Limiting Beliefs – A Barrier To Your Success?
As soon as you awaken to the power you have, you begin to flex the muscles of your courage. Then you can dream bravely: letting go of your limiting beliefs and pushing past your fears. You can start to come up with a truly original dream that germinates in your soul and bears fruit in your life. – Alberto Villoldo
JK Rowling is a talented writer, no doubt about that. She’s entranced hundreds of millions of people around the world with her cleverly constructed stories about the teenage wizard Harry Potter, and the goings-on at Hogwarts School.
And the fact that she could turn her talents into a billion dollar fortune is proof positive that anyone can do the same. If you want to be a writer, JK is the ultimate proof that it’s possible to succeed – when you have the vision, the determination, and the resilience to carry you through the difficult times.
Imagine this single mother, living on welfare, writing in a café to keep warm (so the story goes), experiencing the thrill of her book being accepted by a publisher.
Here’s what she said in an interview with Urbanette magazine: “It took my agent, Christopher, a year to find a publisher. Many of them turned it down. Then finally in August of 1996, Christopher called to let me know that he had an offer from Bloomsbury. I couldn’t believe my ears. After I had hung up, I screamed and jumped into the air…. And the rest as you may guess is history.”
What this story doesn’t reveal is the single-minded determination with which JK pursued her dreams to be a published author. While she was writing the first Harry Potter book, she experienced clinical depression, the death of her mother, a broken marriage and the birth of her daughter.
Her resilience was profound – you only have to read the stories of how she was hounded by the paparazzi to see that – and her determination kept her going. And from humble beginnings she became the first billion dollar author on the planet.
And if she can do it, so can you.
Now, I can almost hear the objections.
- “But she was talented, and I’m not.”
- “I could never do that.”
- “I’m not clever enough.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “I don’t have the experience.”
- “JK Rowling was just a natural. What she did is beyond me.”
- “I don’t have the experience.”
- “I don’t have the skill, the training, or the imagination.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “Who would want to read my work?”
- “I don’t have the time.”
- And so on….
To start with, let’s get straight on to the question of knowledge and experience. As far as I know, nobody was ever born with any experience of writing books, painting, creating music, being a businessman, an entrepreneur, or anything else. Experience is gained.
So when someone tells me they want to be a writer but claims they aren’t writing because they “don’t have the experience” or “they’re not clever enough” or whatever, well, I smell something fishy. I smell a limiting belief at work. And often, those limiting beliefs are hidden out of sight, in your shadow. (Don’t know what that is? Find out here.)
Limiting Beliefs Can Kill Your Dreams
There’s a story about how elephant trainers in India once controlled their huge elephants.
Apparently a baby elephant would be tethered by the leg to a large rock or tree. Of course, at first it tried to pull itself free, but the task was impossible. And it quickly learned the futility of trying to break free. Then, as the elephant grew into a powerful beast, it always remembered the feeling of the tether which it had learned as a baby.
In fact, from then on, the feeling of the rope around its leg would always be enough to hold the elephant in place, even if it was tied to a flimsy little stake in the ground.
All because the elephant had learned as a baby that it didn’t have the power to get free – and there was no point in trying.
True or not, this story is a perfect metaphor for how we can be controlled by our own limiting beliefs.
The Immense Power Of Limiting Beliefs
As a child you were born with unlimited potential. Yet from the moment you were born that potential was vulnerable to the influence of those around you.
How many messages like these did you hear as you grew up?
- “No!” Inhibiting your natural instinct to explore the world.
- “Don’t touch that.” Inhibiting your desire to know how things worked, how they felt, and what they offered to you.
- “Stop it!” “Don’t do that!” Squashing your desire to explore and your spirit of adventure.
- “Leave it alone.” Inhibiting your desire to discover or connect.
- “Get away from that.” Inhibiting your desire to explore or grow, or imitate the adults around you.
- “Don’t touch that. Keep your hands to yourself.” Stopping you exploring your senses and finding out about the world around you.
- “You should be ashamed of yourself.” Reducing your self worth and making you feel bad about being who you are.
- “Stop crying. Boys don’t cry.” Inhibiting your vulnerability and forbidding the expression of your grief and sadness.
- “Little girls shouldn’t get angry!” Crushing your experience and understanding of your human nature.
- “Don’t do that, it’s dangerous.” Limiting your adventurous spirit and inducing fear.
- “We don’t like you when you’re angry.” Inhibiting your feelings and teaching you to conform to what was expected of you.
- “Don’t get so big-headed.” Crushing your pride and sense of achievement.
- “Aren’t you a little princess?” Telling you it’s not OK to feel good about yourself or to celebrate your achievements.
- “Pride goes before a fall.” And other such garbage, all telling you that you have no right to rise above the general level of people’s limitations.
- “Children should be see and not heard.” Which speaks for itself really. It sends the message “We think you’re worthless.”
- And so on…..
Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of people, helping them explore the impact of millions of negative childhood messages like these on their later life. These are the messages which make up your shadow. That’s the part of you which you may not even know about, the part which inhibits your achievement and expression of self.
Of course, there were always positive messages in shadow too… but I think the negative ones are far more common for most people. And for some reason – perhaps because a child’s ego is so weak and undeveloped – the negative messages seem to have more power than the positive messages.
Unfortunately, these negative messages have a massive impact – they make you who you are. They shape your destiny. They determine your success or failure in life.
You see, when a child hears these negative messages often enough, she will come to believe something about herself or about the world around her.
And because children tend to see adults as all-powerful, and themselves as powerless, those beliefs will be constricting, limiting, or diminishing. And that’s the start of the limiting beliefs with which we grow up. Eventually these beliefs become the foundation of how we see ourselves as adults.
The difficulty in dealing with them is that they are held deep in the unconscious mind, where we may not be aware of them. Nor are we generally aware of how they control us. That’s why you may not understand how your limiting beliefs are keeping success and achievement out of your reach. However, there is a way to deal with them. To find them, to eliminate them, and to overcome them so you can be truly powerful. This is the method of psychotherapy called shadow work. Read about it here.