5 Telltale Signs Your Beliefs Are Holding You Hostage

5 Telltale Signs Your Beliefs Are Holding You Hostage

Your beliefs are your most powerful asset. They impact everything about your life from how you feel and think, to the actions you do or don’t take. 

Identifying whether your beliefs are empowering or disempowering (and then working to change them if they are) will ultimately help you lead a more productive and fulfilling life. 

Today, we’ll cover the 5 telltale signs your beliefs are holding you hostage and what to do if they are. Let’s get started!

What are beliefs? 

Beliefs are an outward manifestation of an inward attitude we carry about ourselves and the world at large. Whatever we accept to be true — fact or not — becomes a personal belief. Although beliefs are not equal to facts, we accept them as true. On a personal level, we carry beliefs about everything including politics, religion, family affairs, career, and our capabilities. 

We carry beliefs are about almost everything — from how we believe we should behave, to how we believe we should speak, what we should do with our lives, what others should do, and so forth. 

How do beliefs impact you?

The thoughts you think, feelings you feel, and actions you do or don’t take are all an example of how your beliefs impact you.

Here’s why:

Before you believe in something, you think about it. The more you think about it, and accept it as true, the greater that belief becomes to you. As a result, you attach certain feelings to those thoughts. Put simply: when you believe in something, an emotional connection is created. Once this mental trigger takes place, your brain goes to work to determine what action you will or won’t take.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say in 8th grade your English teacher instructs your class to write about what you want to be when you grow up. Excitedly, you open your journal and begin writing. You have always loved reading and writing and often imagined yourself becoming a best-selling author like J.K. Rowling. You journal daily and are actively working on writing your first novel at just 14-years-old. But, when your teacher reads about your dreams for the future, she has harsh words for you: “Finding success similar to J.K. Rowling will be nearly impossible. Nothing about your writing stands out. It might be time to consider alternative ideas for your future.”

Your heart sinks. You begin feeling queasy. And suddenly, you question everything. “Maybe she’s right. Who am I, anyway? How could I expect to become successful? I’m nobody. I’m not even a published writer, and I probably never will be!”

You feel angry, confused and sad. Her words instantly changed your perspective from positive to negative.

As you stew over her words, repeating them over and over in your head, you convince yourself she’s right. You convince yourself you don’t have what it takes to be a writer. You throw away your Harry Potter collection. You stop journaling. And you fall into a deep depression, lost and uncertain of what to do now.

This is a powerful example of the impact beliefs have on our lives. This 14-year-old girl had a dream to be a writer and loved to read and write. Then, one person’s OPINION completely changed her belief about herself.

What is the difference between limiting and empowering beliefs?

When your beliefs are empowering, you believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your dreams. When your beliefs are limiting, you place limitations on what’s possible for you and hold yourself back from personal greatness.

The tricky thing here is beliefs are so deeply ingrained, they’re often unconscious. That means it can be hard to identify whether or beliefs or empowering or disempowering without asking yourself pointed questions.

Here are the 5 telltale signs your beliefs are holding you hostage:

1.) You negative self-talk

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Be careful how you talk to yourself, you are listening?”

Negative self-talk is when you have a conversation with yourself (typically in your head) that degrades you. Thoughts and statements such as:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I can’t do X,Y,Z
  • I’m not worth it
  • Other people are more capable than me
  • I’ll never measure up to X,Y,Z

limit you and your abilities. When you talk negatively to yourself, especially when this talk is frequent, you will begin to believe the words you’re feeding yourself. Not only does negative self-talk wreck your self-esteem, it can also derail your life and ability to fulfill your potential.

"Your body hears everything your mind says." Click To Tweet

How to stop negative self-talk:

  1. Become aware: Awareness is key to changing anything in your life, negative-self talk included. Listen to the way you speak to yourself, and take inventory of how often the thoughts you think, and statements you make are positive or negative.
  2. Identify your triggers: Think back to your most recent negative self-talk episode. What brought this negative internal conversation about? For example, did your boss approach you about an error in a report you submitted, and did this interaction send you into a spiral where you told yourself you’re not smart enough and you’ll never get promoted? When you understand what your triggers are, you can find empowering ways to work through them when they arise.
  3. Ask ‘How’ Questions: Rather than affirming a negative position such as, “I’m always going to be broke” flip the switch and ask ‘How’ questions such as “How can I save money?” Your mind is a supercomputer, and when you ask it a question it will deliver solutions.
  4. Layout the worst-case scenario: Rather than living in constant anxiety worrying about the worst thing that COULD happen, imagine if it did. When you layout the worst-case scenario and realize how unlikely it is, you will quell anxious thinking.

2.) You do way less than you’re capable of

If you’re the type of person who frequently sets goals, but deserts them as soon as the first obstacle or challenges arises then you’re selling yourself short. Goal abandonment is a telltale sign your beliefs are holding you hostage. It means although you have big dreams for yourself, you convince yourself for whatever reason that those dreams aren’t attainable and you quit.

In order to overcome this mindset, create a step-by-step plan for yourself that outlines HOW you will achieve the goals you set. If you need assistance, read this detailed guide.

3.) You believe others are lucky and you aren’t

Does it seem like no matter what you do, things just don’t work out in your favor? Do you believe other people have it easier and are luckier than you?

If you answered yes, you’re not alone.

Many people feel this way from time to time. Life is like a rollercoaster of unexpected events, and sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to.

But, when you’re feeling down and defeated remember — everyone has a unique life path, you included. Rather than spending your time and energy focusing on what other people have or are doing, focus instead on all of the ways you can shape and improve your own life.

Luck is something that comes into play when people take action, not before. The more you take action and work toward bringing your dreams to life, the more breaks and opportunities you’ll experience.

4.) You use the phrase “I can’t” frequently

If “I can’t” is a regular part of your vocabulary, this is a telltale sign your beliefs are holding you hostage. The phrase “I can’t” limits you from problem-solving, and improving your situation. It keeps you stuck in a state of lack, and prevents you from figuring out solutions on how you could propel yourself forward.

The more you use the words “I can’t,” the more you believe you’re incapable of solving your own problems.

You can break this limiting habit by reminding yourself you ALWAYS have a choice. For example, if you want to run a 5k marathon but aren’t physically fit enough right now, rather than saying “I can’t” instead say, “I am actively working on my fitness, and will be able to run a 5k marathon in six months.”

By shifting the narrative from how you can’t to how you can, you empower yourself to take action.

5.) You’re afraid of judgement

If you hold yourself back from trying new things because you’re afraid of what other people will say or think, I have news for you: People will judge you regardless.

There’s no such thing as pleasing everyone. People will have opinions about everything you do — and you can bet they won’t always agree.

Regardless, if you let your fear of judgement hold you back from living life on your terms, you’ll miss out on so much!

At the end of the day, you have no control over what other people think or feel, but you do have control over yourself. Honor your life by pursuing your interests, and exploring!

When you judge another you do not define them, you define yourself. Click To Tweet

Don’t spend another day letting any of these 5 suggestions hold you hostage. Break free from limiting patterns and embrace the divine and limitless creator your truly are!

Sending love, Xx,


About Antasha Durbin: Antasha is a spiritual writer and life-long student of the universe. Her website, cajspirituality.com, is dedicated to simplifying the spiritual experience and making it attainable for everyone. Follow her for free, easy-to-digest, and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness, and empowered living.

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2 thoughts on “5 Telltale Signs Your Beliefs Are Holding You Hostage

  1. Thank you for sharing, Antasha. What a powerful example of how one persons words can squash a person’s dreams.
    Five excellent points, that judgement one is a huge one. Peer pressure and fear of being judged is not just for kids. Adults’ experience it all the time as well. 🙏

    1. Canuck Carl,

      Absolutely! And releasing that fear is an ongoing process. It creeps up from time to time, and usually we aren’t even conscious of it!


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