Limiting Beliefs in Addiction Recovery
Anyone who is trying to grow or make a big shift in their lives will come face-to-face with their limiting beliefs.
These beliefs live in our subconscious, and can hold us back from thriving.
Especially in addiction recovery, facing our limiting beliefs, challenging them, and ultimately shifting them can create massive change and healing in our lives.
What are limiting beliefs?
We all have beliefs about ourselves, about others, and about the world around us. Some of these beliefs are helpful, while others actually harm us.
Our beliefs are reflected to us in our daily life.
For instance, if we believe that all people are bad, we may continuously run into bad people. Meeting these kinds of people perpetuates the negative belief that we already have, and the cycle continues.
A limiting belief is simply that - a belief that is holding us back. Oftentimes, our limiting beliefs are subconscious, meaning that we aren’t necessarily consciously aware of them.
As we grow out of our comfort zones and work towards healing, we can come across our limiting beliefs more easily.
Other times, we have to do some digging to uncover what they are.
Where do limiting beliefs come from?
Most of our deep-rooted beliefs are formed in childhood. Some factors that contribute to the formation of our beliefs are the environments in which we grew up, the messages we received from the media and society, and how our family members interacted with us and with each other.
By observing these things as impressionable children, we formed belief systems based on what we saw, even though these beliefs aren’t true.
For example, let’s say a parent never told you they were proud of you, regardless of what you did. This could have caused you to form a belief that you’re not good enough, and this belief could have since spilled into many areas of your life.
Or perhaps a teacher told you that you’d never amount to anything. This could have formed a belief that you weren’t made to succeed, and that you were doomed for failure.
The important thing here is that none of these beliefs are fact. Maybe your parent was proud of you, but wasn’t good at communicating it to you. Perhaps what’s more important than your parent being proud of you is actually you being proud of yourself.
Maybe that teacher made that comment, but it didn’t mean anything. Maybe there were other teachers, friends, and loved ones, who saw so much potential in you, but you didn’t pay attention because that one comment from that one teacher hijacked your beliefs about yourself.
For many people, experiencing a traumatic event during their formative years can hijack a belief system. When we experience a trauma, it can change the way we view ourselves, other people, or the world around us.
Fortunately, even the most deep-rooted limiting beliefs can be shifted.
4 common limiting beliefs of those in recovery
The ongoing process of recovery from addiction can bring up many layers of limiting beliefs. To understand what these beliefs may be for you, pay attention to the narrative of your mind, and the type of thoughts that come up regularly.
Does your mind tell you that your past mistakes are unforgivable, and that you’ll never be worthy enough to experience joy?
- Does your mind tell you that you’re unloveable, that you’re a failure, that you’ll always struggle?
Notice what comes up for you, and know that it will take time to do this.
The negative thoughts you keep having about yourself are your limiting beliefs.
Below are 4 common limiting beliefs experienced by those in different stages of recovery
“I’ll never get better”
You may believe that you’ll never recover from your addiction, or that you aren’t capable enough or strong enough to experience long-lasting recovery.
“I’ll be judged”
You believe that others are constantly judging you. Oftentimes, this comes back to not feeling accepted when you were younger. It can also stem from you judging yourself.
“I’m not enough”
You believe that you aren’t “enough” for your desires. This can mean you don’t believe you’re worthy enough to have the life you want. You might feel that certain jobs, relationships, etc., are reserved for other people, but not for you.
“I’m a failure”
You may feel that you are a failure in life. Maybe you hold onto past mistakes. You may wish you were further along. Maybe you compare yourselves to others.
What is important to remember is that none of these things are true!
Although they may feel like facts, these are all limiting beliefs that you’ve formed about yourself.
How to change your limiting beliefs
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to change your limiting beliefs!
We can reprogram our subconscious mind with beliefs created out of self-compassion, hope, and desire.
Awareness of your limiting beliefs
The first step is to become aware that your limiting belief exists. In order to figure out what your limiting beliefs are, you can look at your desires and pay attention to the thoughts and beliefs that come up.
For example, let’s say you desire 5 years of sobriety. What limiting, or negative, thoughts come up when you tell yourself this? Maybe you think, “I could never make it that long. I don’t deserve to make it that long.”
Rather than judging yourself, try to observe these thoughts instead, and ask yourself why.
- Why do you think you could never make it that long?
- Why do you feel you don’t deserve to experience 5 years of sobriety?
Keep asking why, being honest with yourself, and digging further and further down the hole until you come to a root belief.
You may discover that you hold the limiting belief that you’re not good enough, that you’re a bad person, that you aren’t capable, or that you’re not worthy.
Shifting your limiting beliefs
After uncovering your limiting belief, you may immediately realise that this belief simply isn’t true, and you’ll easily be able to shift it into a belief that serves you instead.
Examples of shifting these beliefs into helpful beliefs could be, “I am good enough, I’m a good person, I am capable, I am worthy.”
However, more often than not, a limiting belief can feel like a fact. It can feel like the truth. This is when the deep work comes in, where we need to ask ourselves if it is ultimately true.
- Is it ultimately true that you’re not good enough?
- Is it ultimately true that you’re a bad person?
Think of all the times these beliefs simply weren’t true. Remind yourself of the moments in your life when you did experience success, however big or small. Remember a time when you were good enough for something, where you did gain something you didn’t believe you were worthy of having? Recall an occasion where you were capable, where you were a good person.
After disputing the limiting belief, you get to then choose and create a new belief to take its place. The new beliefs can be…
- “I am good enough.”
- “I’m a good person.”
- “I am capable and I can succeed.”
- “I’m worthy of good things.”
A final note on working through limiting beliefs
Remember to be easy on yourself. Healing, growing, uncovering, and working through limiting beliefs is not an overnight process. It takes time and repetition, and most importantly, it takes you being kind to yourself along the way.
Practise saying your newly formed, helpful beliefs to yourself over and over. Affirmations are helpful, as they rewire your neural pathways.
Another tip is to really, truly understand why the limiting belief isn’t true, and looking at all the ways it isn’t true. When your limiting belief appears once again, you’ll have an arsenal of reasons in your mind to help you shut it down.
As always, feel free to connect with others in a Recoverlution circle for added support and accountability. Work on uncovering and crushing your limiting beliefs alongside people who get it.
Author - Thurga
How Addiction Counselling can Help Your Recovery
How to reframe negative thoughts in addiction recovery
- 5 Self-Limiting Beliefs and How They Are Keeping You Stuck - https://alteredstate.org/5-self-limiting-beliefs-and-how-they-are-keeping-you-stuck/
- How Do I Heal My Limiting Beliefs? - https://www.vistataos.com/how-do-i-heal-my-limiting-beliefs/