top of page

Self Limiting Beliefs in Mid Life. Are the stories you tell yourself holding you back?

Updated: Mar 7

Table of Contents

About the Author - Nancy Leeds Gribble

Introduction to Self Limiting Beliefs

Creating a new belief that your story can change

Who doesn’t love a good story?

I know I do! Even from a very young age, stories reel us in, captivate us and leave us wanting more. Fictional stories bring us into the space of the storyteller and make us believe it’s all true, the characters are real, and the events unfolding are truly happening. And because they are written down, we can’t change a thing. The story will play out exactly as scripted.

That’s what we expect from a good story. That’s what we want. Except..when the story that we are telling ourselves is full of negative self-talk and self limiting beliefs about why we are not living to our fullest potential, trying new things, reaching our goals and getting healthy and fit.

Are you stuck? Are your stories on repeat playing themselves out, over and over? Having heard these stories so many times, do they feel like absolute truths, foregone conclusions and unchangeable?

I'm telling you that you can change your story. It's never too late.

Where Do Self Limiting Beliefs Come From?

Where do self limiting beliefs come from?

Before we can begin to change our limiting thoughts, we need to develop awareness of these thoughts, and identify and understand exactly what they are and where they come from. Understanding the origin of our self limiting thoughts can be a difficult and challenging task. This requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and confront the patterns of negative thinking that have developed over time. Do they come from personal hurt or experience? Are they rooted in early childhood conditioning?

Developing this understanding of the origin of our thoughts will help us learn how to recognize and challenge these thoughts as they arise so that they no longer hold us back. With this knowledge, we can work toward creating a healthier mindset focused on achieving our goals and living life to its fullest potential.

Common Sources of Self Limiting Beliefs

Family history

Family history can have a powerful effect on the beliefs that we adopt about ourselves. For many of us, our family histories create and perpetuate limiting beliefs that keep us from achieving our goals and living out our dreams. We may believe that we are not capable of accomplishing certain things or creating meaningful change because this has been modeled to us in our family’s past experiences. This type of personal narrative can be difficult to challenge. However, it is important to note that these beliefs do not necessarily have to define who we are or what we can achieve moving forward. By being aware of how family history and stories influence our own individual narratives, we can work towards challenging these limiting ideas and creating new paths for ourselves.

Life experiences

Life experiences can also often create and perpetuate limiting beliefs. If we have experienced failure, lack of success, or other unpleasant circumstances in life, these things can create a strong sense of self-doubt and insecurity that prevent us from believing we are capable of achieving great things. These feelings can become deeply ingrained into our identity over time, resulting in the beliefs that we are incapable of succeeding or that our goals are too unrealistic to achieve. Limiting beliefs like these can create an emotional barrier that prevents us from taking risks, trying new things, or pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. This ultimately stands in the way of personal growth and development. It is important to recognize and challenge these limiting beliefs so we do not let them control our lives and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

Unhealthy relationships

Limiting beliefs resulting from past relationships can lead to feelings of inferiority, lack of worthiness, and an inability to reach our full potential. In a toxic relationship, it is common for one partner to feel like they are not good enough or that they have nothing to offer the other partner. This can lead to a debilitating sense of insecurity and low self-esteem – both of which can be carried into future relationships even after the current unhealthy relationship has ended. Furthermore, being in an unhealthy relationship can cause us to develop certain patterns of behavior that reinforce negative thoughts and emotions about ourselves. All of these factors make it more difficult for anyone who has experienced a bad relationship to move on in a successful and healthy manner.

Self limiting beliefs can stem from unhealthy relationships

Comparison with others

When we compare ourselves to those around us, we can easily get caught up in the idea that others are somehow better or more capable than us, leading to feelings of inadequacy. These feelings then lead to self-doubt and negative thoughts, which can prevent us from taking risks, trying new things, or exploring opportunities. Comparison with others also reinforces external standards of success and beauty which are not realistic or achievable for all individuals, thus creating an unrealistic sense of comparison and competition that can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and decreased motivation. Learning how to find contentment in our own progress and successes, rather than comparing ourselves to others, is a much healthier and productive way of living.


Perfectionism often involves thinking in black-and-white terms, such as seeing success as only absolute perfection and failure as anything less than perfect. These kinds of rigid beliefs create an impossible standard, leading to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy when perfection isn’t achieved. Additionally, perfectionistic tendencies can lead us to avoid trying new things or taking risks for fear of not meeting our own unrealistic ideals, further perpetuating these self limiting thoughts and behaviors.

When perfectionism goes unchecked, it becomes a significant source of stress and unhappiness. Understanding how perfectionism leads to unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior is crucial in breaking these cycles and discovering more effective ways to set and achieve our goals.By striving for more realistic standards and breaking free from negative thoughts, we can achieve greater inner peace and pave the path to true success.

The 5 Most Common Self Limiting Beliefs in Women in Midlife (and how to challenge them).

How to overcome limiting beliefs

Limiting Belief 1. I'm too old to start now

I have coached hundreds of women over 40 and one of the first things they often say is that they feel it’s too late to achieve the body they desire due to hormone changes, having babies, and the natural aging process. They believe that their body simply won’t change. While it’s true we need to do things differently at different stages of life, it is not true that we cannot change our bodies at any age. There are countless examples of women who didn’t start their health and fitness journeys until their 60s, 70s and even 80s, yet they made great progress.The limiting belief of “I’m too old” really just prevents us from taking the first step because it holds us in a “why even bother” state of mind.

Limiting Belief 2. I don’t have time for this

As a woman over 40 you are, no doubt, juggling a variety of responsibilities, from careers to caring for children, grandchildren and/or aging parents. You may honestly feel like you don’t have time to devote to your own health and fitness because others need you more. The reality is, however, that you may not be able to find the time, but you do need to create it. You need to plan time. Put your workouts on your calendar and decide they are important meetings you cannot miss. Do weekly meal planning and prepping or find a healthy meal delivery service. Don’t view this as taking time away from others. You know the oxygen mask saying, “put yours on first”? The same is true here. Take care of yourself first so you can best take care of those you love.

Self limiting beliefs

Limiting Belief 3. I’ve tried everything and nothing works

I get this one. I really do. As a recovering yo-yo dieter, attempting every “shiny new object” routine or program that came on the market, I truly felt I had tried it all and nothing worked. I began to think that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. This led to feelings of hopelessness and the belief, as stated above in number one, of “why bother?”. The good news? It’s just not true. There is a way to eat and exercise that works with our bodies and not against, even in midlife and beyond. When you incorporate the foundations of nutrition and fitness with a structured plan and specific strategies, you will burn fat, create lean muscle and gain energy. It is possible and bonus - it’s not by spending hours in the gym!

Limiting Belief 4. I'm too stressed and tired to exercise

This may feel like an absolute fact, but here’s the deal… You have to push past it and just start. Motivation comes AFTER action. Keep it simple. Don’t worry about the length or intensity of the exercise you choose. Just begin to consciously create space for movement in your life. Increase as you can. As you do this, you’ll begin to realize that exercise can help to reduce stress and boost your energy levels! Win! (And maybe, like me, you’ll come to find exercise is the best form of therapy.)

Common limiting beliefs

Limiting Belief 5. I don’t deserve to take care of myself

You may not be consciously aware of thoughts like this, but they may be underlying many of your self limiting beliefs. Many women struggle with feelings of guilt or shame when it comes to prioritizing their own health and fitness. They may believe they don’t deserve to take care of themselves, or that it’s selfish to do so. This can be a difficult mindset to overcome. There may even be past trauma and emotions that must be worked through. Regardless, it’s worth taking the time to do this because YOU are worth it! Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary for your overall health and well being.

About The Author

Nancy Leeds Gribble, Founder & CEO of NourishLiftGrow, is a Women’s Wellness and Weight-loss Coach and Plant-based Culinary Nutrition Expert. She works with driven women who are ready to finally end the roller coaster dieting and excess weight gain, get their nutrition balanced for optimal health and hormones, gain energy, and create a body and life they feel FANTASTIC living in! You can find her at and on Instagram @nancyleedsgribble



bottom of page