8 Self-Limiting Mindsets That Could Be Holding You Back

Ever felt that you are going nowhere with your big plans and fancy New Year Resolutions as time just passes by? It is easy to list them down, but you may find yourself taking a few steps back after thinking over and over again before taking a step of faith to fulfil them.


Let’s take some time to look at these 8 self-limiting mindsets that could be holding you back in different circumstances.


1. “_____ is something that I will never enjoy or excel at.”

2. “This is not for me.”

Typical situation: When you find yourself in an unfamiliar field and role.

Person using a laptop on a table

A lot of our self-limiting mindsets can stem from what others often comment about us or just pure self-labelling. I never see myself as someone who will enjoy Modern Economics. I always skipped through the Business sections in newspapers and the only time I paid attention to the budget was when there were freebies for students! The world of economics simply did not make sense to me before I entered university.


Furthermore, the pure Science student “label” stayed with me up till my Form 6 studies so when I began my journey as a Social Science undergraduate, I anticipated a rough transition. But it was the exact opposite! It turns out that concepts like scarcity, opportunity cost, supply and demand are pretty cool and I got an A for this subject! Adam Braun once said, “True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends.”  I realised that I was simply uninterested because I did not take the time to understand how the economy affects me.


3. “There is no point in giving my best because someone else will always be better.”

4. “I used to be _____, those were the good old days/so I can’t be _____ now.”

Typical situation: When you are given a task and you are expected to deliver.

Two people looking at statistics together

These mindsets stop you from unleashing your true potential because of constant comparison with others and also your past. As a result, you choose to downplay your ability by withdrawing from opportunities and end up doing things with a half-hearted attitude. This leads to the tendency of self – rejecting before you are rejected (the opposite might happen!). Also, if you are too focused on your past achievements or experiences, you are denying yourself the opportunity to become better and surpass your previous accomplishments. While it is important to reflect on your progress and learn from the past, you need to draw the boundary to not dwell in the past but to move on and go forward to embrace new challenges.


It is also important to identify and note that underneath these self–limiting beliefs is the fear of failure or the fear of rejection. While these fears are real and can be overwhelming, it is also worth knowing that if you allow them to dictate your actions and decisions, you might end up in the cycle of complacency and regret. Do not make the past your yardstick for the future.


5. “It is too early/ late for me to do this.”

6. “I don’t think I can succeed, so it will be a waste of my time.”

Typical situation: When you are pondering about the timing to start/do something.

Girl looking pensively out the window and thinking

I often feel that the concept of “right timing” has been put on a pedestal for the longest time. We sometimes wait aimlessly and anticipate without making the first real step to start. Ralph Marston once said, “Success requires both urgency and patience. Be urgent about making the effort, and patient about seeing the results.” It was in 2019 that I decided to take my self- Korean language learning journey to the next level by registering for a language proficiency test, the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) after many years of procrastination. The same year, I was also finalizing my dissertation for my postgraduate studies! It feels like the wrong time to proceed, but I viewed it as a now or never thing to challenge myself!


I remember feeling overwhelmed and ‘old’ during the test preparation because most language learners start taking classes and sitting for exams during their schooling/ undergraduate days. There were times I was really tired but I reminded myself that you will always find time for things that truly matter to you, and time management is essential in this journey! During the examination day, I discovered that there were candidates who were much older than me, some of them have full-time jobs, some have kids, once again proving there is no age limit in pursuing your passion. If not now, when?


7. “Someday I will just bump into “The One”/Mr Right/Miss Right and everything will fall into place.”

8. “I don’t think I will ever meet someone as good as _____.” / “I don’t think I will meet anyone good because my ex was terrible.”

Typical situation: When you are thinking to start a new romantic relationship.

A couple sitting together with a rose

I am not trying to ruin your fantasies about romance. I still believe in true love and destiny but let’s face it, our everyday life is nothing like the dramatic, romantic encounter of the main leads in Notting Hill. Having a mindset like this will throw us in a passive stance to wait aimlessly and also set the bar too high for “the one” and for yourself. At the same time, if we based our expectations for our future relationships on our previous relationships/encounters, be it the beautiful memories or the disappointments and hurts, it would be very unfair to the other person as well.


I’m sure we would agree that it takes a lot of intention and effort to initiate and maintain a relationship. One of my best friends decided to try something new when she realised that her social circle and her workplace setting did not allow her to meet different people. So, she started making friends through a mobile app and guess what, one of them eventually became her boyfriend after they have met in real life and spent time together. If you never try, you will never know.



The next time you find yourself having these self-limiting mindsets, be reminded that many of our life’s greatest experiences and adventures often begin with questions like “Should I give it a try?” and our greatest disappointments and regrets stem from statements such as “if only I…”. Even if you did not achieve your desired results after trying, remember that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all. The choice is yours.

A full timedreamer who belives in the power of words. Studies celebrities and media academically, super fan of Jane Austen.

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