Firstly a belief is not necessarily something you are aware of. Often it is only when you come into a situation which directly confronts you that you realise that you have certain beliefs about something. A lot of research has been undertaken regarding people's innate prejudices for example, the results of which often suprise the participants who had no idea of their innate beliefs and in fact would have argued that they didn't hold them until presented with the 'test' situation. Beliefs are then strong convictions which rarely surface into the conscious mind but have a very particular influence on how we behave and how we emotionally react.
Most of our beliefs have been absorbed unconsciously through our cultural, religious, social, economic, and family values which we have been immersed in since birth. It may be argued that even prior to birth we have been subjected to these influences. I also believe we have a soul contract and have chosen to be born into such circumstances and bring certain attitudes with us into our new life. However, it happens, it certainly happens. We do not process everything consciously and are greatly affected by our subconscious minds.
Limiting beliefs can therefore be quite pernicious. They act in such subtle ways that we have no idea we are acting on them. They build up over time without our conscious agreement and work slowly and quietly in the background. Often they have formed from negative things that others have said about us or to us.
Somewhere inside something shuts down and we begin to believe that we are not good enough, can never get it right etc. etc. The list is endless. You may well recognise these two examples but they take on many different forms apart from the obvious and gradually seep out into our lives through our reactive behaviours.
If these beliefs remain unconscious they can seriously undermine our sense of self and often lead to depression. Limiting beliefs are also the foundation for repeated outcomes no matter what tactics and methods we use in a situation. Trying to do something differently doesn't necessarily achieve any more than any other attempt because our internal beliefs about our in/ability to achieve remain the same.
It is for this reason that it is a very good idea to attempt to trace beliefs back to their origins and to question the motives that have built up around them. A very simple one is the fear of 'power'. Perhaps you were bullied at some time in your life and as a result felt that power is always a bad thing and that you never want to intimidate anyone ever! This may make you passive and willing to be used as a door mat. An inability to express anger may result. Anger when repressed becomes resentment and leads not only to dissatisfaction with life but eats away at the self creating further negative energy. Finding ways of learning to be self assertive can help alleviate this. It is about reclaiming your power without manipulating others.
Whatever the limiting belief you may have become aware of in your life, it is always empowering to face it and challenge its origins. By releasing these 'shackles' we suddenly find we have more energy and, even better, our life starts to move forward in much more positive ways.