7 Step Limiting Beliefs Exercise - Whats in a Label?

Limiting Beliefs Exercise - Example Office MomLooking at our 'labels' is a great way to begin exploring the concept of limiting beliefs with our clients because it's often our labels that get in the way of us making change. This limiting beliefs exercise helps our clients review their labels - and see firsthand how their labels may be holding them back.

What do I mean by labels? Well, they're simply descriptive terms used to describe us and usually have judgements associated with them. For example they can be 'negative' (I'm the Office Bitch or Sleazeball) or more 'positive' (I'm the Office Mom or Geek). We may or may not agree with our labels and they can also be things we feel we've grown out of (I'm a Daydreamer or Scaredy-cat). And perhaps we think they're true (I'm Utterly Reliable or I'm Forgetful). They can also be appearance related - for example one of mine is that I'm a Redhead.

So, here is a Simple Limiting Beliefs Exercise using Labels:

  1. First ask your client what labels apply to them - aim for 10 and hopefully you will get at least 4 or 5 solid labels to work with.
  2. For each label, ask your client if they see the label as positive or negative.
  3. Next ask them where they think the label came from - for example society (eg. media, TV, books and magazines etc) and people (eg. our parents, our peers, teachers etc.). Ask them to be as specific as possible and name a specific person if they can.
  4. Then ask, "Do you agree with the label?"
  5. Explore what advantages and disadvantages each label has. How does the label HELP them and how does it HINDER or LIMIT them? To learn more about label advantages and disadvantages see our article: What's in a Label? And How they Turn into Limiting Beliefs!
    You can give this exercise extra meaning by also asking your client where they think their labels are getting in the way of achieving their goals…
  6. Ask your client which labels they would like to keep and which they would like to 'lose'?
  7. Finally help them come up with an action plan. To do this, explore specific situations where the label comes up and make sure to ask when and who they're with when they behave like the label. Then, what could they do/how could they behave differently to make the label irrelevant or inappropriate?
    Tip: For help with the action planning, you may find following The GROW model helpful.

This limiting beliefs exercise is a great way to raise awareness and get people thinking. And it also has a broader societal impact because once people connect with how they feel about THEIR labels - they'll have more empathy for others.

"Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people." Martina Navratilova

If you liked this article you may also like our 30 page Awesome eBook - 21 1/2 Workshop Games, Exercises and Icebreakers which has a "Labels" exercise to use in a workshop or team-building seminar.

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>


  1. Anonymous

    I appreciate this article. I suffer from depression, yet I'm a very good coach. It's good to get the validation.


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