How to Change a Limiting Label

In this post, taken from my book, “Stop Negative Thinking! What Not to Say When You Talk to Yourself” you will discover how to overcome limiting labels:

Are you placing a limiting label on yourself?

A lot of the time, we put limiting labels on ourselves.

We say to ourselves things such as, “I’m just not good at math”. This limiting label sends a command to our brain telling it to perform poorly at math. In this aspect, our brain is like a computer – it will accept whatever command we give it, regardless of whether it is true or not. In other words, if we put rubbish in, we get rubbish out.


The salt dilemma

Let me give you an example of mental commands. I remember a time when I was seated at the dining table having dinner with my family. Just as we were beginning to eat, my mum turned to me and said, “Akash, can you go get the salt from inside the kitchen cabinet”. Having been to the kitchen cabinet and not remembering seeing the salt, I said, “The salt isn’t in the cabinet. I already checked”. Mum persisted, “Go check again!”

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So I grumpily stood up and walked over to the cabinet and looked around. Lo and behold, no salt. I walked back to the table, proclaiming, “Mum, I looked. There’s no salt in the cabinet!”

She insisted again, “It’s right there! Go check again!”  I walked back, looked inside the cabinet, and again, no salt! I stormed back “There isn’t any salt!”

Mum stood up from the table, grabbed me by the ear and pulled me to the kitchen cabinet. She flung open the cabinet doors, and right there – right in front of my eyes…was the kitchen salt!


Limiting labels limit your potential

After having shared this story with a lot of my seminar participants, I know that this is a very common experience for most people. Have you ever had a similar experience? Mental commands can be so powerful that they can make you blind to physical objects which are right in front of your eyes.

A mental command such as “I can’t find the salt” won’t have life-changing consequences. However, think of the limiting labels that you’ve put on yourself such as “I’m not a confident person” or “I’m not good at interviews” or “I can’t speak in public”. These limiting labels do have major consequences on your life. As a result of these limiting labels, you miss out on many opportunities.

With that being said, here’s an 8-step process I have used to change some of my limiting labels.


1 – Acknowledge

The first step to solve any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

This means that you need to acknowledge that you have placed a limiting label on yourself. While there may be many limiting labels you’ve placed on yourself, choose to work on only one label at a time.

Trying to change too many labels at once will most likely result in you being not able to change any of them.


2 – Look at how much the limiting label is costing you

What opportunities are you missing out on because of living with this label? How much more would you be able to accomplish if you were able to get rid of this limiting label?


3 – Make a conscious decision to change the label

Decide that you will no longer live with the limiting label.


4 – Choose an empowering label you’d like to have

In order to successfully remove a limiting label, you need to replace the limiting label with a more empowering one. Choose a new, empowering label for yourself.


5 – Adopt a transition label

Your brain will most likely immediately reject your new label. For example, if your old label was “I am very shy”, adopting the new label “I am confident” will cause you to feel like you’re lying to yourself.

Therefore, instead of adopting the new label immediately, adopt a transition label that shows you’re making progress towards your desired label, e.g. “I am becoming a more confident person”


6 – Take action to help justify your transition label

For example, if you are trying to become more confident, you might challenge yourself to go outside your comfort zone and deliver a speech or talk to a new person. Taking action is crucial because it will justify to your brain that your new label is correct. It will stop you from feeling you’re lying to yourself and instead make realize that you’re actually becoming more confident. Once you’ve done this, you can congratulate yourself because you now have a more positive label which no longer cripples you.


7 – Accept failure

It’s likely that when you go outside your comfort zone and take action towards adopting your desired label, you will fail. If you fail (e.g. your speech is horrible or the new person you tried to talk to rejected you), tell yourself “Failure is a part of the process. I am getting better simply by trying.”


8 – Keep taking action

Keep taking action to become more and more comfortable with your new transition label. It might take some time but you’ll eventually get to a point where, like me, you are completely comfortable with your new label.

Recommended Resource

Want more great tools on how to smash through negative inner-dialogue and live life to your full potential? Then check out my book “How to Stop Negative Thinking” – available for immediate download from Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee!

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