago, but continued to rule my life now?

This is why working with limiting beliefs is always a work-in-progress. It’s essential to watch your own thinking, day after day. Whenever you think you can’t have something, catch yourself. Why can’t you have it? Are you looking at what’s real, what really IS right in front of your own eyes, or are you listening to a voice in your head that’s not yours, not current, and not accurate?

The way to counteract limiting beliefs is to let yourself dream, and dream BIG. Let every possibility be open to you and then make your choice. Adjust your thinking so that even if your current life circumstances don’t permit that choice, you know that it’s not a big deal. Just because it’s not a reality at this moment, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future.

This is hard work. We have to be relentless in our commitment to change our thinking, and vigilant about nailing ourselves when we slip back into the same-old-same-old. But it can be done. It helps if you surround yourself with people who are on the same wavelength of personal growth. Just being aware of the changes you need to make takes you halfway there.

Keep dreaming about what could be, but most importantly, keep your eyes open for what is, right here and now.

For more articles on limiting beliefs and how they affect your writing, check out:

Beginning Your Book

Writing Your First Novel? Watch What You Consume

5 Lies Writers Tell Themselves

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