Andy entered my therapy office seeking help for his depression. But after a few therapy sessions, the root of his problems became clear--Andy had a deep-rooted belief that he wasn't good enough.

He'd started believing he was inadequate during childhood, and he held onto that belief throughout his life. His assumption that he would never amount to anything led him to be an underachiever. Since he concluded he wasn't smart enough, talented enough, or motivated enough to do much of anything, he'd created a lifestyle that reinforced those beliefs.

He worked an entry-level job for years. He didn't bother to manage his money well--he assumed he'd always live paycheck to paycheck and be deeply in debt. He rarely took the initiative to meet new people. And he never established new goals for himself. His depression was simply a side effect of the lifestyle he'd created.

Much like Andy, many people create lifestyles that reinforce their self-limiting beliefs. But, quite often, those beliefs are inaccurate and unproductive and they keep people stuck living a life far beneath their potential.

How You Develop Core Beliefs About Yourself

You develop many of your beliefs about yourself during childhood. Perhaps you grew up always feeling like an outsider. Or maybe you had a father who was verbally abusive. Those types of experiences could lead you to believe you're a loser or a failure.

Those types of conclusions will cause you to subconsciously seek evidence that supports your beliefs. Every time you fail a test, or get rejected by someone, your negative beliefs will get reinforced.

Whenever you discover evidence to the contrary--like you ace a test or land a promotion--you'll chalk it up to external factors, like luck. You'll ignore your accomplishments and magnify your mistakes. That's just how your brain works when you believe something wholeheartedly.

Because you believe those things about yourself, however, you won't recognize that you're doing this. Instead, you'll just think your failures and problems serve as more proof that you're not good enough.

Your Beliefs Turn Into Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Just because you believe something about yourself, doesn't make it true. But, there's a good chance that you'll make it come true in a subconscious manner.

What you believe influences the way you interpret events, how you feel, and how you behave. And much of the time, those beliefs turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

If you believe you can't handle stress, you'll be less likely to step outside your comfort zone. Then, because you never practice doing anything scary, you'll struggle to handle discomfort.

If you believe you are socially awkward, you'll be less outgoing. The less you talk to people, the less likely you'll be to make social connections. The fewer friends you make, the more you'll believe you're incapable of forming healthy social connections. The list of examples could go on and on.

How to Give Up Self-Limiting Beliefs

If you've spent 30 years believing you're a loser, telling yourself, "I'm a winner," isn't likely to be helpful. You can't unlearn those deep-rooted core beliefs that easily.

Instead, you have to challenge your beliefs by testing them to see if they're really true.

Conduct a behavioral experiment by challenging your beliefs. If you believe you're too socially awkward to make friends, ask yourself, "What would I be doing if I were socially savvy?"

Then, use a skill called, 'acting as if.' Act as if you were a socially savvy person.

That doesn't mean you need to be a phony. Instead, behave in a way that brings out another side of your personality.

If you believe socially graceful people start conversations with others, try doing that yourself. Set a goal when you go to a social even that you'll introduce yourself to five people.

Rather than sit in the corner worrying you look awkward, branch out and strike up conversations. You might find behaving in a more outgoing manner leads to more social success.

Additionally, look for evidence that runs contrary to your self-limiting beliefs. Write down all the reasons your belief might not be true. Look for exceptions to the rule and take note.

Simply raising your awareness that there are times when you are more capable than you give yourself credit for can help chip away at the belief that you've held so strongly.

Challenging Your Beliefs Takes Time

Your mind can be your best asset or your biggest enemy. If you've drawn inaccurate conclusions about yourself, your self-limiting beliefs could prevent you from reaching your greatest potential.

It's likely that everyone has a few self-limiting beliefs. To discover yours, spend some time thinking about your potential and assessing the assumptions you make about yourself that keep you from living your dreams.

It's likely that your beliefs, rather than your lack of ability, could be the biggest hurdle standing between the life you're living and type of life you want to live. But the good news is, with a little time and extra effort, you can develop the mental strength you need to overcome the self-limiting beliefs that threaten to hold you back from reaching your greatest potential.

Published on: Oct 4, 2016