Are negative beliefs holding you back at work - blog image

All of us have a tape inside our heads that contains our beliefs about our world, including those about work. Can you relate to any of these?

  • You have to work hard to get ahead
  • Only pretty/young/educated/well-connected/extroverted people succeed
  • I’m not good at [creativity/numbers/collaboration], but I can have anything if I want it enough
  • Near enough is good enough
  • No one ever helps me

Some of your beliefs are no doubt useful to you (‘I can be really determined’) but it’s quite possible to sidestep beliefs that are no longer true, or which aren’t helpful (‘I never finish things’).

What are some of your beliefs about work? About success? About change? What do you believe about risk- taking? About the importance of money? Are they useful to you? (Are they true?)

Here are five tips for working with those beliefs that no longer serve you:

1.Get clear

The first step in changing limiting beliefs is to get really clear – what actually are your perspectives and attitudes? Write a list of your beliefs about work, then look through them, think about them, journal about them, and see what comes up. You may be surprised. By doing this, you have started the process of detaching your beliefs from your sense of self, and started to see that they are only filters through which we see reality, not reality itself.

2.Do a reality check

While beliefs are not reality, if you act as if they are, you will succeed in creating a life for yourself that fits with the beliefs. For example, if you believe you’re a failure, you are likely to behave as such, and in doing so you will create a self-fulfilling prophecy – but if you believe you are a confident and attractive person, you will walk, talk and act that way and vastly increase the chances that others will see you that way as well. Try it and see for yourself.

3.What if the belief is true?

You may hold beliefs that do have some objective truth right now, but which you would like to change. The way to work with this is by steadily changing your reality. If you believe that you can’t solve difficult problems, and on testing it seems that you really do lack skill in this area then why not find a course, read a book or do whatever it takes to become more skilled at problem solving? Then test the belief again – you may be pleasantly surprised.


If you believe you have no confidence, or you are scared to tackle something new, say to yourself ‘OK, so I believe I am not confident’ or ‘I believe this is really scary’ – and then just do whatever you want to do anyway. A belief is only a concept, not reality, so if you hold the belief in one hand and go ahead with your plans with the other hand, you will slowly create a reality that conflicts with the belief, and the belief will lose its power.

5. You don’t have to do it alone

Beliefs can be very deeply held and difficult to change overnight. Be patient with yourself, and if you find the going tough, talk to someone (like a counsellor or coach) who is trained to distinguish between beliefs and reality and can support you in handling the beliefs that are holding you back.

Boost your productivity and performance by learning how to use negative feedback to your advantage and how you can overcome imposter syndrome.


Negative beliefs could well be holding your career back, but there are five clear ways to side step them:

  • Get clear on what your perspectives and attitudes are 
  • Perform a reality check – do you believe you’re a failure or a winner? 
  • Embark on ways to improve your weaknesses 
  • Sidestep the negativity Don’t combat this alone
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