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"Why can't I change?" Two common aspects that prevent us changing.

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Do you sometimes set goals, or go after something but find it hard to make changes? I find there are two common aspects we come up against that make it hard for us to change, even when we want to. These are the role of limiting beliefs and the wrong kind of motivation.

Limiting beliefs

You may have heard of ‘limiting beliefs’ - the thoughts about ourselves that hold us back. These beliefs are cemented over time, often picked up early in childhood, and become a long-ingrained script that we live by - often being the things that limit us in some way. Our individual experiences, choices and things we’re exposed to, create a personalised lens through which we view the world - supporting our limiting beliefs by showing us the evidence that supports them. This lens filters data and information that strengthens our thoughts about ourselves. It becomes a vicious cycle.

For example, if you find yourself saying ‘I have to be busy to demonstrate my worth’, this becomes a rule you set for yourself. Following this rule (or script) can lead you to be very productive, but you also risk burnout, fail to relax or lack fulfilment in life due to the belief that you need to be ‘seen’ to always be on the go. This is a belief that may hold you back from embracing the here and now, or living in the present moment.

Likewise, ‘I am selfish if I put myself first.’ This plays out positively by being a good friend and family member who is always there for others. On the flip side, again, this could result in a lack of self-care, resentment of others and striving to serve others first and foremost.

Frequently we don’t question these beliefs until such a time we’re made aware of them - like in during coaching. The limiting belief prevents us changing because we don’t know they exist or don’t understand that we can choose a different script for ourselves. Coaching creates an intervention to challenge those beliefs and enables you to develop an awareness around them. This helps you realise you have a choice as to how you act on them and this makes change seem possible. You do have a choice!

"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can his future merely by changing his attitude." Oprah Winfrey


Secondly, the wrong kind of motivation gets in the way. Often we know what we want to do, but are not able to do it. Why is that?! We lack real internal motivation for change and put more emphasis on the external factors which we think are motivating us. This could exist in the form that others are doing it so we think we should be, we feel we should want to change, we think we should want the end goal, society says…., we feel guilty….. The list goes on.

The truth is, that external (extrinsic) motivation is often slower, not relevant and leads to self-loathing and exhaustion. If you feel truly connected to a reason to change, you are more likely to carry it out and sustain the new behaviour, attitude or mindset. Internal (intrinsic) motivation is closer aligned with your values, connecting you to what you really want. This means you take responsibility for the goal, and feel passionate when working towards the end result.

Coaching helps you unpick the true source of the motivation. This enables you to feel more confident to make changes, and understand why you could have been struggling to motivate yourself previously. Sometimes we become too focused on external motivation and in turn ‘beat ourselves up’ for not taking action or moving faster towards a goal. When you become aware of your true inner motivations, you will take action to move towards the change you desire.

Does this sound familiar? Do these aspects hold you back from making or creating a change? Are you ready to challenge some of your limiting beliefs, or finding your internal motivation? Get in touch, let's start today.


Gemma Brown is a certified coach who works with successful women, 1-2-1 and in groups, to identify their strengths and build confidence which enables them to have the self-belief to fearlessly bring their whole being into all areas of life. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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