How to Get Rid of Limiting Beliefs Using Qi Gong


how to get rid of limiting beliefs

Every so often in life, we work really really hard to try to make change or get ahead and it feels like one of those spy movies where someone is one step ahead of you frustrating your every move. I used to think that this was up to luck or bad timing. Then, at a rough point in my life I woke up to the fact that some old thought patterns that I was carrying around were stopping me from making the changes that I wanted. It was my qi gong practice that led to the epiphany and also my qi gong practice that showed me the way through. I took notes on what I was doing and was able to repeat the process successfully. So in this very long but worthwhile essay I am going to describe how to get rid of limiting beliefs using qi gong on your own.

Let me explain so that this doesn’t sound too mystical or intangible. I had been doing the same job for a long time and despite becoming really good it wasn’t being reflected in my income. Sadly, when I looked around it wasn’t just showing up in my job. Despite a ton of research on nutrition and weight training, I was still the same weight and just about as strong. The list goes on-and-on but understand that it was just really demoralizing and frustrating.

I mean really frustrated because despite a MOUNTAIN of effort, things just seem to stay the same. I was a smart adult, right?  I knew what to do to lose that weight or get that promotion. Why was it so perpetual and so, so difficult?

Well, when I truly sat with my thoughts to try to figure out what was holding me back, do you know what was there? The same sensations and feelings that show up during my unproductive qi gong sessions.

When I did some more digging to figure out what the issue was, I unearthed a limiting belief about myself that was not allowing me to accomplish my work tasks. Something silly that I had been holding on to for a really long time. Mine had to do with my limiting thoughts about myself but EVERYONE has them.

Here’s the thing about limiting beliefs.

They are incredibly hard to identify, but once you do, you can work to get past them. Some are related to past trauma and may take a lot of work. Most are just not true anymore and we only believe them because we always have. This is where qi gong and meditation come in.

Qi gong and meditation have the power to put us in a powerfully calm and strong place. When we think about what is limiting us, our fears, or our frustrations, they stand out like a lightbulb against a dark backdrop.

Our job is to wake up to that what is scaring or limiting us so that we can replace it with a new, positive connection. 

How do we do this? Qi gong helps us identify limited beliefs and then remain in a positive mindset to work through them.

As you can imagine, this isn’t a small topic but reading this will be worth your while. Here is what we need to understand in order to make the leaps ahead that are possible by getting past self-limiting beliefs. I divided this into five sections which you can read through or jump to by clicking on these links:

If qi gong is a new topic for you, read this to find out more about it.

limiting beliefs examples

What are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are subconscious thoughts that may have served us at one point in time but now limit our progress. They could have been developed to protect us or help us get through a tough period or were simply passed down from people who raised us. A belief becomes LIMITING when it hangs around longer than it should. Some of the most common limiting beliefs examples include:

Limiting Beliefs List

  • I am not successful because of… (fill in the blank with any external situation that is outside of your control)
  • I’m stuck – I don’t know what I want (to do in MY LIFE)
  • I am not smart enough
  • I don’t have time to (fill in the blank)
  • My genes or family history have made me this way
  • I will be rejected
  • I need to be in control

A belief is an idea that we have accepted as truth. We believe something because it defines us, protects us, helps us avoid danger, or enhance a portion of our life. A limiting belief is one that no longer serves us and limits our personal potential.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have desperately been trying to lose weight. You make progress every time you try but it is not long-lasting. You have joined classes, worked out with friends, educated yourself about nutrition, and hired a trainer. And the truth is that you have always had a pretty active lifestyle.  Yet, you continue to be unhappy with your physical state.

Finally, you decide to set the obvious plan down (nutrition and exercise plans) and deep dive into the WHY behind your limited progress. You have an amazing family and the holidays were always enjoyable.  You also love to cook and eat out with friends. It becomes apparent that your health efforts have been stripping out joy from your life and relationships. Who would keep up with a plan that kills off joy?

You shift your beliefs about what is enjoyable and add entertainment, get-togethers, and rewards to your life that are not food related. With this new belief, how do you think your progress will change going forward?

A Limiting Belief Can:

  1. Stop you from going after your dreams
  2. Prevent your growth
  3. Keep you stuck where you are
  4. Stop you from trying
  5. Color how you perceive the world
  6. Cause you to repeat negative patterns
  7. Make you risk-adverse
  8. Keep negative behaviors going
  9. Cause fear, doubt, and procrastination
  10. Give you excuses
  11. Limit what you think you are capable of
  12. Limit what you imagine is possible for yourself and your life

Limiting beliefs not only include thoughts but are also accompanied by emotional and physical reactions.  These sensations can overpower us making our voice quiet, making you avoid eye contact, tremble, and sweat. These physical reactions tell the body to stop doing whatever it is we were trying to do. Over time, this limiting response becomes such a part of us that we don’t even realize that it is walling us in and limiting how we see the world and take advantage of opportunities.

And Qi Gong Fits in How???

Let’s pause for a second. Do you see how qi gong fits in? This idea that there is “something subconsciously holding you back!!!” easily drifts into the realm of psycho-babble and theory if we don’t know what to do with it. Qi gong puts us into a physically, mentally, and emotionally neutral or rested state. When something is bothering us, it stands out. Big time.

Then, from this physically, mentally, and emotionally neutral or rested state, we can actually confront it and do something about it. In a normal day, these beliefs are cloaked by the rest of the chaos in our life and we can’t separate them out.

Limiting beliefs are just that – limiting. They are engrained into our subconscious to protect us, avoid danger, or enhance a portion of our life. Most of the time, beliefs just go away or change when they are not needed. For example, most adults are not afraid of the dark.

a woman with self-limiting beliefs

Where Do Limiting Beliefs Come From?

There are seven main influences on our beliefs. They are not as obvious an influence as going to church on Sunday, but once you know how you are being influenced, it is easier to tune-in to positive sources of information.

1. From Family Members and Friends

Those close to you and those who raised you worked to help you enter the world as a capable adult.  Their ideas about money, safety, race, and what you are capable of undoubtedly registered in your psyche. In their defense, they were trying to keep you safe and help you avoid disappointment. But what if their experience was more dangerous, limited, or impoverished than yours? From generation to generation this is often the case. Their (your adopted) belief system served a purpose but might now be more limiting than helpful.

2. From Our Culture

Race, gender, age, and nationality all carry strong beliefs and sometimes cleverly hide negative beliefs behind pride.  You get a double whammy from cultural influence. Not only do YOU believe certain things about yourself, if you get past that you have to confront stereotypes from what OTHERS think about you.

3. From the Media

Media gets funded based on ratings. High ratings are based on listener and viewer engagement.  Engagement is increased when events are more negative and disastrous. What is more newsworthy:

An officer was killed in the line of duty today. – 30 million were not.

10 major stocks fell today on the Dow Jones Industrial Average – 489 rose.

3388 killed on the roads in Texas this year alone. – It is the lowest number ever.

All 6 statements above are true. Which do you think will get reported on? How do you think the media’s reporting of these events would influence your beliefs about the state of the country or economy?

4. From Corporations

It goes without saying that your willingness to buy something is often dependent on your belief of whether or not you need or deserve it. Advertising understands the psychology of belief all too well. It is not underhanded. They believe their product will meet your needs are trying to convince you of that. It is the residue left on you by being exposed to some advertisement that is problematic.

For example, let’s say you purchase a vacation after watching a commercial of a man falling asleep at his desk, getting irritated with his family, and eating horribly. “Is this you?” the commercial asks. Conversely, what if you book the same vacation because you believe you had an amazing year? Same action, but your beliefs around the vacation will dramatically influence how you perceive the trip and the advertisement had a lot to do with it.  Or as Southwest Airlines puts it: “Wanna get away?”

5. From Sickness

Symptoms are messages that the body is sending to give you clues to help it heal. Whether the physical symptom is a headache, runny nose, or a more serious diagnosis, your body is starting a dialogue with you.  And how do you currently perceive these symptoms? Do you ignore them? Power through? Disguise the pain with drugs? If so, you might “believe” that your body is betraying you, or that you are weak.  How do you think your health would change if you believed that this dialogue with your body is the starting point for healing?

6. From traumatic emotional events

Let’s face it, humans can be really awful to humans. And when we are on the receiving end of this awfulness, we don’t want it to happen again, we avoid, we protect, we resent, we anger, and we rage for all the appropriate reasons. And after? We can continue to avoid, protect, resent, anger, and rage because these unfortunate past events have colored our perception and beliefs about the world.

7. From traumatic physical events

Memories, physical and emotional responses can actually be stored in our tissues. Studies going back as far as the late 1800s show that our posture affects our mental and emotional state. For example, frowning and walking stooped over can result in sadness and an open super-woman stance can be empowering.  What can happen during physical trauma such as a car accident is that we brace ourselves in a defensive posture at the point of impact. Muscles get torn and we can be frozen in this “brace-yourself” posture as we heal. Thus, the body continues to telegraph “something bad is coming.”

We acquire most of our beliefs unconsciously. Once accepted and imprinted into our subconscious mind, it takes no effort to maintain them. For healthy beliefs and thinking, this is a really positive thing. For bad or negative beliefs, we just need to unearth the ones that are no longer needed and may be stopping us from reaching our true potential.

limited beliefs essay with flowers in a window

Why Do We Have Limiting Beliefs?

By this point I haven’t been doing a good job singing the merits of self-limiting beliefs and it begs the question of why we even have limiting beliefs in the first place. You might be thinking: “Why would we believe something that is bad for us?”  Or worse: “Is there something wrong with me?”

This is a short and important part of the essay where I deviate from other literature on limiting beliefs – BIG TIME.

Our Incorrect Limiting Arguments

I am tired of hearing two arguments:

“Our brain/body would do something bad to us.”

Have to call bull on this one. Even cancer is the result of the body encasing something bad for us in a protective shell (a tumor) to isolate it from the body. If we treat the body’s processes as an enemy you will get “the fight of your life.”

“I am mentally damaged/weak/broken/…”

Bull number two. If you lack willpower, discipline, focus, whatever you feel makes you subpar, you subconscious is introducing drag into the system to slow you down or protect you. Remove the barrier, remove the symptom.

You are not alone

Limiting beliefs affect ALL of us. Once we identify them, they are often easy to get past and dismiss.  But they lurk and affect us without us realizing it.

The truth is, all of us spend much of our lives under-achieving, not because of people, luck, fate, destiny, circumstances, or events, but because our beliefs our outdated or negative and are therefore limiting our potential.  They served us at one point, but now they don’t, but we just keep holding on to them.

The good news is that ALL limiting beliefs can be changed.  It doesn’t matter if they formed as a young child or are brand new. The brain simply linked an experience to an emotion or feeling.

The problem is that we don’t know that we are being affected by them. Qi gong has the ability to 1) bring them to the surface and 2) put us in the perfect mental state to deal with them.

Here’s what the process looks like:

You do qi gong and quickly enter into a calm, warm, tuned-in, happy, state.  Even if your qi gong or meditation session stinks, aren’t you better than you were 20 minutes ago?

This state makes anything that feels WRONG stand out immediately. After a qi gong session, you are in the peak mental place to be thinking about what you want to accomplish in life.

Typically, one of two things happen:

  1. You get energetic ideas about what to do next. You are empowered, excited, and have a plan.  If this is the case, carry on soldier.
  2. Excuses come to mind along with all the reasons you will fail. Sometimes this is accompanied by a physical change (fatigue, pain). If this is the case, you may have a limiting belief holding you back.

Grappling with things that make you feel bad is hard work and I applaud you. Especially if it is icky stuff from our past. But aren’t you beginning to get excited a bit? The fact that there might be way to make tangible progress? The idea that you might not be flawed or damaged goods? In the next essay, we will talk about why most people unsuccessful dealing with their limiting beliefs so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

open flowers in a window

Why are self-limiting beliefs so hard to identify?

Knowledge about how limiting beliefs negatively impact our lives is finally reaching the masses. Most of the initial work was done by psychologists helping their patients and the positive results were soon adopted by many people trying to improve their lives. When new research is adopted by the general public, there are a few people who radically improve their lives while many don’t achieve the same results.  What is the difference?  There are three main reasons why the majority of people still let a negative belief system get in the way of their amazing potential and countless opportunities.

1.   The Focus is on the Past

Much of what we understand about limiting beliefs comes out of the field of psychology.  With it comes a heavy reliance on uncovering childhood or past traumas to understand why we believe what we do.  The idea is that if we can understand when and why the belief began, we can change it.  This is true in some cases, but there are some problems with this strategy.

  • It happened in the past. What can we actually do about it?  Yes, having knowledge about why you believe the things you can be really helpful in understanding why you feel the way you do.  But it doesn’t really give us a roadmap for how to proceed to improve how we react to events in the PRESENT.
  • What if we are wrong? The past means “the past” and our memories and others’ memories really aren’t that accurate.
  • It can demonize people who love us. Parenting is tough!  This isn’t an excuse for abusive parenting, but our parents probably made the best decisions they could with what they knew at the time.  Many things we remember as mean or scary were events that were intended to protect us.  We may have been traumatized but may not understand the real reason why things happened.  Again, whether it is true or not true, we want to address it with the goal of improving our outlook TODAY.
  • It keeps us looking in the rearview mirror, not the present or future. The past is only one-of-three sources for our beliefs.  If we only focus on the past, we miss what is happening today or what we believe about what is coming tomorrow.

Keep reading because soon we will share not one but SEVEN things that influence what we believe.

2.   Beliefs Are Demonized

All of the beliefs we have or had serve a very important purpose, usually to protect us and keep us safe.  There is no such thing as a bad belief, only one we no longer need and have to work to replace.

Really well-intentioned resources want to share successes they have seen with limiting beliefs but they don’t take into account how complex we are as people.  They broadly ask us to uncover limiting beliefs about who we are as a whole.  There is one major problem and one major lost opportunity with this line of thinking:

The Problem:  If we think about our limiting belief in a generally way – “I am not smart,” then we attach it to our SELF, who we are at the core.  This is really hard to get rid of because it almost seems like a personality trait. We are complex people and the truth is that you may have great self-esteem at work and terrible self-esteem at social gatherings. You may be highly educated but feel dumb when it comes to nutrition.  The subconscious mind is very difficult to pin down if we don’t specifically identify where in our life our limiting belief is being disruptive.

The Lost Opportunity:  If we qualify WHERE exactly our limiting belief is affecting us, we can take examples from the rest of our life to prove our limiting belief wrong and immediately jump past it.  Back to our example:  “I am not smart enough” becomes “I am not smart enough at making money.”  Which means, I am probably smart at things like my job or fitness and nutrition.  So, it is not a ME issue or a SMARTNESS issue it is a LEARNING issue.  We can fix that.

This is what we are inviting you to experience.  Without limiting beliefs standing in your way, experiencing your true potential becomes completely doable.   The next and last essay will highlight some ways to do it.

two flowers in a window

Strategies For How to Get Rid of Your Limiting Beliefs

Congrats!  You made it to the final and most important section! We’ve been talking about how negative emotions and thoughts arising during meditation and qi gong sessions do not mean that you are having a bad session. Your mind is showing you exactly what you need to address to make the greatest change in your life. The calm, relaxed nature of meditation just makes the negativity stand out.

It looks pretty bad though doesn’t it? Nothing like going to meditate and coming out frustrated!

“Arrrgghh! I am supposed to be calm now, darn it!!!”

All we need are a set of tools or activities to address the negativity at the point that you are aware of it. Don’t take this for granted. Most people are not aware that they are negative and reacting to their own limiting beliefs.

Getting Rid of Your Limiting Beliefs

Ultimately, we cannot remove a belief or stop ourselves from believing. This is not the natural way things work. Every belief you have ever held was maintained until it was replaced by something better or something worse. For example, maybe you used to be trusting and then you got robbed. Or maybe you used to be untrusting and then you married someone faithful. This process typically happens naturally and unconsciously. The difference going forward is that you now know how the process works. You are going to replace your belief manually with something that moves you in the direction of your greatest potential.

Allow yourself to be honest and even negative in this exercise. Let’s make sure we have a concrete idea of what our limiting belief is.  Ask yourself these questions:

Why do I not believe I can get what I want?

“Why would I stay the way I am?”

“Why can I not overcome my limiting belief?

The answers to these questions are your limiting beliefs.  Here are some examples:

I’ve had it for so long so it’s not possible for me to overcome it

It’s who I am, I can’t change who I am

I’ve tried everything and nothing works for me

It’s impossible to overcome

Now, ask yourself this question:

“What is something positive that you want to believe instead?”

The answer to this question is the positive belief you want to replace the limiting belief with.

Using the list above, here are some more examples:

Limited BeliefNew Belief
I’ve had it for so long so it’s not possible for me to overcome it   It’s who I am, I can’t change who I am     I’ve tried everything and nothing works for me   It’s impossible to overcome    I overcome obstacles in my life when I recognize them.  Examples include… I’ve been changing my whole life and continue to improve.  For example, I used to do/be… and now I … I am persistent and want real change.  That’s why this continues to be a top priority.  I have solved major problems in the past such as… I am a capable person.  When I know what the problem is, I can solve anything.  One thing in my life that I kept at and improved was…

Now that you have both the limiting belief that you want to get rid of and the positive replacement. It is time to redirect our thoughts.

Positive Intent

The words we use to describe our situation, ourselves, and the world around us govern how we perceive our life. Positive statements of intent can alter your belief system to reflect whatever you want it to reflect. You must realize that your subconscious believes everything it is told and will do everything in its power to make that belief a reality in your life.

When you realize that your subconscious mind is responsible for almost all of your behavior and actions, it becomes obvious that we have to be very intentional about the messages that we are sending. Think of it as a sort of brain hygiene. We want to give it a strict diet of healthy words, thoughts, and actions, just like want to give our body healthy food and water.

The use of positive words and imagery has been used throughout the millennia. Think of the creeds, prayers, sutras, and verse employed by every major religion. What is different here is that we are directly identifying the belief that is placing the greatest limitations on our potential and actively replacing it. Confronting our specific beliefs results in us being immediately charged with emotion. We are not verbalizing beliefs that are generally good for all society or beliefs that do not resonate with us.

At the beginning, your new belief will contradict the reality of your life. Be prepared for your subconscious mind to go to work immediately attacking you or the belief, making you doubt that change is possible, and stirring up negative emotions. If your subconsciously reacts strongly increase the believability of your new belief by adding a statement like “I am in the process of…” to your new belief.

Work daily with visual, text, app, or calendar reminders to verbalize your new belief.  This is especially important when situations and thoughts bring the old belief to the surface.  It takes time for the subconscious mind to accept the belief before it starts to display thoughts, actions, and reactions that are in line with your new belief.  In a matter of time, the new programming will take hold and results from your persistence will be evident everywhere you look.

The Thymus Thump

The Thymus is a gland that is part of the immune system and aids in producing white blood cells. It is overworked when we are stressed or sick. The unfortunate nature of the Thymus is that it shrinks as we age and it’s function is also reduced. The Thymus is located in the upper chest where the third rib meets the sternum.

The good news is that the Thymus can be stimulated by thumping the chest. This is something we observe naturally in nature (think about gorillas) and something we do without thinking. Have you ever pounded your chest while coughing, grasped your chest with both hands when scared? We can actively stimulate the Thymus to improve its function. Plus, it just makes us feel good.  Here is how you can stimulate your Thymus and immunity:

  1. Take a few deep, relaxing breaths.
  2. Use your fingertips or fist to tap up and down the upper sternum.  A
  3. Tap/thump for 15-20 seconds as you continue to take slow breaths.
  4. You can do this daily and it is recommended to do it 1-3 times each day if you are actually sick.

In Conclusion

Whether we are talking about beliefs that help us or beliefs that limit us, it is important to remember:  We made them up. And, we can get rid of limiting beliefs if we can identify them and work through them.

Something happened in our life. We judged the event or at least took note of it. We formed an idea about what happened to us. Maybe we even experienced it twice further cementing our ideas in our mind.  With enough meaning attached to the event we turned it into a belief. And from that day forward it colored the way we perceive events in our life – good or bad.

Wake up to how much power your beliefs have over your happiness and the way you live your life. You have the power to believe something else. Use these seven criteria to find a qi gong class near you or check out the qi gong set that I do daily below.

Reference: The qi gong set that I do and what I am referencing in this article is the Good Morning – Good Evening Qi Gong Set developed by Peter Ragnar and Tristan Truscott. It is the only set I recommend because it is the best combination of high-caliber teaching and high-quality learning materials so that you can make progress on your own.

Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Limiting Beliefs Using Qi Gong

  1. Thank you so much for this article. It has helped me immensely, I even had a big emotional release reading ‘I am in the process of…’

    1. Thanks for sharing Julia. Glad this information was able to help you along your path. Qigong and thinking along these lines just makes life feel so much lighter and easier. Kudos to you.

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