Is it time for you to break free from your limiting thought patterns?
9 Limiting Thought Patterns
Many people believe that positive thinking and manifestation are important tools that propel us towards our goals. That might be a little too woo-woo for some of you, and we’ll talk about that in later posts. But what about the opposite? Limiting thought patterns (having a fixed mindset) can be as much of a burden as positive thinking is an advantage. Now, before you balk at the idea that you hold yourself back, let’s take a look at how limited thinking manifests in our lives. If you find yourself experiencing these thinking patterns, it’s time for a mindset shift.
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1. All or Nothing
Things are black and white. There is no gray. This limited thinking pattern impedes your ability to see nuance. You are either a massive success or a lowly failure. If there is an in-between, it doesn’t matter or you don’t see it. This pattern of thought holds us back because we can’t see progress or growth. It doesn't allow us to find a “middle ground.”
2. Focus on The Negative
Negative thinking is one of the most discussed topics in the self-help world. We all know the negative impact this type of thinking can have on our life. It’s easy to tell others to look on the bright side of a situation or look for the silver lining, but it’s much harder to do it yourself—especially consistently. If your mind filters all information through a negative lens, you won't be as happy or successful as you deserve. You need to teach yourself to look for the silver linings you would search out for your best friend.
This thinking pattern goes hand in hand with the all or nothing pattern. If you take a single incident and draw broad conclusions about it, you might be stuck in this cycle. For example, you fail at something, you decide it is worthless or impossible. You then take it a step further and decide you are incompetent, and you'll never figure it out. Besides being overly negative, this thinking process isn't logical because life does not exist in absolutes.
4. Mind Reading
We all know it’s impossible to read someone's mind (unless you have some powers we don’t know about). Even if you are highly intuitive, you can't know for sure what someone is thinking. This thought pattern causes you to make quick assumptions about others or think you know the “real reason” they acted in a certain way. Biases and stereotypes come into play here as well.
When I was in high school, I met a girl my senior year during a shared study hall. She asked me to join a game of cards (Bullshit, which I’m really good at). We had a blast during the game and when it was over, she admitted that although we had been in school together for years, she never talked to me because she thought I was “too smart” to want to have a conversation with her. Her limiting beliefs held her back from making a friend.
5. Fixed Mindset
A fixed mindset is an idea that things are how they are, and there is no reason to change. A fixed mindset is one of several ways that we self-sabotage our success. We believe that there are so many things that we can’t control, we don’t even try to change. We just accept that it’s the way things are.
You trust your abilities (which is great), but you never see a reason to grow or change. You don’t think about how you became good at those things; you just believe it’s natural ability, something you played no part in. Logically, we know this isn’t true, and if your sister or your child said something like this, you would probably combat it. We need to show ourselves the same positivity. If you aren't growing and changing as a person, you are standing still, as the world passes you by.
6. Stuck on How
This type of limited thinking is when you get too wrapped up in the idea of “how.” Often this coincides with perfectionism. We want all the answers and all the steps to be able to move forward. For example, we can set a goal, but then we get stuck on How will I reach it? While having a plan is important, we can't possibly know all the details of accomplishing something. You can't allow this to stop you from taking action, though. Sometimes you have to have faith that you’ll figure it out (or find someone who can help).
Are you the type of person to assume the absolute worst of any situation? Does an obstacle in your path make you think everything is a mess? If so, you are likely suffering from catastrophizing. This limited thinking pattern makes us always expect the worst. When you think of taking action, all you can see are all the ways things can go wrong. You will be too paralyzed by fear and indecision to act. Without action, there is no growth.
8. A Case of the “Shoulds”
If you spent time worrying about the way things “should” be instead of how they are, you might be dealing with this limited thinking pattern. This pattern sometimes overlaps with mindreading. You have an idea in your head of how things are supposed to be, how others should act, and when things don’t turn out that way, it throws you off. You expect everything to act according to your preconceived standards and have a hard time adapting when they don't.
Not everything is about you. Did you need to hear that? If so, you might be suffering from personalization. This is a hard one to take because it is part of human nature to view the world through the lens of how things affect us. It doesn’t make you a narcissist, but it can still be problematic. This limited thinking pattern means you take everything personally. Not everything that happens to you is an attack on you. Sometimes things simply don't work out, and it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you.
Now that you understand these 9 types of limiting thought patterns, do you recognize any that affect you? Here's a list of statements that might help you recognize some limiting thought patterns you have. How are you going to change your mindset?