If there was an Oscar’s for ‘Best Limiting Beliefs in a Supporting Role’ I think I found a good nominee last week.
I was sitting in front of my computer avoiding doing something worthwhile, when I noticed that I had an old familiar feeling, a subtle blend of resignation and hostility. It’s a rather flat feeling that wasn’t very conducive to getting things done.
After a few moments in a sullen slouch I thought it might be worth nailing this feeling, it wasn’t helpful or pleasant.
I tuned into the feeling and asked myself this question
‘When is the first time I can remember this feeling, not the first time it happened … the first time you can remember this feeling’.*
After a short while the image of an eight year old me attempting, unsuccessfully, to defy my mother came to mind. In the memory I’m sitting in a sullen slump, arms crossed losing the argument. It wasn’t a fair fight and I lost.
I was neutralising the memory with IEMT when the limiting belief in question popped into my head:
I’ll never do what I should …
It had quite a charge on it, a strong feeling that this was very true for me. I neutralised the charge on this statement then the ‘bonus’ part of the belief popped into my mind
… and you can’t make me!
That also had quite a charge on it, which I took care of.
You might be wondering by now what exactly is the big deal with:
I’lll never do what I should and you can’t make me!
1. It’s a declaration of civil disobedience from an eight year old. Because I was a ‘good boy’, the disobedience had to go underground. A lot of the energy around the original feeling that started all this had a sullen child air about it.
2. It’s all encompassing (like most declarations) I’ll never do, at all times and places this rule holds true.
3. What I should – what is it I should do? Who says? I don’t remember what it was I should have been doing back then and the original should came from my mum. A should is an expectation or standard, something to be achieved or maintained. Usually they come from outside ourselves (at least initially) Over time I think that many shoulds become internalised and now ‘should’ has come to cover all sorts of things that are necessary for adult life. I ‘should’ do my taxes, drive carefully, do the washing up. All the maintenance tasks that keep the adult show on the road. ‘Should’ now has a much wider remit for me that it did when I was 8.
4. Now I’ve declared that I’m not going to go along with all those shoulds I back it up with a ‘and you can’t make me!’ Now I’ve staked my pride in the war on shouldism.
That’s all understandable for an eight year old trying to exercise a little independence. However I think that statement went underground and has been hard at work working against a lot of the things I want to do. You could say ‘I should loose weight’ if I plug that into the statement I get:
I’ll never loose weight and you can’t make me!
Now I’ve got a fight on my hands, with a part of myself that has been in the underground resistance movement for 40 years. The belief and feeling that went with it were a solution to a problem that happened a long time ago, now it’s well past it’s sell by date.
Once it had surfaced it was easy to take care of. I could have used EFT, NLP, IEMT, TAT or any other weird acronym process. Changing the limiting belief is not to tough, spotting the little buggers is not so easy.
Now the phase: ‘I’ll never do what I should and you can’t make me‘ is just a bunch of words. Since I took care of them I’ve found myself much more willing to get on with things rather than resisting them with a 40 year old sulk!
* Thanks to Andy Austin for passing on this excellent verbal way of tracking back to the originating events.