Identifying and Addressing “Unconscious Beliefs” that Can Limit Your Success (Part 1)

“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” –Earl Nightingale

The business principles I teach to lawyers have the potential to create unlimited growth—at least, in theory. But as you move forward, at some point you may find yourself hitting a plateau—a threshold you can’t seem to pass. From all accounts, you’re doing all the right things, but still, your firm can’t seem to grow beyond a certain point. If that scenario describes you, it may be time for you to do some soul searching for any unconscious beliefs that may be hindering you.

Unconscious whaa?…

Unconscious beliefs. We all have them. Sometimes they help us; more often than not, they hurt us. But in any case, our unconscious beliefs will have a huge impact on the direction of our lives and our success—or failure.


What Are Unconscious Beliefs?

An unconscious belief is something we hold to be true but don’t consciously think about. Usually, it’s something we decided a long time ago, frequently in childhood, that now runs on “autopilot” in the background. When we find ourselves facing a hurdle we can’t seem to jump—or a problem that keeps resurfacing despite many attempts to solve it—quite often it’s an unconscious belief that is driving it. Let’s look at a couple of theoretical examples of how these beliefs can form:

  • As a young boy, Cliff is constantly derided by his father for simple mistakes and is beaten for bringing home “B’s” on his report card. As a result, he has formed an unconscious belief that he will be rejected and punished for anything less than absolute perfection. Now, as an adult, Cliff is driven, tormented, controlling and insatiable. He has achieved success in life, but he is never able to enjoy it because he never feels it is enough.
  • Try as she might, Shelly can’t seem to keep the weight off. She goes on diet after diet, but she has lost and regained the same 40-50 pounds over and over again. What she hasn’t understood is that when she was sexually molested at the age of 10, she formed an unconscious belief that being attractive was dangerous because her molester said she was beautiful. She doesn’t realize it right now, but she keeps putting the weight back on because to her subconscious, being fat and “ugly” is safer than being thin and attractive by modern standards.


In the context of business, our unconscious beliefs often can regulate the level of growth we’re able to achieve. Life coaches often refer to them as “limiting beliefs” because they create self-imposed limits on our success. When we can identify these unconscious or “limiting” beliefs, we can begin taking conscious steps to change our thinking and break through the barrier. We’ll next discuss some common ways these beliefs can affect your law firm, and what you can do to change them.

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