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Addiction and Limiting Beliefs

“When you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.” This quote, attributed to Les Brown, sheds light on the powerful nature of limiting beliefs.

Simply put, what we believe determines our reality.

If you’re carrying around a lot of weighty, self-limiting beliefs, you’ll find it difficult to heal, thrive, and recover from your addictions.

So, let’s unpack that heavy mental suitcase you’ve been carrying around and jump-start the process of letting go.

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are the rules you have about how life works. They’re the underlying principles that govern your existence.

Many of them are subconscious ideas you adapted during childhood, and often they arise out of painful past experience.

Your mind loves to make meaning, so often it will take a hurtful experience and create a principle to prevent that same hurt from happening again in the future.

Examples of Limiting Beliefs

Here are some common self-limiting beliefs that drive people’s actions each day.

I’m not good enough.

I have to get it right, or no one will love me.

I don’t have enough.

I always screw things up.

I’ll never make it.

It’s better not to try new things.

There’s no point in trying.

Addiction and Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs cause mental and emotional upset, because they conflict with what’s true at the authentic self (or spiritual) level.

Your mind thinks that it can spare you pain by constantly telling you that you’re worthless or that nothing good ever comes your way. It tries to get you to accept hurtful beliefs so that it will hurt less when you experience pain and rejection.

However, this self-protective system doesn’t work. It backfires, doing damage to your life on all four levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

See, your system wants to stay in alignment. So, when you feel really terrible on the mental and emotional level, your physical-level reality gets pulled into a terrible place as well. (For a video demonstration of this idea, check out our post Preventing Addiction with a Holistic Drug Rehab Model.)

If you’re experiencing mental and emotional suffering based on limiting beliefs, it’s likely that you’ll struggle with a physical-level reflection of that suffering. You’ll turn to drugs or alcohol or gambling or another compulsive behavior in order to cope. These addictions both dull the pain you feel and mirror your interior state.

As such, recovering from addiction is all about healing the underlying core issues that drive substance abuse. It’s about working with the depression, anxiety, and unresolved trauma that keep you feeling trapped and hopeless.

How to Change Limiting Beliefs

Step 1: Identify the Judgments and Limiting Beliefs

How do you find your limiting beliefs? Look for judgments causing you pain and upset, and zero in on the belief that underlies them.

What do we mean by judgments? Check out our posts on Addiction and Projections and Addiction and Judgments for more on how to identify judgments.

For example, you might be feeling upset because your friend showed up late to meet you  – again! – and you didn’t say anything to him about it, even though you were really mad.

Your judgment might be something like, “He shouldn’t have shown up late” or, “I should have said something.”

You could have any number of painful, self-limiting beliefs beneath these judgments; here are just a few possibilities:

No one really cares about me.

I shouldn’t even bother reaching out; my friends will always let me down.

I’m not allowed to say how I feel.

I’m not brave enough to tell the truth.

Step 2: Forgive the Judgments

Center yourself in your loving heart, through quiet meditation or just by thinking of someone you love unconditionally.

When you’re in a place of peacefulness, use this framework, saying the words out loud:

“I forgive myself for judging ___________ {name of other person} as ___________ {your judgment: wrong, selfish, bad, etc}, and the truth is _________________.”

In the second blank, write down what unconditional love – or your authentic self – says. Be prepared to be surprised!

Step 3: Forgive the Limiting Belief

Use this framework to release limiting beliefs, with the same guidelines as listed for judgments above:

“I forgive myself for accepting the limiting belief that  _____________ {your limiting belief}, and the truth going forward for me is _________________.” {your new belief}

Some examples of new beliefs written from your loving heart might be:

I really care about me.

I am a person who reaches out, and I like that about myself.

I have a right to be here, and to feel the way I feel.

I am braver than I know.

A Life Free of Limiting Beliefs

As actor, comedian, and teacher Kyle Cease wrote in his bestselling book I Hope I Screw This Up:

“Once we have untied ourselves from the distractions, addictions, and limiting beliefs that keep us stuck on the ground, we’ll begin to notice the billions of ideas and opportunities out there just waiting for someone to step up and grab them.”

What new ideas are waiting for you to take hold of them? What new opportunities are just around the corner? Let go of your limiting beliefs and find out for yourself.

Addiction and Limiting Beliefs

Joe Koelzer

Joe Koelzer is a co-founder and CEO of The Clearing. He has years of counseling experience and a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

After observing how depression and substance abuse impacted his wife Betsy’s life, Joe realized how broken our current system is for addiction and related mental health treatment.

He witnessed firsthand how an evidence-based approach coupled with Spiritual Psychology saved Betsy and enabled her to gain control of her life.

In co-founding The Clearing, Joe realized his dream of creating and sharing this innovative approach with others in a structured clinical setting.

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APA Reference
, . (2018). Addiction and Limiting Beliefs. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Feb 2018
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