• Pat Birnie

Are Your Limiting Beliefs Limiting the Joy in Your Life?

Is September your New Year? For many it is time for a fresh start, perhaps even more so in 2021 as we seem to be slowly and cautiously emerging from our cocoons. Many of us are excited to spread our wings and try new things. So – here’s a question for you: What is something you have always wanted to do or try, but haven't yet taken the leap? Give it a moment…think…Okay now ask yourself, what is holding me back?


One of my “famous” (lol) 50 tips for Pro-Aging is to try new things on a regular basis. This includes challenging yourself physically and mentally. Now, to be clear, the tip is not: “excel at or conquer a new activity”; it is rather, TRY something new. Maybe more than once.


Studies have shown that animals who have an innate phobia of new experiences experience higher levels of stress hormones as well as a shortened lifespan.

Whether this is true in humans is not verified, but what is known is that trying new things decreases boredom, requires courage, opens up the possibility of enjoying something new and forces you to grow. More about that here. All of these benefits contribute to life enjoyment, and fit beautifully into our "Pro-Aging" model.



So, what's holding you back? Could it be your "Limiting Beliefs"? It's quite likely that

thoughts and opinions that feel suspiciously like absolute truth could inhibit our willingness to venture into unknown waters. This can have a negative effect on life by stopping us from moving forward. If you have a preconceived notion that you are not an athlete, or a good student, you are less likely to try things. There’s a difference between realism & negativity.



For example when I took up hockey at age 54, I was nervously optimistic. I had a vision of zooming around the ice, doing backward crossovers (never gonna happen!). I did have to soon face reality that I’d only develop so far – and that’s 100% OK – I was starting with 35 year old players whose capacity to develop a new physical skill was vastly different. I did come home from my first skills session and told my husband I couldn't do it. He gently nudged me forward and encouraged me. (Actually I think it was more like "Pat, we just spent $$$$$ on equipment for you, plus registration...you are going back!") So maybe it wasn't so gentle but he did also assure me that it would get better -- and it did. Now 12 years later I am still playing, very much at a beginner level, and having so much fun. I've met new people, my skill has progressed to a reasonable level (for a 66 year old) but most importantly reaffirmed the value of trying new things and facing fears. As an added note, it was the first time in my life that I had played a team sport!


What forms these soul-sucking limitations??? Is it nature or nurture (a topic that always fascinates me!). I know without a doubt that many of my limiting beliefs come from my life experiences. Our parents’ attitudes no doubt shape us – but oddly some kids have very similar beliefs to their parents, and on the opposite spectrum some reject them completely.


Other experiences such as a failed marriage (or two!) can affect our confidence, self-esteem and possibly our ability to trust others. I am participating in a year long Healing with Mandalas workshop (it’s a beautiful experience I must say). Our most recent task was to consider our limiting beliefs and through the artwork, deal with and overcome them. I was a little disappointed in myself that at this stage in life I still feel some of those old familiar insecurities. It seems some of this self-image goes pretty deep. It was however invigorating to reassess and go through the process of figuratively wiping them out.


“Limiting beliefs are simply assumptions about your reality that come from your perceptions of life experiences”. We can’t change our past so how can we change our future? I think the first step is considering our self-talk. When you say “I’m shy” or “I’m not comfortable speaking to a group” – well you are simply affirming that behavior aren’t you? Our words & thoughts 100% become our reality!! A few examples of self-talk and such beliefs are:

  • I'm not athletic, I'm not built for exercise

  • I am such an introvert, I cannot possibly attend that event

  • I don't deserve a loving relationship (I'm not lovable?)

  • I'm just not good with money, or my family has never been wealthy.


Here's one I recently overcame: I always said "I can't do pushups. I just don't have the upper body strength". Well a year ago (as I approached my 65th birthday) I decided to change that self-talk and get stronger. I started with 1 or 2, did them daily and guess what? 14 months later, I haven't missed a day, and can do up to 30 full pushups at a time! It wasn't even that hard; it just took a decision and some determination. Can you think of something simple that you can change with a decision and a little effort? I suspect that making the change will give you great satisfaction, and who knows what other benefits?


How about thoughts and statements related to age? Many people decide that a number such as 60, 65 or even 70 somehow limits them from being active. Age should never define us -- we define who we are and what we do!




Think about the type of statements you make that are in no way based in fact. What are they and are they holding you back from new experiences? The first step is to change your self-talk. The next step is to do something new & exciting, stretch your limits and bask in the joy it brings. I absolutely cannot wait to hear about your new ventures and how you step outside of your comfort zone.


Here's where to reach me: patbirnie55@gmail.com. Need a cheerleader or have questions? Call me at 905-330-5266.


Pat xo

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