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Oct 1, 2022 10 min read

The Psychology of Self Limiting Behavior

The Psychology of Self Limiting Behavior
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Do you ever feel like you're holding yourself back? That you could achieve so much more if only you weren't held back by your thoughts and ideas? This is known as self limiting behavior, and it can be a huge obstacle to success.

The psychology of self limiting behavior is complex, but there are some key things to understand. First, self limiting behavior is often rooted in fear. We may be afraid of failure, or of not being good enough. This fear can lead us to hold ourselves back from taking risks or pursuing our dreams.

In this article, we will explore the psychology of self limiting behavior and discuss how to overcome it. We will also look at the philosophy and spirituality of self limiting behavior and how it affects our lives.

Read on to discover the other means by which self limiting behaviors manifest from a psychological, philosophical, and spiritual perspective.

Self Limitation Through A Psychological Prism

When we talk about self limiting behavior, we refer to beliefs and behaviors that prevent us from achieving our full potential.

These beliefs may be based on fear, or they may be the result of negative experiences in the past. Whatever the case may be, self-limiting behavior can have a profound impact on our lives.

There are four reasons why self limitation becomes second nature to someone. These reasons are elaborated through a psychological lense:

To avoid potential pain: We may have experienced some form of pain in the past that we are trying to avoid in the future. This could be physical, emotional, or mental pain. As a result, we become afraid to take risks or venture into new territory.

To maintain the status quo: Change can be scary, and often it is easier to just stay where we are comfortable. This comfort zone can prevent us from achieving our goals and reaching our full potential.

To protect our ego: Our egos can be fragile, and sometimes we behave in ways that protect them even if it isn't in our best interest. For example, we may stay in a job that is unfulfilling because it makes us look good on paper.

To conform to societal norms: We may limit ourselves because we must fit into a specific mold. This could be based on our family, culture, or community. Whatever the case, we often put pressure on ourselves to conform to these standards.

The deeper underlying reason for the birth of these self limiting factors might be better explained by philosophy or even spirituality. Let's explore those next.

Psychology Founding Fathers Speak On Self Limitation

Many great founding fathers of psychology have spoken about self-limiting behavior.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said that we are often our own worst enemy. He believed that we hold ourselves back because of our fear of success or failure.

Carl Jung, another founding father of psychology, said that we limit ourselves because we are afraid of the unknown. We may be afraid to venture into new territory or take risks because we don't know what will happen.

Alfred Adler, another well-known psychologist, said that self-limiting behavior is often the result of low self-esteem. We may not believe we are good enough or capable of achieving our goals. As a result, we don't even try.

All of these great thinkers believed that self-limiting behavior is rooted in fear. We may be afraid of the unknown or of not being good enough. This fear can lead us to hold ourselves back from taking risks or pursuing our dreams.

The Philosophy Of Self Limitation & the Importance of Self Reflection

From a philosophical perspective, self limiting behavior is often the result of our own beliefs and ideas.

We may believe that we are not good enough, or that we are not capable of achieving certain things. These beliefs can lead us to hold ourselves back and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

In some cases, self-limiting behavior may be the result of negative experiences in the past. For example, if we have been rejected or hurt in the past, we may be hesitant to put ourselves out there again. This fear can prevent us from taking risks and pursuing our dreams.

On the other hand, self-limiting behavior may also be the result of positive experiences in the past.

For example, if we have been successful in the past, we may be hesitant to take risks because we don't want to jeopardize that success. This can lead us to play it safe and miss out on growth opportunities.

The key is to become aware of our beliefs and ideas about ourselves. Once we are aware of these self-limiting thoughts, we can begin to question them and challenge them. This is the first step to overcoming self-limiting behavior.

Philosophical Leaders Speak On Self Limitation

Philosophical leaders such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Kant have all discussed the idea of self-limitation.

Self-reflection and questioning our beliefs is a key part of many philosophical teachings. This shows us that overcoming self-limiting behavior is not only possible, but it is also something that has been studied and discussed for centuries.

For instance, Aristotle says in his Nichomachean Ethics:

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

This means that we should be able to question our beliefs and ideas without letting them control us. We can use this philosophy to help us overcome self-limiting behavior.

Kant also discussed the idea of self-reflection in his Critique of Pure Reason. He said that:

"reflection is a faculty of the mind by which it turns back upon itself and compares its own representations with each other."

Socrates believed that the key to wisdom is understanding our own ignorance. He said:

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

This means that we need to be open-minded and willing to question our own beliefs. Only then can we truly grow and learn.

The Spirituality Of Self Limitation

Depending on the school of thought that we adopt from spirituality, self limitation might just be an innate characteristic that is one of the many obstacles to our spiritual ascension.

In Yoga, self limitation is characterized by the duality of the mind. The mind is constantly fluctuating between two extremes: positive and negative, happy and sad, etc. This duality can prevent us from finding inner peace and stillness.

In Buddhism, self limitation is often the result of our attachments. We may be attached to our possessions, or we may be attached to our ideas and beliefs. These attachments can prevent us from achieving enlightenment.

In Christianity, self-limitation may result from human nature in the fallen world. We are born with a sinful nature, and this can lead us to self-destructive behaviors. However, we also have the power to overcome our self-limiting tendencies through the grace of God.

In Islam, the Quran states that we are inherently good, but we have the potential to do evil. This potential is known as fitrah.

It is our job to overcome our self-limiting tendencies and choose the good over the evil. Our Nafs (ego) is constantly trying to lead us astray, but we have the power to control it.

In Kabbalah, self limitation is our expression of limitation in accordance with the natural limitation of the material world. In other words, we self-limit in order to experience the material world in acceptable to use ways.

In Vajrayana,  self limitation is an opportunity for us to experience the world in a new way. By self-limiting our own desires, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences.

Spiritual Leaders Speak On Self Limitation

Like philosophical leaders, many spiritual leaders have also discussed the idea of self-limitation.

The Buddha spoke about self-limitation in his teachings. He said:

"To overcome desire, you must first understand it."

By understanding our desires, we can begin to control them.

Rumi, a Sufi poet, speaks about self-limitation in his poetry. He says:

"Beyond our ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there."

This field is the space where we can let go of our self-limiting beliefs and ideas.

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese writer, also speaks about self-limitation in his work. He says:

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life."

This means that our attitude towards life can limit or set us free.

Jesus Christ mentioned self-limitation in his teachings as well. He said:

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

This means we need to be willing to give up our self-centered desires to follow Jesus.

Metaphorically speaking, our past self must die for our new self to live.

There are hundreds of other reasons for self limitation in the human experience and hundreds of reasons for the reasons I mentioned above. There is no correct answer, but the most probably is simply "We just don't know better."

Why Nobody Teaches Us How to Overcome Self Limiting Behaviors

Self-limiting behaviors are often passed down from generation to generation. We learn them from our parents, our teachers, and our society. They become ingrained in us, and we may not even realize that we're doing them.

One of the reasons why nobody teaches us how to overcome self-limiting behaviors is because they're so ingrained in us. They're a part of who we are, and it can be hard to change something that's such a deep part of our identity.

Another reason is that self-limiting behavior can be helpful. They can help us fit into society, or they can help us cope with difficult situations.

If we didn't have self-limiting behaviors, we might not be able to function in the world. I'm not saying there are good by any means. They are only suitable for remaining mediocre at most.

Self limitation is a developmental process within periods of maturation. The behaviors are learned directly or indirectly by our responses built on previous experiences and inputs from others.

The positive reinforcement of self-limiting behaviors usually comes at an early stage in life when we are trying to conform and fit into our social environment.

Those Who Limit Themselves Inherently Limit Others

Self-limiting behaviors not only limit ourselves, but they also limit others. When we're limited, we're not able to give our full selves to the world. We hold back our talents and our gifts, and we prevent others from experiencing the best of what we have to offer.

When we self-limit, we put up walls between ourselves and others. We build barriers that keep us from intimacy, connection, and love. These barriers can be hard to break down, and they can cause a lot of pain in our relationships.

If you want to have more fulfilling relationships, it's essential to work on overcoming your self-limiting behaviors. It's also important to be aware of how your behavior impacts those around you.

We can choose to break the cycle and live more freely. It starts with becoming aware of our self-limiting behaviors and committing to change. You don't have to live out the world's fears, your parents, your friends, or anyone else.

Why Is Awareness the Cure to Most Self Limiting Tendencies?

Awareness is the key to overcoming self-limiting behaviors. Once we become aware of our self-limiting thoughts and ideas, we can begin to change them.

One of the best ways to become aware of our self-limiting thoughts is to meditate. Meditation allows us to quiet our minds and observe our thoughts without judgment. We can see our thoughts for what they are, and we can begin to let go of the ones that don't serve us.

Another way to become aware of our self-limiting thoughts is to journal about them. We can write down our thoughts and feelings, and we can explore where they come from. This process can help us understand why we have certain self-limiting beliefs.

Once we become aware of our self-limiting thoughts, we can begin to change them.

We can start to believe new, empowering thoughts about ourselves. We can begin to see ourselves in a new light.

The problem with awareness is people don't necessarily have the tools to invoke awareness throughout their entire day.

Life happens, and we often forget to check in with ourselves. This is where a coach or therapist can be helpful. They can help us become aware of our thoughts and feelings, and they can help us learn how to change them.

Desire to Change Must Exceed the Desire to Remain the Same

The first step to changing any self-limiting behavior is the desire to change. We must want to change more than we want to stay the same. This can be a difficult decision, but it's necessary if we want to create lasting change in our lives.

If you're not sure whether you're ready to commit to change, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the consequences of remaining the same?
  • What are the benefits of changing?
  • What am I willing to give up in order to change?
  • How badly do I really want it?

Moreover,  it can be helpful to talk to somebody who has already made the change you're trying to make. They can provide you with support and motivation, and they can show you that it's possible to make the change you want.

Deciding to change is often the most challenging part of the process. But once we make that decision, we open up a new world of possibilities. We can start to believe in ourselves, and we can start to create the life we want.

Self Limiting Behaviors Elaborated Slightly

Self-limiting behaviors can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible. The first step is to become aware of your self-limiting thoughts and ideas.

Once you are aware of them, you can begin to change them. This process requires commitment and effort, but it is worth it. With awareness and the desire to change, you can start to create the life you want.

Self-limiting behaviors are a part of who we are, but they don't have to define us. We can choose to change our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. We can decide to live differently. You can decide to live differently, not tomorrow, but today.

Check out the content I wrote on the most common self limiting words; it's a great way to start realizing how you might be limiting yourself.

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