There’s a quote I really like by Richard Bach. It reads:
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”
I think this statement applies to any limitations we place on ourselves. That is, when we are convinced we are unable to be or do something – so it is. Self-limiting beliefs might sound like: “I’m not skilled enough to do that…”; “I am weak when it comes to…”; “I have no confidence about…”; and so on.
Reasons we identify certain things as limiting might be a matter of low self-esteem, history of being criticized, or even lack of motivation, laziness and other reasons. Essentially, we come to believe our self-professed limitations in whatever ways they began and they essentially preclude any efforts to disabuse ourselves of them.
When it comes to conflict, I often hear coaching clients and parties in mediations “argue their limitations”. This might sound something like: “I hate conflict. I’d rather avoid it”; “It’s easier to just give in”; “I have no idea how to settle things”; “It’s my fault, but I won’t apologize because…”; “If I knew how to resolve this I wouldn’t be here”; and so on.
Self-limiting beliefs in conflict restrict our thinking, our creativity, our ability to gain distance and to see beyond situations. They restrict hopefulness and optimism and the effort to try. Further, self-limiting beliefs get in the way of resolving and reconciling matters.
If you have self-limiting beliefs about yourself in a conflict situation, please consider these questions:
- What is the situation?
- What self-limiting beliefs, if any, do you have about the situation?
- What self-limiting beliefs, if any, do you have about yourself in this situation?
- What self-limiting beliefs, if any, do you have about your relationship with the other person?
- What are you gaining from your beliefs referred to in the last 3 questions? What are you losing from these beliefs?
- From where do your self-limiting beliefs come?
- How real is each self-limiting belief you named on a scale of 1-10 as absolutely true descriptions of yourself (10 on the scale reflects absolutely true)?
- What do you prefer to believe about yourself regarding each self-limiting belief you named?
- What will it take for you to believe your preferred belief?
- If you lived your preferred beliefs, what would be different in the conflict you described (first question)? How would your life otherwise be different?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?