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.