Limiting OurselvesThis is the last blog for the month of June, and I’m going to build on what happens when things are cross-wired for us. Then, for the month of July, I’ll focus on Freedom—what really creates a sense of freedom, and how we give it away. I’ll offer tips and strategies, and Paul Johnson will share the story of his search for freedom.

Creating Limitations

I recently read a great book entitled, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. He writes beautifully about how we all have upper limits and what creates an upper limit. This fits perfectly with the whole concept of cross-wiring or being at cross purposes with yourself. How often do you find yourself in a struggle or maybe even a battle, with yourself—wanting to do something and not wanting to, foot on the gas and a foot on the brake at the same time.
Dr. Hendricks identified four key beliefs that create upper limits. As I list them notice how the psychological needs come into play with each of them. The beliefs he identified are:

  1. I am fundamentally flawed (there is something wrong with me and I can’t succeed)
  2. If I am successful I will end up alone (leaving behind friends and family)
  3. I will be a burden to others ( my success puts a greater burden on others)
  4. If I shine someone else will feel bad

Looking at these key beliefs you may recognize you have one or more of them operating in your system. Each of these reflects a cross-wiring in that who you are or what you do is cross-wired with something negative.

Limitations Begin Early

Let’s take a closer look at them. Does a baby come into this world feeling or believing, “I am fundamentally flawed?” In my opinion the answer is, “No.” So where would this belief come from? The answer is… from the child’s experiences.

Somewhere along the line the child received the message that who they are, and their actions don’t measure up. This could occur in a dramatic way, such as discovering your parents wanted a boy and you were a girl. If this is the case, the message is, “you are the wrong gender and hence flawed or wrong overall.” Who you are is cross-wired with disappointing your parents, and can generalize into a belief that you always disappoint people and are fundamentally flawed.

This belief can also develop slowly, over a period of time in which you are given the message over and over that you don’t measure up, and never get it right. These small specific experiences gradually coalesce into the belief that you are fundamentally flawed.

The second belief, “If I am successful I will end up alone,” is a perfect example of the Love and Belonging need being cross-wired with the Power need. Having even one early experience where your success ended in a situation where you felt isolated, abandoned or ridiculed can lock this limiting belief in for a long time.

The third belief, “my success will be a burden to others,” is one that really touches my heart. Without realizing it parents can easily get caught in the dynamic that one child’s success, talents or gifts, taxes the whole family. This can occur because of the amount of time and expense it takes to support one child in sports, music or developing a child’s gifts and talents. The end result is a belief that, “my talents cost others and places a burden on them”. As with each of the limiting beliefs, the system copes by backing down and not expanding into the fullness of what is possible.

Lastly, the belief “If I shine someone else will feel bad” is very common, especially if there is a child with special needs or challenges of any sort. I have even had clients who felt this way, because a sibling was younger and not as quick to pick up reading or writing. In an attempt to support the younger child the parents gave a unspoken message to the older child, “don’t shine so brightly.” And if they did shine, it was downplayed so as to not draw attention to the differences between the children. Clearly this is very undermining and confusing in the mind of a child. They feel like they are being punished for being who they are, and excelling.

Overcoming Limitations

Recognizing that all of these limiting beliefs were established or “locked in” a long time ago, and are therefore completely out of date, is helpful. In Prime Potential, people have an opportunity to address the whole identity they have “constructed” around their limiting beliefs in a large systemic framework. Other approaches, such as Byron Katie’s questions of inquiry, are useful in addressing individual beliefs. Please visit her website to obtain her worksheet for the Inquiry Process.