Friday Philosophy: Self Limiting Beliefs

I’d like to introduce a new regular feature in the blog:

Today I want to talk about the thing that most holds us back from success – ourselves.

No, I’m not gonna go all Gala on you (great as she is) and tell you that anything in the entire universe you want, just tell the universe and it’ll serve it right up. Cosmic Room Service, life aint.

However, it IS still true that the thing that most limits you in this life, is you.

I was watching Any Dream Will Do last night (male singers vying for the part of Joseph in the next Andrew Lloyd Webber production in the West End), and realised what a wondrous thing it its to really want something, so much that you go balls-out all-out for it.

How often do we not acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we want something really bad. Because to acknowledge it, might:
– make us bad people (in our minds),
– jinx it,
– open ourselves to hurt or embarrassment or the thing we most fear (which differs for each of us).

How wonderful to want something so much that you expose yourself even to being hurt, in order to achieve it. THAT is being human, and overcoming your fears, even moreso.

Wanting something badly is OK – if you are willing to put the hard work in to achieve it. (Setting aside things which are immoral or unethical in and of themselves).  But I, most often, fail to allow myself to acknowledge what I really want, and therefore, I do not achieve it.

We humans put ourselves in boxes far more captivating (in a bad sense) than any prison made by others. What self-devised dungeon do you keep yourself locked in? In what way do you keep “shooting yourself in the foot” so that success always eludes you, because the game you play in your head impels you?

20 years ago I started studying Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Therapy, and they taught me a lot about how I myself work, as well as how others work and interrelate. Life scripts, games, injunctions…it all made so much sense.

TA identifies twelve key injunctions which people commonly build into their scripts. These are injunctions in the sense of being powerful “I can’t/mustn’t …” messages that embed into a child’s belief and life-script:* Don’t be (don’t exist)
* Don’t be who you are
* Don’t be a child
* Don’t grow up
* Don’t make it in your life
* Don’t do anything!
* Don’t be important
* Don’t belong
* Don’t be close
* Don’t be well (don’t be sane!)
* Don’t think
* Don’t feel.

 In addition there is the so-called episcript:
“You should (or deserve to) have this happen in your life, so it doesn’t have to happen to me.” (Magical thinking on the part of the parent/s)
Against these, a child is often told other things he or she must do. There is debate as to whether there are five or six of these ‘drivers’:

* Please (me/others)!
* Be perfect!
* Be Strong!
* Try Hard!
* Hurry Up!
* Be Careful! (is in dispute)

Thus in creating his script, a child will often attempt to juggle these, example: “It’s okay for me to go on living (ignore don’t exist) so long as I try hard”.
It was insightful and freeing, and I wished I’d kept up with the TA counselling sessions because I’d probably be farther down the path of my evolution if I had.

Question: which of the above injunctions and drivers resonate with you? It’s worth spending some time on this.

I italicised some of the ones most powerful for me. If I am a people pleaser, and think that I should not be important…how will I ever allow myself to be successful? If even opening up a Facebook page or a Formspring for my blog terrifies me, because it means I’m an awful person who wants fame, what hope do I have, unless I determine to overcome my script?

Some books that opened my eyes about life and people, that I’d like to recommend:

This book demands a post all on its own, one day. It changed my life. Sections on discipline of the self, love & grace just blew my mind. It opens with the statement:
“Life wasn’t meant to be easy. Only once we accept this fact, can we do something about it”, or words to that effect.

Taking responsibility for our problems is perhaps the most difficult. Only by accepting the fact that we have problems can we solve them. An attitude of ‘It’s not my problem!’ will not take us anywhere.

You are all you’ve got!

I’m not going to say ‘be all you can be’, because I acknowledge there are great stumbling blocks in the way for each of us. But why not be, as Grinspoon says, ‘More Than You Are now’?


What are the books or concepts that you’ve found most enlightening in your path to growth? Recommend to me some of your favourite books or sites, as I have shared with you.

Lifestyle Design – A Life More Fabulous

A buzzword phrase that has been around for a while is “lifestyle design”.


It’s the idea that you can take your own life by the horns, as it were, and create the life you want to live. It’s about eschewing a particular lifestyle you believe is expected of you – such as the 9-5 job, marriage, kids, mortgage, car etc that is so prevalent today – for the life that would actually fulfil you.

As I’ve looked into this phenomenon, and the people who are doing it, I feel a kinship, even though I hold a permanent job. While they are largely entrepeneurs who aren’t on a payroll anywhere, the spirit of wanting to travel the world, and crafting a life whereby this is possible, resonates with me.

My Life

I myself think I have it pretty good working 3 days a week. It’s not part-time though, because it’s shift work. I work three 12 hour days (or nights) a week, which leaves me time to do all sorts of other things I enjoy, like blogging, shopping and banking when no-one else is around, planning my next travel jaunt etc..

Because we get built-in sections of time off (like a 5 day break and an 8 day break within each six week cycle), it’s relatively easy for me to take just a few days of leave, and hey presto! have a 2 or 3 week holiday.

This is the reason I can travel so much. And yet, I don’t have to forego a stable job, or buying a house. For me, it’s a happy medium. It’s not as extreme as these ‘digital nomads’ I list below, but it’s a lifestyle I’m reasonably content with.

However, if you’re NOT content with your current lifestyle, and feel it might be time to make a change, here are some great places to start.

It’s about shattering the template lifestyle, and this post shares the lives of 40 different bloggers who have done just that. While the site tends to focus on youth, let’s face it, anyone can start choosing to live the life they want, regardless of age.

  • I especially liked one blogger who has used his new lifestyle for good. Dwight Turner is a guy from Atlanta who moved to Bangkok and built a grassroots volunteer organization to make a difference to the urban poor and refugees in Thailand. His blog In Search of Sanuk (sanuk means”fun” in Thai) challenges readers to create a lifestyle of fun and giving, and ignite change in your own communities.

  • Cody McKibben who is one of the authors of the Untemplater Manifesto, has a great blog himself, Thrilling Heroics. When asked what lifestyle design meant to him, he said:

LD is “creating the ideal life that I want to live. It means identifying my dreams and goals, and laying out a plan to turn that vision into a reality. My own, unique, rebellious version of the ‘American’ dream”.

In one blog post, he discusses how to reach your dreams with lifestyle design, and he has a great resources page if you want to explore further.

  • There’s Rockstar Lifestyle Design. Greg is a real life rock star who lives on his own terms and enjoys every minute of it. His passion goes beyond music and business as he focuses on helping people find innovative ways to create their own rock star lifestyle by living on their own terms.

“My name is Christine Gilbert and in July 2008 I took the leap from being a manager in a large Fortune 500 Company to being a freelance writer–traveling and working remotely from anywhere. Some people call it being a digital nomad, location independent, vagabonding, or even flashpacking. All I know is that I live where I want, earn a modest living as a freelance writer and travel when the mood strikes– all thanks to a good wifi connection and strong coffee. In July 2008, I sold all of my belongs, and began my full time traveling adventure. So far I’ve traveled around 13 countries and over 20 cities.”

She has a terrific post 30 Ways in 30 Days to Redesign Your Life and Travel The World. This is tremendously inspiring, and full of practical tips too. I defy you to read it and not wonder, “what if?”

  •  Of course there is our own beloved Gala Darling, who left the corporate world at 23 and has become a full-time blogger, international nomad and playgirl. 

She talks about her own humble beginnings in this post answering a reader’s plaintive cry – I don’t know what to do with my life!

So there are a heap of links for you to peruse, and life change challenges for you to consider.

Of course, YOUR ideal lifestyle might not actually be to travel. But anyone can take some of the principles these guys and girls espouse and live by, to craft your own ideal life.

I just wanted to put it out there, that there are different options for your life. 

Take five minutes just now to think about how you’d LIKE your life to be, and think of one little step you could take to get closer to that dream, however vague and nebulous it may now seem.

Here’s to “A Life More Fabulous!”

Song of the Day: Design for Life – Manic Street Preachers.