Using NLP for Breaking Free of Self-Limiting Beliefs

Most of us have beliefs that hold us in place, that keep us from becoming the people we’d like to become. Because this is something affecting nearly everyone, today, let’s talk about breaking free of self-limiting beliefs using NLP.

How Self-Limiting Beliefs Affect Us

Does it feel at times like there is an invisible power holding you back? An energy that, no matter how hard you try, keeps pushing you back to the starting line, or even worse, behind where you began?

Well, there could be a force just like that affecting you.

What is this force?

It’s what you tell yourself and, as a result, what you believe about yourself to be true. If your beliefs limit what you believe you can accomplish then they are holding you back.

But don’t worry. If this is happening to you, we’re going to look at how you can use NLP to break free of limiting beliefs and start living the kind of life you want to live.  

What Self-limiting Beliefs are Holding You Back?

In his book, I’m OK, You’re OK, Thomas Harris tells us that “by the time we get to our late teens and early adulthood, most of us have come to think that who we are is just not good enough’.

This is so true. All of us doubt ourselves, at least every once in a while. But left unchecked, self-limiting beliefs can take over your life and prevent you from living the life you really want to live.

Often, these self-limiting beliefs take shape in your self-talk, what you tell yourself and a regular basis.

Here are a few examples of negative self-talk phases that might be holding you back:

“I’m not good enough.”

“I’ll never succeed.”

“I don’t deserve happiness.”

“I don’t have what it takes to be successful.”

If you find that you’re telling yourself any of these, or something similar, you’re going to need to take steps to reshape your self-talk and self-image.

While there are many ways you can do this, today, let’s examine how you can use NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs and creating new, empowering beliefs.

How you can use NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) has many techniques you can use for a variety of purposes. From using anchoring to bring up a specific feeling or emotion to change your state, to using reframing to change how you see a situation, NLP can help you change your life for the better.

It can also help in identifying, challenging and breaking free of self-limiting beliefs. Let’s examine some of these techniques now. 


A frame, or frame of reference is how you see the world.

Here’s an example. Imagine two people standing on opposite sides of a glass wall in an art gallery. Both people are looking at the same painting.

Because of where they are standing, their frame of reference of the artwork is different. One may see the front of the painting, while the other sees the back and the reflection of the room behind them.

Understanding this concept is one way you can use NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs, by consciously altering how you see or perceive a situation or belief.  

The process involves changing the frame or lens through which you view something. In the case of looking at the art, walking around from the back to the front of the painting.

By reframing your self-limiting beliefs, you can shift your perspective. This new perspective can help you break free from the negative thought patterns that may have been holding you back.


Another powerful technique from NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs is anchoring. With this technique you associate a specific physical or mental state with a desired belief or outcome.

By creating an anchor, such as a gesture or word, you can trigger a positive state.

I’ve often used this for clients that are experiencing a fear of public speaking. By associating a touch, like firmly pressing their thumb and forefinger together, with a feeling of confidence and calmness, they can reduce their stage anxiety.

I teach them to practice this anchor right before and during their public speaking engagement. This helps them gradually shift their self-limiting belief about public speaking to a more empowering one.


Submodalities refer to the sensory qualities we attach to our thoughts and experiences. These qualities come from any of your senses, sight, touch, or sound. Your understanding of how your how your submodalities affect your perception of events can be used for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs.   

For example, you might find that sound is the sub-modality of a self-limiting belief. In your head you hear “I’m not good enough”. After paying attention, you find the voice you hear is that of a coach you had years ago.

By modifying the voice, you can use NLP to challenge the self-limiting beliefs associated with that voice.

For example, you could change the voice of the coach to that of Mickey Mouse or some other cartoon character. Once you’ve changed the voice, you can use the space you’ve created to replace your negative thought with a positive one.

Breaking free of self-limiting beliefs using the six-step reframe:

Another technique you can use for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs is the “Six-Step Reframe.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Establish the positive intention of the behavior:

NLP practitioners believe that there is a positive reason behind everything we do. Try to figure out what the positive intention or purpose is behind the behavior you’re doing.

For example, reaching for a candy bar when you’re low on energy in the afternoon. The focus on this step is understanding the underlying motivation.

2. Find alternative behaviors:

Next, explore different alternative behaviors or strategies that can fulfill the positive intention you identified in step one. For example, going for a 10-minute walk outside or meditating for 5 minutes in the bathroom.

3. Test the alternatives:

Test each alternative behavior to see if it aligns with the positive intention of the behavior and produces the result you’re looking for.

4. Evaluate and integrate:

While both behaviors you’re testing might align with the positive intention of the old behavior, providing you with more energy, you find you’re more comfortable walking for 10 minutes. Now it’s time to integrate that behavior into your life.

5. Install the new behavior or thought pattern:

Once you’ve identified the alternatives you want to use, you can begin installing the new behavior or thought pattern. This might involve creating mental anchors or cues to trigger the desired behavior or thought when needed.

For example, when you find yourself feeling low on energy, you touch the middle of the back of your neck, your signal to get up and start walking.

6. Future pace:

Finally, mentally rehearse and visualize yourself successfully implementing your chosen alternative behavior in future situations.

See yourself enjoying you walks and feeling better, both physically and mentally, from them. This reinforces your choice and helps it become a replacement habit.

Timeline Therapy:

This technique involves revisiting past memories or experiences related to your self-limiting beliefs and then transforming them into new empowering beliefs.

For example, you can use the timeline to go back to the time when you first experienced the disempowering belief. You can then release the negative emotions associated with it and reframe that past experience in a way that supports your growth and success.

Meta Programs:

Meta programs are another way to use NLP to challenge self-limiting beliefs. A meta-program is a pattern of thinking that affects how you perceive reality. These perceptions control your focus and, ultimately, your decisions, behaviors, and actions.

Here’s an example. Let’s say we give two people the task of describing a picture they are both looking at.

Person A is a detail-oriented person. They tend to notice the small, specific details in the picture, such as the texture of the grass and the color of the sky.

Person B is a big-picture person. This person tends to notice the overall impression of the picture, such as the mood and the composition.

In this case, let’s say you’re a big-picture person. Knowing your pattern, you can ask specific questions to challenge generalizations, distortions, and deletions in your thinking.

This can lead to a clearer understanding of your beliefs, giving you a higher possibility of change.

Use NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs starting today!

As you can see, there are many ways you can use NLP for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs. From reframing to meta-programs, you can learn to tame your negative and begin living the kind of life you want to live.

Also remember that while you can practice with these all on your own, working with a trained NLP practitioner or coach can help provide the guidance and support you need for more rapid and long-lasting results.

No matter which path you choose, start using NLP today for breaking free of self-limiting beliefs today so you can begin creating the life you desire.  

Ready to realize your potential?

Challenge the inner voice that tells you “you can’t.” With some NLP tricks, you can finally take control of self-limiting beliefs and open up a world of possibilities. Learning these basics is easy – download your FREE NLP cheat sheet today and get one step closer to breaking free of limiting beieifs and achieving your goals!

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