These 5 Thoughts Are Holding You Back

Jenna Kutcher 

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April 22, 2020


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Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of an internal convo where you’re actually talking yourself out of doing something you felt strongly drawn to do? Now, I’m no psychologist, so I’m speaking from experience here, but most times when I’ve had this inner back and forth of should I, shouldn’t I, it’s because I know deep down what I WANT to do, but I’ve heard other voices in my head telling me why shouldn’t or why I’m not qualified or why I’ll fail.

Other voices might be a parent or a teacher who held you back or put you in a box for some reason. It could be a friend or mentor who once whispered your deepest insecurity out loud, proving you were right about yourself all along. It could just be society as a whole, the messaging we’re consuming, the people we are allowing to influence our lives. As progressive as we’re becoming, there are still things that don’t seem as acceptable to our world as a whole, and all of that can easily hold you back from your dreams if you let it.

We ALL have these insecurities. These voices that come at us in the form of external messaging and then internal reminders, again and again and again. Beyonce, Brene Brown, Brittany Spears, and you and I all deal with it because — spoiler alert — it’s part of being a human. But the thing is, we don’t all know how to recognize our limiting beliefs, and then decide to move past them in a healthy way in order to fulfill the great things we’re meant to do in this world.

THAT in and of itself is the more challenging work but also the more rewarding work. And so I want to walk you through 5 of the most common limiting beliefs that everyone, but women especially, encounter. And how to move past them, and continue on your journey of being the most confident, most happy, free version of you and empowering others along the way. Let’s get into the most common limiting beliefs that we all face at some point.

I’m not worthy of getting paid to do what I love

I think this belief is born because of the age we’re currently in. I know my parents generation had a commonly held belief that you need to go to college, work for one company, gain seniority, get the benefits, and climb the corporate ladder until you retire at 65. I don’t know about you but that concept is practically foreign nowadays. I can’t imagine staying in one place for my entire career, and that’s because our current opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship are at an all-time high. Online job searching and career networking via social media has made it possible to move from job to job until you find one that fits, or you decide to start your own business instead.

But I still see so many entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs mainly, who struggle with monetizing their passions. It’s like because they enjoy something, it would be wrong to get paid for it. They feel bad charging a certain amount or downplay their offer because the truth is, your passions don’t feel like work a lot of the time. So instead, we under-charge, work for free, do favors or believe it’s wrong to get paid to do what we love. We carry this guilt every time we send out our prices or an invoice and feel like a fraud for collecting money for something that just comes naturally to you or is flat out fun.

I get it, because money can mean so much more to us than just being a number in your bank account or cash in a wallet. It signifies freedom and independence. It’s the foundation for propelling yourself forward into your dreams and using it to invest in yourself. It’s the sign that you don’t need to rely on ANYONE else to take care of yourself, not your parents, not your spouse, not a loan or a crummy boss or an ex.

Making your own money is this empowering, beautiful thing with so many emotions attached to it — so no wonder we often get caught up in how to price our items and services. When we feel like our goods are second nature, we downplay our pricing or undervalue our time because at the core, we struggle with worthiness. Your gifts and talents are SO unique to you and so very special that you should feel capable of charging a premium rate because they’re that standout.

I’m as afraid of being successful as I am of failing

What would you do if all your dreams came true? Would you finally be happy? Or would you panic and wonder: what’s next? So many of us think we fear failure — which we know by the way, is an essential part of pursuing great things, but in reality we’d rather prove ourselves right that of course we’d fail instead of becoming a massive success.

Success holds as much weight if not more fear than failure itself. You wonder with success if you’ll become a bigger target, or if you’ll fall harder whenever things get difficult after reaching some mega-milestone. Women tend to be more afraid of success than failure because they think it might open them up to criticism, judgement, and public failure, too. We so desperately hate to imagine what the masses would really think of us. We don’t want to hear from haters, or naysayers, or critics, and so we continue to play just small enough that we don’t utilize the full potential that we’re capable of.

Success isn’t free of challenges — I’ve read the comments from people who only have nasty things to say about me online. I’ve seen DMs and comment threads of assumptions about me and my family. But at the end of the day, they’re drops in the ocean compared to all the people who I’ve educated and shared resources with so they can imperfectly chase their dreams.

Failure sucks, yes, but are you holding yourself back from success because you’re not sure you could handle all that could come with it? Success is NOT something to be afraid of, if you’re pursuing it with the goal to impact and help and lift up others greatly.

We’re told we’re too much and not enough

As women, it’s easy to feel like we are too much of something: too strong, too loud, too ambitious, too strategic — while simultaneously not measuring up. Like we’re too much and at the same time we’re not good enough, not worthy enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough. It’s complex being a human being, isn’t it?

In my conversation with Ed Mylett on The Goal Digger Podcast, he said: Wow, men never get asked to be less and be more. They don’t even consider those thoughts. It’s like, yep, Ed! Welcome to our world! But really, I know I’m not alone and I know other women are nodding along with me, feeling this same tug to be everything to everyone at all times while also playing small enough to not overstep. And it is exhausting.

But when I drill down into it and get really quiet with myself, I can hear my own voice so much better, it’s usually gentler than that inner-mean girls voice but it’s there. And my voice is the thing that guides what I do in my business, my brand, and how I choose to show up both online and in real life.

If you’re feeling like you’re too much and not enough in the same breath, I urge you to try to get quiet, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Just sit somewhere without a phone or computer in your face and breathe, and ask yourself: how do I need to show up well for myself, my family, and my community today? What are you my gifts and how can I share them with the world in the unique way that only I can? What do I know to be true about myself and my identity?

Whatever you’ve been told about who you are, the impact you have, or the path you’ve been on in the past does NOT need to dictate where you’re going right in this very moment. I know the fear of judgment is so strong and can easily control our thoughts and actions, but simply checking in with you and being aware of who is in the driver’s seat of your life helps to quiet all the pleas and pulls in different directions.

I’m not an expert

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from wannabe entrepreneurs, coaches, educators — I mean, hello, who here really feels like an expert? I get it! Just like we feel fear to get paid for our gifts and talents, those gifts are also often too close for us to recognize as a valuable asset to share and teach to others.

It’s called being too close to your genius, and it can be easy to get all cozied up with yours and not realize that it is the thing that could be changing your life and the lives of so many others.

You don’t need to have a hit a certain metric, have a specific amount of followers or email list subscribers, or have 37 testimonials for your skill. You don’t need to have a certification, degree, or any other sort of permission to go after your dreams. We’re always looking for qualifications, boxes to check and we desire to feel perfectly ready and prepared before jumping into something new. And especially these days, it’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game and look at alllll the other people out there already doing what you want to do. Like, if we were all waiting to be experts, we’d be waiting forever. How could we possibly measure up?

Here’s the thing. No one has your exact experience. No one has your specific background. No one else has your humor, your wit, your relatability, your stories, your wins, your lessons learned. The very YOU-ness that comprises you is what sets you apart, and that’s not something to take lightly. We take for granted the quirks and details that make us different because, hello, so much of our lives are often spent wanting and trying and yearning to fit in.

Playing up the uniqueness of you might be scary, but it’s the one thing that will gain traction with people who need to learn from you. Your dream audience, clients, customers, or community need to hear your exact experiences and outlook, and they’re just out there waiting for you to show up.

I can’t be a good mother and have a good career

Or this, if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom and put everyone first, you may not even feel worthy of passions outside of kids and your family. I recently was listening to Barbara Cocoran’s podcast and she was talking about how all moms are miserable. All of the working moms were walking around feeling guilty that they weren’t with their kids more and all the stay at home moms were feeling guilty that they weren’t earning money. That’s a whole lotta mom-guilt happening and it’s true, I see it in my life.

I’ve felt this limiting belief that I can’t do both things well so hard this year as I’ve balanced motherhood and my business, so I know how nasty that gremlin is who’s telling you you’re not doing enough as a mom or in your work. It’s easy to feel like we’re behind in business stuff and if we ever finally catch up, then we’re neglecting our motherhood responsibilities in some way.

I don’t know if there’s ever going to be a perfect balance struck with this, and maybe that’s just the point. That we don’t NEED to achieve balance, because it’s not really possible to achieve every day over and over again. There’s never going to be a perfect balance. What we can do is acknowledge when we’re feeling mom-guilt or dropping-the-ball-in-business guilt (I made that one up because it’s SO a thing in my world).

And then we can do what we can with what we have. If you have 2 hours to focus on work, then be fully there. Stay present with what you have to work on, and when time’s up and you have to go back into mom-mode, then close up the business shop and be all in with mom-ing.

This whole presence thing is totally a practice that I have absolutely not nailed yet, but I’m trying. And I think that’s all you can expect from yourself, too. Be gracious with yourself as you practice being all in with one thing at a time, and if you find yourself rushing or bashing yourself for not doing enough or not being there for enough bedtimes or not achieving enough, just quietly remind yourself that you are only human. You are doing the best you can. And that is perfectly enough, every single time.

How do you change this narrative?

For me, after I realize a limiting belief that continues showing up, it helps me to write down a list of very real, accurate truths that I know to be guidelines for my life.

So, when a limiting belief is telling me I can’t possibly be a present, loving mama and a kick-ass business owner, I write a list with things like:

I am capable of loving my daughter and being an example for her. I am worthy of growing my business with grace, passion, and ambition. I am able to ask for help where I need it.

I don’t need to be a perfect mom OR a perfect business owner. I am doing the best I can with what I have. I will mess up, and that’s okay. I know I have surrounded myself with people who care about me, my family, and my business.

What are the truths that you know you can fall back on when those insecure beliefs continue popping up? I would love to encourage you to write down your own list of truths, and to look at it at least once a day to remember the real beliefs you hold for your life and your future. Doing this simple, small practice can literally change the way that you think and allow you to eventually let go of whatever limiting beliefs affect you the most.

At the end of the day, we all have fears and doubts that hold us back from the businesses and lives we wish we could create. But at the same time, I also know how powerful our minds are, and there are ways to reframe your mindset to embrace the things you know to be true and right and good in your world. Allow THOSE to guide you through your daily decisions and actions, because those are the things that matter and will help you navigate all the highs and lows that you encounter.

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  1. Anjuli Tuck says:

    Dear Jenna, I love this post! I am currently thinking of making a course on podcasting and I am still thinking I am not an expert even though I’ve made one. This has really helped shift my focus!


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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