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.

Life After 40

I’ve always been a late bloomer. (And an under-achiever, but that’s fodder for another post).

At school, I was one of the shortest in my class. And the flattest. (Oh, how the nickname “pancakes” was like a stake through my heart!). As a teenager, I still looked like a tweener. It was NOT a good thing to look younger than you are, back in high-school.

My first boyfriend was at the age of 20 – in 3rd year UNI, fer pete’s sake. It was only with the second boyfriend, at age 26 or so that I passed that other important “ahem” milestone. Yes, I’m slow in every way.

I did get to India 4 times in my 20’s which was pretty good, but then I let it go 10 years before travelling again. Smoked my first joint at 30. Became a regular in bars and had my first one night stand around then too. Took my first E at 32. Dated backpackers years younger than me. Everything about a decade later than most people.

By my mid-thirties, I didn’t think I was ever going to get married. And then, I did – at age 40. And not just any old wedding. Oh no – being the festival fiends that we are, my other half and I got married on stage at the Big Day Out (the biggest rock festival in Australia). In front of hundreds of people. In purple PVC – well, that was just me. We were rock royalty for a day.

I did my first modelling at 40 years of age too. Started travelling several places every year. Joined the alternative and gothic community and started wearing way more creative and theatrical clothing and make-up, dyed my hair blue (see below) and wore plastic extensions and brightly coloured fake-hair dreads. Became Fashion Editor of Fiend magazine. Got a highly paid secure job that finances my many travels. Studied millinery for 2 years at TAFE.

The upshot of all this? So much that I wanted in life (and more) came to me much later than expected. But come to me it did. And so much more is ahead of me.

We put artificial “use-by” dates on things, on life events. So what if you’re 40 and never been married? Have never travelled overseas? Never worn platform boots? Never started a blog? So what?

I’ve learned there are very few hard and fast rules in life, except the ones in our heads. OK, so I’m never gonna be a cover girl on Seventeen magazine. But I can jaunt around the world, wear “out there” pvc outfits, go clubbing til 6am, hang out with people from way different cultures and age groups than me, learn new languages and skills.

And strangely, it seems to be a kind of mission now. When D and I go out, we represent the new couples who don’t have to stop living just because they’re married, (moving to the burbs, having dinner parties and eschewing going out etc). When I dress fashionably or extravagantly and young things are shocked that I’m 45, I plant the seed in their minds that there is life after 40.

In my blog too, I want to show that an exciting life is possible even if you’re not 20 anymore. What are the things that you think you can’t do, held back by time, or age, or circumstance?

For some of us, the best parts of our life come late. We may blossom far behind the other flowers, but the blossoms are no less sweet.