Limiting Beliefs Start in Childhood
Everyone has limiting beliefs. There aren’t any exceptions to that -it’s a natural part of being human. Some people have overcome their limiting beliefs, but they weren’t exempted from having them to begin with. Have you ever wondered what causes limiting beliefs? It turns out that they develop during childhood.
The human brain has two primary components: the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. The latter is fully developed when you’re born. It’s responsible for all the things you do without thinking: breathing, beating your heart, repairing your cells while you sleep, and so forth. The primary job of your unconscious mind is to keep you alive and safe. Have you ever jumped out of the way of danger before you realized there was something to be afraid of? Your unconscious mind did that; it saw the danger and acted instinctively to keep you safe.
Your conscious mind is in charge of tasks such as reasoning, speaking, following directions, and other higher-order cognitive tasks. It isn’t fully formed when you’re born. It barely exists at all, and it grows and develops along with you through your childhood. It doesn’t reach full maturity until you’re in your early 20s. That’s an awful lot of time spent with undeveloped reasoning abilities.
It’s also a lot of time for limiting beliefs to develop.
Your conscious mind gradually takes over more of the responsibilities as it matures, but in the meantime, the unconscious is in control. You’ll recall that its primary function is keeping you safe. If something harms you or tries to harm you, it’ll endeavor to make sure you’re never in that kind of danger again. The unconscious is primitive and can’t tell the difference between the physical harm caused by a dog bite and the emotional harm caused by schoolyard taunting.
The unconscious responds by making the same rule for each situation: avoid the thing that harmed you, dogs in one instance and bullies in the other. Because your brain isn’t developed enough to rationalize that not all dogs will bite you and not all schoolmates are bullies, you might end up with a lifelong fear of dogs or a limiting belief about not being able to make friends.
All limiting beliefs are formed in a similar fashion. They’re all defense mechanisms your unconscious creates to protect you when you’re not old enough to protect yourself. That’s why they don’t normally develop in adulthood when you’re old enough to roll your eyes at the person being mean and deal with the strange dog that bit you and still go home to your own dog.
They’re beliefs, nothing more and nothing less. You can overcome them if you try!