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Mon, 2018-05-07 13:33

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Limiting Beliefs

Authored By: Coach Daniel Stewart
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

This month we’re going to begin a seven-part series on a subject you’re sure to have experienced and one that, at some point in your life, has held you back from achieving your best. This month we're going to begin talking about limiting beliefs - the idea that sometimes our beliefs can unintentionally limit our ability to succeed without even knowing it. 

So just what does a limiting belief sound like? Well, you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “I’m not good at math,” or, “I can’t cook,” or, “I’m not a morning person.” These are all common limiting beliefs because the more you say them to yourself, the more likely you are to believe they’re true. If you continually tell yourself that you’re not good at cooking there’s very little chance you’ll ever get very good at it - not because you’re not capable - but because your thoughts have placed a limit on what you believe you can do.

Perhaps the most famous example of a limiting belief is the story of the four-minute mile. It was said that humans were incapable of running faster than a four-minute mile and science added that it wouldn’t just be hard, it would be impossible, and that if it was attempted it could result in the death of the athlete! So, there’s the limit. You can’t do it, so why even believe you should try? That was until 1954 when on a rainy, cold, windy day in Oxford, England, Roger Bannister did the impossible and finished a mile race in 3:59.4 - shattering the record and the limiting believe attached to it.

Now here comes the neat part of the story. Once the limiting belief was gone, so was the limit! Forty-six days later, Bannister’s record was broken and today over 2,000 people have run a sub-four-minute mile including ten high-schoolers, a sixteen year-old, and a forty-one year-old! One athlete has even run two miles in less eight minutes! 

The point of this story is that when the limiting belief was gone, so was the limit. Once we stop believing something is impossible, it becomes possible! 

This month, think about what you really believe in and ask yourself if any of your beliefs might be unintentionally limiting you. Might you say something like, “I always ride poorly at this venue,” “I’m bad at seeing distances,” “I always get nervous riding for judges,” or, “I ride poorly when I go first”?  If so, recognize the limits you’re placing on yourself and eliminate them from your beliefs, remembering that when the limiting beliefs are gone, so are your limits.

Starting next month I’ll tell you about six unusual ways your thoughts can unintentionally cause you to create limiting beliefs - but more importantly - the many ways in which you can stop them. In the meantime, please consider joining me at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs or Lake Placid this summer for an Equestrian Athlete Training Camp. We’ll be spending four-days discussing rider fitness, mental coaching, athlete nutrition, team-building, yoga, and much more. Riders of all levels and disciplines are welcome and members of the USEA receive a $255 scholarship. Click here for more information.

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