San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Conquering limiting beliefs

In order to find genuine happiness and lead empowered lives, we must first begin to live in the moment, which can be challenging. Mindfulness practices can help you cultivate this lifestyle by encouraging you to bring your awareness back to the present moment and focus your attention on one thing at a time. This column aims to open a space for readers to ask questions and receive answers from a mindful perspective.

Q: Every year I create my list of goals for the new year, positive that I will reach them this time. As April arrives, I find myself again short of where I wanted to be. Why does this keep happening?

A: A natural stepping-stone from your question is to ask yourself, “What is holding me back?” Try to set aside some quiet time to be able to mindfully reflect upon the answer. Use mindfulness to let go of the judgment and just accept it; it is neither good nor bad. Sometimes the answer is simple and along the lines of just modifying your goals.

However, one of the most common causes of hitting a block when trying to achieve your deepest desires is a limiting belief. What is a limiting belief? Belief systems function on a subconscious level, beyond our active awareness. Limiting belief systems often turn out to be the negative self-talk that goes on loudly inside your head. While you may feel like it is real, it is merely an ugly, distorted perception of the truth. Generally, these beliefs are integrated at a young age and unknowingly begin to shape choices and actions in life. Many people have had the experience of identifying the limiting or negative beliefs, but feel powerless to change it. They try to combat it with rationale and intellect without success.

In order to truly shift the belief to a positive one, it is helpful to work with a counselor or psychologist trained in certain techniques that can work on that level. This allows the shift to come from the inside out, which removes the obstacle from the path and opens the full potential for growth and flourishing.

Natalie Garvey D., M.Psych., is a California native and an eight-year resident of Costa Rica. Recognized by the Costa Rican Professional Psychologists Association (4496), she dedicates her professional time to accompanying others on their path of self-discovery and healing. Send your questions to

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