Identifying Limiting Beliefs

Tim Ong

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Beliefs drive attitude and behaviour. Self limiting beliefs result in self sabotaging attitudes and behaviours that prevent us from getting what we want in life.

So the first step to self transformation and change must involve a change in our belief system. Without this change, nothing else you do will lead to a permanent change in your life.

However, we acquire most of our beliefs unconsciously. Once accepted and imprinted into our subconscious mind, it takes a conscious effort to remove and replace them with positve life enhancing beliefs. That is the reason why many gurus advocate conscious living.

There are many ways to identify our self limiting beliefs and all require a conscious effort to be mindful of our thoughts, speech and action.

Below is a list of the areas we need to focus on in identifying our self limiting beliefs, beginning with the most obvious problematic area and slowly working towards the more subtle area of the mind.

1. Recurring problems

2. Patterns of behaviour

3. Emotion

4. Speech

5. Thoughts


Some people seem to have the unhealthy ability to get into relationships that are obviously going to lead to trouble. For example, there was this lady in her late 20's who seems to be getting into relationships with older married men over and over again.

As she consciously and mindfully looked into herself, she discovered not one but several beliefs that led to her behaviour. She believed. . .

. . that all good men are married
. . . that mature men are more tender and caring
. . . that all the young men wanted from her is sex

She further realised that she identifies married men with her father whom she highly respected because he was very loving and caring towards her. He gave her a sense of being loved and protected.

She also realised that her need to feel protected from pain came from several earlier failed relationships with guys of similar age with her in her younger days. Those failed relationships not only gave her a sense of vulnerability but also lowered her self esteem.

After several failures, she believed that she could not establish any meaningful relationships with men of her age. Those failed relationships also led her to her limiting beliefs mentioned above.

Once she recognised her limiting beliefs and where they came from, she can consciously decide to change her beliefs. She learned not to generalise men and instead to treat each person as unique individual, each with his own strengths and weaknesses.

Several months after this, she began a relationship with a single man a few years older than her whom she described as “loving and caring". He works in the same building but with a different company.

"It's as if he was there all along but I couldn't see him because of all the self limiting beliefs I had about men. The moment I change my beliefs, I could see so much more possibilities. . . and there he was, right under my nose!"

The last I heard, they were happily married.


It takes courage to want to change.

Most people prefer being in their own comfort zones, even if they are not happy in them, because they lack the courage to examine themselves. They are afraid of what they might find out about themselves.

All change requires self examination. Many people find it frightening to do that. When you take the courageous step to do that, you'll find a lot of new possibilities opening up to you. You feel empowered and in control over your life - and that will make all the difference!

Or you can just stay the way you are, joining the mass of men who lives lives of quiet desperation - to borrow a quote from Henry Thoreau. As they say, “Knowledge is NOT power; knowledge AND action is!"

Dr. Tim Ong is a medical doctor. He runs his own thriving family medicine practice. In his free time, he gives public talks, trains counsellors and speakers and volunteers in hospice work in his community. He also teaches meditation. He is the webmaster of , and


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