If there’s anything the pandemic taught me, it’s that humans cannot truly grow without a bit of hardship.
I used to think that I had it all figured out. It took an unprecedented global plague to humble me and make me realize what behaviors and beliefs needed to go.
If you feel like there’s room for improvement, then the fact that you’re able to acknowledge it is already a big step forward.
When you take it a bit further, you will gain clarity more and more. In this article, I’ll articulate some of the limiting beliefs that have to go in order to grow emotionally.
Once you open yourself to adopting fresh habits, positive change is all but imminent. Let’s get to it!
1) Believing you have to be perfect
Here’s the thing: thinking you have to be perfect is rooted in naivete. It’s also a recipe for disaster.
The wise person is well aware that there is no such thing as a perfect person; they’re like mythical creatures, they simply don’t exist.
That’s right, even Keanu and Oprah have their share of flaws.
Take it from an esteemed clinical psychologist, the late Anne Wilson Schaef: “Perfection is self-abuse of the highest order.”
Stop thinking you must be the ideal person to be worthy or acceptable of society’s collective admiration. This mindset won’t get you far.
Start embracing your true, authentic self, flaws, and all. Have growth always on your mind, but keep your expectations realistic.
Let go of self-criticism and witness yourself grow emotionally.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve mostly welcomed the prospect of change – and further, that our innate individuality is what makes us stand out.
No longer do I strive for the pointless and unattainable goal of perfection.
At the end of the day, when you’re true to yourself, the people who count will still be in your corner.
Let’s not forget what Dr. Seuss once wrote: “Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
2) Thinking you aren’t capable of change
Some people are so self-defeatist in their mentalities that they believe change is impossible.
In reality, they’re just not trying hard enough. When you have it fixed in your mind that growth is marginal then, frankly, that’s just a depressing way to go about life.
The most successful people in life (I mean the real kind of successful, not just the rich kind) are aware that life is a tumultuous journey; one where change and growth should always be at the forefront.
My dad grew up a really spoiled kid. The eldest child of a comfortable family, his mother smothered him with praise, money, and basically whatever he wanted from birth to well into his fifties.
The result was an adult with some serious, debilitating habits like crippling procrastination, a tendency to be selfish, and an aversion to hard work.
When my mom left him, he knew that he needed to seriously change his ways.
This meant painstakingly letting go of negative behaviors deeply ingrained within him.
And though it would be a challenging process, he was (and still is) committed to change, regardless of the occasional setback.
He’s still a work in progress today. But the improvements we all notice within him are incredibly palpable.
I can see he’s trying his best and for that, I’m proud of him.
3) Believing you aren’t deserving of happiness or success
Believe it or not, some people don’t believe they deserve to be successful.
More than anything, the latter sentiment is a reflection of their self-worth and self-esteem levels and not reality.
The fact is that everyone is entitled to success if they put the time in.
Some people may have “impostor syndrome” which is a mentality where individuals doubt their abilities and achievements and fear being considered a “fraud.”
Meanwhile, others will grapple with low self-esteem, convincing themselves that they aren’t worthy of more extraordinary things.
Also, a history of rejections can sometimes heavily damage the ego and one’s appetite for risk, as they might anticipate similar negative experiences in the future.
You have to learn to let go of the past and learn what you can do better next time.
Coming back stronger is a core trait of resilient people–you’re no different. Keep moving forward.
4) Believing that emotions are a sign of weakness
Sadly, we still live in a society where emotions are still considered a sign of weakness.
This is especially true in toxic work environments, where the oft-cutthroat grind is glorified and any vulnerabilities are looked down upon.
Further, in most societies where the patriarchy is still strong, the traditional mindset among institutions like the media, religion, and even family is that emotions are for the weak, and real men don’t cry.
This results in some emotionally f*cked up adults, as they’ve been suppressing a range of complex and contentious emotions their whole life.
5) Being afraid of failure
I recall novelist Paulo Coelho once saying: “Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could…”
Think of the most successful people you’ve come across in life. Have someone in mind?
I’ll bet that they didn’t get to where they are by avoiding risks and playing it safe.
Being constantly scared of failing will naturally limit your opportunities for self-discovery and bigger things down the line.
You’ll be imprisoned by your own shortcomings.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask that person out. Start believing, I mean really believing, in yourself.
Dating that pretty girl or charming hombre isn’t just for other people. You have the power to make it your reality.
Once you thicken your skin, you’ll take the inevitable rejections of life in stride, unafraid to try again.
Life is all about taking chances, so start taking more risks. Get out of that comfort zone.
And speaking of fears, a fear of rejection is also something we ought to discuss as well…
6) Having a deep-seated fear of rejection or abandonment
When you live for the approval of others, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Put your foot down and start existing for yourself, first and foremost.
Don’t ever cower when others are around. Be loud (but not obnoxiously so) and proud of your authentic self.
Stop needing external validation and start seeking it from within. Avoid people-pleasing and constantly trying to be in everyone’s good graces.
7) Considering life to be hard and unfair
Once you’ve assumed the role of the victim, it’s difficult to dig yourself out of that emotional hole.
Sure, life can be pretty tough at times, but if you constantly feel powerless to change your circumstances, you’re just waving the white flag at life.
Avoid the victim mentality. Start taking control. Don’t idly wait for amnesty to come around.
Once you shift your perspective and energy, then things will gradually turn around.
In movie terms, think of your struggles as the wicked adversary, while you’re the resolute underdog who will defy the odds and emerge victorious. You have it in you.
During the pandemic, I couldn’t help but feel a little defeated. I lost my hard-earned business, I racked up crushing debt from financial institutions and suppliers, and my relationships suffered.
In short, every day became a battle.
Emotionally and mentally I was in a bad place and would often wallow in self-pity, regularly voicing my suffering to my parents.
I came to realize that this quitter mindset wasn’t getting me anywhere. For change to happen, I had to be resilient and face my challenges head-on, which I eventually did.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m happy to say that I’m now in an exponentially better place than in those dreary, locked-down days.
8) Thinking that success only comes from hard work and struggle
We established earlier that in today’s world, we often romanticize the hustle–i.e. working yourself into oblivion as a means to success.
This is the type of destructive propaganda that is perpetuated by online talking heads like Andrew Tate.
And yes, while hard work tends to pay off, the belief that hardship and struggle are non-negotiable prerequisites to success is limiting–you’re depriving yourself of more efficient and enjoyable methods of achieving goals.
In a sense, when you do actually achieve goals and it’s not via the toxic grind you’ve read about on the internet, then you might feel a sense of anxiety or uneasiness about your success and even develop the aforementioned “impostor syndrome.
Besides, overwork is generally unhealthy either way. Redefine success by setting boundaries and setting sustainable goals.
Through balance, you’ll find meaning.
To sum up, emotional growth sometimes involves restructuring the narratives we’ve given ourselves.
These limiting beliefs can form roadblocks to us reaching our full potential.
For every success story, there are ten more people who never pursued their dreams and regretted it when it was too late. Don’t be like them.
Realize that beliefs aren’t always the truth and that by challenging them, we open the door to more inspiring ones, transforming our life’s trajectory in the process.
This radical shift in perception changes rejections into opportunities, mistakes into lessons, and self-doubt into resilience. It’s time you joined the club.