Honesty Pill

How to Flip the Script on a Limiting Assumption

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What is a limiting assumption?

A limiting assumption or belief is something you believe to be true that restricts you in some way.

These assumptions may:

  • keep you in a repeating cycle of negative thinking
  • hold you back from making different choices
  • prevent you from seeing all of the possibilities available to you
  • chip away at your confidence and self-esteem

Where do limiting assumptions come from?

  • Family history
  • Culture and society
  • Stereotypes
  • Teachers
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Media

Basically anywhere! The earlier in life we develop our limiting assumptions the more ingrained in our thinking they can become.

For example, a child who hears his parents arguing about money all of the time thinks “money is bad and makes people angry”. They grow up with a limiting assumption that can impact their career choices, relationships and fear of scarcity. 

Here are a few more examples

  • “I don’t have enough experience”
  • “I don’t have a fancy job title”
  • “I’m too old to do this”
  • “Someone else has already done this exact thing”
  • “I am not ________ enough” (tall, thin, rich, etc.)
  • “I never have enough ________” (time, money, experience, skills, etc.)
  • “I can’t handle this”
  • “I don’t deserve this”

Do any of these limiting assumptions sound familiar? If you have a pulse, then the answer is yes.

How can we morph our limiting assumptions into neutral or even positive beliefs?

The first thing we need to do is admit that we have them. All of us do. Become aware of negative trending thoughts.

Of all the thoughts you had in the last hour, how many of them were negative? And remember that assumptions are not facts––this is just something you have told yourself to believe!

Through mindful awareness and inquiry, we can flip the script on our limiting assumptions.

How to flip the script

Step 1––Acknowledge:

  • What or who is causing you stress.
  • What emotion did this thought bring up?
  • If it caused a strong reaction, it’s probably important to you

Step 2––Write it down

  • Write your limiting assumption down on paper in a single sentence
  • Be specific and concise
  • Once it is written down you can approach it logically

Step 3––Challenge the assumption

  • Question the assumption
  • Ask, “Is it true that…”
  • See what answers you come up with
  • Give yourself mental space to invite possibility

Step 4––Flip the Script

  • Explore the opposite of the assumption
  • Does it ring truer than the original?
  • Flipping the script gives your brain the chance to explore rather than to remain fixated on the negative

Let’s go through an example

 Taking auditions is a trigger topic for many limiting assumptions. Let’s take it apart.

Step 1––Acknowledge:

  • Orchestra auditions are causing me stress
  • I feel like it’s too late for me
  • All of these young players are better than me
  • Maybe I should just give up

Step 2––Write it down

  • “I’m too old to get an orchestra job”

Step 3––Challenge the assumption

  • Is it really true that I am too old to get an orchestra job?
  • Has anyone my age ever gotten an orchestra job in the past?
  • The answer is of course, ”yes”
  • So then, is it true that it is totally possible for me to get an orchestra job?
  • The answer is of course, “yes”

Step 4––Flip the Script

  • I am not too old to get an orchestra job
  • There is no age limit to winning an audition
  • I have a lot of experience on and off the stage that will serve me well
  • I have had many years to learn how to synthesize information
  • I have had a lot of experience organizing and achieving big goals
  • I have already developed into the professional person that I want to be
  • I am totally ready to win an orchestra job

The Takeaway

Limiting assumptions can cause you to shrink and hide from what you truly want in your life. The more you practice flipping the script on your negative beliefs, the easier it gets and the happier you will become.

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