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What every Successful Person knows about Self Limiting Beliefs

Think big and dare to fail - Norman Vaughan

When you consider your goals and aspirations for the coming year, do you make your vision bright and bold or are you reigned in by fears and self limiting beliefs?

Do you have a ‘big idea’ that will never see the light of day because you either think it is unachievable or that you do not have the inner resources to achieve it?

A poetry recital caught my ear on the radio recently. It was by urban poet, Mr Gee. It reminded me how many people have dreams and goals they have boxed up and left on a shelf somewhere.

From the poem ‘Our Music’ by Mr Gee

….so, pity the song that’s unsung,
Too scared to venture past the lungs,
Whose acoustics know no audience,
Whose plectrum knows no strum,

Pity the voice that’s unheard,
An eternal stranger to the world,
Forever held back by pleasant pauses,
Who act as a jailer to its words,

Pity the thought never travelled,
Or met with ridicule & challenge,
Embracing panoramic camera lenses,
To capture views from different angles,

Pity the symphony unwritten,
Never to be relished by the living,
The bridges never built,
The olive branches never given,

So yes, our music may be just
A simple combination of notes,
It’s also a simple combination of fear,
A simple combination of hope.

Mr Gee’s poem makes a point about self limiting beliefs through talented and inspired use of metaphor.

The ideas of ‘the unsung song, the unheard voice, the thought never travelled and the unwritten symphony’ speak directly to our right hemispheres, that older, wiser, silent part of the human brain which uses imagery, instinct, feelings and concepts to really understand.

Music and art also communicate on this level. So do therapeutic stories, connecting very intimately with our right hemisphere and creating those ‘light bulb moments’ of insight when we truly ‘get’ the point. Mr Gee’s poem reminds me of Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, conditioned response and learned helplessness.

He erected a glass wall between a group of dogs and their food and rang a bell to which they were trained to respond. They ran for the food, but hit the wall.

This continued for several days until Pavlov removed the wall and rang the bell again. The dogs did not move. They had simply given up trying to get the food.

Did you give up trying?

Many people give up. They are incubating self limiting beliefs. They stop knocking at doors or seeking out opportunities because they believe they are unachievable and fear what they see as inevitable failure.

When I was working in a hostel for the homeless many years ago, I began integrating  metaphor, poetry, story and visualisation into my professional work. The results amazed me.

One concept made an immediate impact on a young resident of the hostel . She felt it spoke to her personally and made a decision to make real changes in her life as a result.

It’s a cartoon by Edward Monkton called ‘The butterfly of freedom’ and shows an image of a butterfly escaping from a box where all the other butterflies have chosen to stay, even though the box is open. The concept is more difficult to ‘get’ without the image. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

Now we know why.

In our troubled times, Edward Monkton’s simple cartoon has wider implications, but concepts, stories and metaphor should never be explained……

‘Why do you fly outside the box?’

‘I fly outside the box, because I can.’

‘But we KNOW the box. We are SAFE inside the box.’

‘That, my friend, is why I leave it. Because you may be SAFE, but I am FREE.’

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.