What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are those thoughts, sometimes conscious, sometimes not, that keep us from doing the things we need to do to reach our goals.  For example, when I was growing up I wanted to be an astronaut.  That was at the beginning of the manned space program and whenever I would mention that I wanted to be an astronaut I would hear someone say – girls can’t be astronauts.  That is a limiting belief.  It kept me from trying to become an astronaut.

Not all limiting beliefs come directly from an outside source.  There was a time when I also wanted to become a doctor.  I knew that I had to take physics and calculus in order to go to medical school.  I didn’t believe that I could do well in those subjects in spite of the fact I was a straight A student.  There was no logical reason to assume I couldn’t pass those classes but my belief that I couldn’t kept me from actually trying.

History is full of limiting beliefs.  The world is flat. That belief kept people close to home so that they didn’t fall off the edge. A limiting belief is anything that keeps you stuck right where you are.

The good news — they are just beliefs, not facts.  We can challenge our limiting beliefs.  Tapping is a great way to do that.  Believing that I can’t pass physics is a belief. Deciding that I don’t want to put in the work that physics would require is a choice.  Being in a position of choice is “where it’s at” if you ask me.

Contentment Is A Verb

Contentment is a hot topic in many venues and disciplines. References to contentment can be found in virtually every religion, social group, culture, and philosophy. The word contentment can even be found in economics and psychology. Most of the references I have found seem to refer to contentment as a destination or objective.  While that may be an accurate usage of the word I believe that it lacks the depth and dynamic that is possible when used another way.  It would be more accurate, in my view, if contentment was a verb.  Verbs indicate action.  Contentment is really a process, not a destination.  In that way it defies our typical grammar structure.

Contentment doesn’t mean not wanting, not achieving, or not trying.  You can have contentment while trying to reach goals.  You probably must have contentment to really accomplish anything. My definition of contentment would read like this: the struggle of knowing that all that there ever could be is not enough and all that exists right now is abundant.

Here are some other definitions.

  • from WordNet 1.6 1997 Princeton University: happiness with one’s situation in life
  • from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1996: contained within limit; hence having the desires limited by that which one has, not disposed to repine or grumble; satisfied

At the website www.pausetoponder.org they suggest that we are trained to be dissatisfied. Our economic structure thrives on discontent. Contentment in the Western mind is having enough so that you are happy, can sit back, relax, and have no care in the world.  This can never be achieved.  According to Paster Gerry (Pastor Gerry is Gerald Whetstone, Ordained Elder and teacher in the Church of the Nazarene), in A Pause to Ponder God’s Word there are several actions one can take to find contentment.  Note that I said ACTIONS.

  1. Always rejoice in the Lord
  2. Don’t be anxious, pray
  3. Think on Holy Godly things
  4. Practice Holy living
  5. Always remember that with Christ there is nothing that we cannot handle
  6. Be a vital active member of a community of believers

The Jewish concept of Shabbat is also related to contentment.  Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg defined Shabbat as resting in the eternity of this day when we do not try to change or control our reality.  We are not pushing anything away or longing for anything to be different. Shabbat is completion, acceptance, realization, and fulfillment – all of the qualities that we cultivate when we rest our attention in the present moment.

In my dynamic model you “contentment” (the verb) in each time of prayer, meditation, or practice of Tai Chi.  The more one practices the longer you are able to experience the expanding state of contentment.

Graciousness – A Lost Art?

Does anyone value graciousness anymore?  Can you define it?  Merriam-Webster offers several different definitions including Godly, kind, graceful, and merciful.  The ones that interested me most were marked by tact and delicacy and characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding.

Lifestyle Lounge offers some lessons on graciousness. They suggest that graciousness is about how you make the other people around you feel.  Here are some of their suggestions.

  1. Take a compliment with a smile
  2. Small acts of understanding lead to greater acts of graciousness
  3. Do not fake
  4. Be forward with your help. Don’t want for anyone to ask you for it.

Consider these 10 Characteristics of a Gracious Person from www.godhungry.org.

  1. A gracious person is slow to take credit and quick to lavish praise
  2. A gracious person never seeks to embarrass another
  3. A gracious person is always thanking others
  4. A gracious person doesn’t monopolize the conversation
  5. A gracious person doesn’t try to play “one up-manship”
  6. A gracious person pays attention to people
  7. A gracious person desires to say what is appropriate
  8. A gracious person looks out for the comfort of others
  9. A gracious person understands that she is not indispensable
  10. A gracious person constantly points out the good that he sees

The question that pops into my mind is “Where has this quality gone and how do we get it back?”  I actually know a few people I would describe as gracious. While it may come naturally to them now, I suspect they had role models who exemplified graciousness and that it was also specifically taught and rewarded. I see examples in our current culture which promote competing values that make graciousness more difficult.

What is the consequence associated with the absence of graciousness?  Francis Bacon said, “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.” Gracious individuals attract others to them.  The absence of graciousness would lead to separation and isolation.  Graciousness invites cooperation and compromise. The absence of graciousness leads to argument, division, and conflict.

I suspect that the lack of graciousness is cultivated by fear and anxiety. We, as a society, are so worried about making sure we get “our share” or that we “won’t have enough” that we cannot even see what is happening. What are you modeling for your children? Do your children see you thanking others, even for the small things?  Do they hear you thanking them?  How often do you embarrass your children?  When your children talk, do you give them your undivided attention or do you use it as a time to play on your phone or multitask?  Do you focus on your blessings and all the good things that are all around you or do you focus on problems?

I am really not advocating a society in which we ignore problems, fail to correct errors, or overlook deficits. I do believe that if we are engaging in activities with graciousness as a characteristic of who we are, it can have a positive effect.  Remember, graciousness is the use of tact and awareness of other people’s feelings. It suggests that their feelings are at least as important, if not more important, than our own.

I am concerned that graciousness is becoming a lost art. I’m as guilty as anyone else. I plan to work harder to re-introduce graciousness back into my life.  Are you?

X + Y = Z……..or does it?

That seems like a pretty straight forward algebraic equation. We can plug in two numbers and calculate the third one. Another interesting aspect of such an equation is that there are limitless possibilities for Z.  All you have to do is change either X or Y or both.

A while back I read a book called Jump Ship by Josh Shipp. He uses this equation to illustrate a method for moving toward achieving your dream job.  In his formula X is your present, Y is your past, and Z is your future.  I was quite intrigued.  I would like to rearrange these components based on time.  My formula would be Y + X = Z.  With the change in order we could read this as: take your past, add your present to it, and you get your future.  Why is this change of order important to me? Because you can’t change your past.  You are stuck with it.  BUT – it doesn’t dictate your future.  You still have X, your present, that you can use to either overcome or enhance whatever is in your Y.  Sure mathematically the order doesn’t matter, but in the context of understanding your life it might.

Many people go to therapy and assert that they CAN’T do certain things because of their past or because their past means that they ARE a certain way.  I’ve never believed that. Now I have a way to illustrate why.  Mathematically speaking, assume you have a past with a numerical value of 2.  I gave it a low number because you may have lived in poverty, had a mean stepmother, or grew up with prejudice.  Your desire is to have a future that is a 10.  Perhaps for you a 10 would include financial abundance, great relationships, and good health care.  We can plug it into the equation and solve for X.  In this case,  X=8.  That might mean a lot of work to make your present an 8, but at least you know what it would take and can make a decision about whether or not you are willing to work that hard.  Just because you started out at Z doesn’t mean you have to end up there.

Although scary, the reverse is also true. Perhaps you had a wonderful past and assign it the value 8.  Like most people, you want your future to be a 10, but are putting in -2 in your present. You are just floating along without achieving anything, using drugs, or hanging out with people who are “takers.”  Where are you heading for the future?  Not a 10; you are on track for a 6.

The main point is that your past does not decide your future.  It is your present that decides where you are going.  Not 5 minutes ago. Not 5 hours ago.  Not 5 years ago.  The decisions you make in THIS moment.  No……Wait…….This moment…..Each and every moment are the ones that determine your future.

Tapping Video: Good Things Are For Everyone

Verse 8 of the Tao Te Ching begins this way :

The best way to live is to be like water

For water benefits all things and goes against none of them

It provides for all people and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go

In this way it is just like Tao

(from Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition by Lao Tzu with translation and commentary by Jonathan Star)

This tapping was inspired by that verse.  I interpret this to mean that good things are to be shared by everyone, from the highest to the most lowly.  Gulp! That means that good things are even for people I don’t like.  I have had to tap on that one more than once, and truthfully have a long way to go. This video is to get you started with this difficult life practice.

Book Review – Breaking Free

I’m not sure what I thought Breaking Free by Chet Vosloo was going to be about.  It was on my Kindle and I was bored and needed something to read so I opened it up.  At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance.  It seemed to be a guy hanging out in bars, sleeping around, and generally sailing aimlessly though life. Then, it seemed to be an adventure story. He started traveling to remote places and bicycling across continents and getting altitude sickness while climbing a mountain.

Then came the spiritual and psychological stories. The main character experienced significant anxiety issues and had physical consequences from that anxiety. The book then follows his quite interesting and unique journey to “Break Free” from his limiting beliefs while living in Asia, an ashram, and in an entourage following a guru.

There were several things that really captured my interest.  First was the author’s description of monkey mind, that distinctly annoying thing that happens when one first attempts to meditate and control one’s thoughts. The weekend meditation workshops that I participated in were some of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally draining activities I have every chosen to attend. When I first became aware that I couldn’t purposefully harness my thoughts for more than a few seconds at a time it was quite an eye opener.  Even more shocking was the “no way, no how” reaction that my brain expressed when I made the attempt.

Second, the author did a fantastic job describing the physical manifestations of emotional dis-ease.  The physical problems are real, but the origin isn’t necessarily in the body. This is something I experience personally and have seen in my professional practice for decades.  This is proof again that the body, mind, and spirit and completely and inextricably intertwined.

If you enjoy reading about intercontinental adventures, this book is for you. If you benefit from reading self-help books, this book is for you.  If you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or low self-esteem, this book is for you. If you need an entertaining reminder of the importance of self-control, spiritual development, and the connectedness of the universe, this book is for you.

Serving Others – Tapping Inspired by the Tao Te Ching

Does serving others seem like a good idea, but when it is time to actually do it you feel resistance?  The following tapping exercise is designed to help you begin to address any resistance you might feel.

Say these words while tapping on the karate chop point: When I think about serving others I get a little uncomfortable. The word “serve” really sticks in my throat.  I think of slavery, oppression, and ownership. I sometimes enjoy doing things for other people, but a resist if I feel I must.  I am choosing to tap now for more clarity about my resistance.  I am choosing to learn more about my motivations.  I am choosing to love and accept myself on this journey.

Eyebrow…The importance of serving others is something I’ve grown up with

Side of Eye…But I’ve also grown up with the concept of being used by others.

Under the Eye…That gets a little muddy in my head sometimes.

Under the Nose…I can’t even say that my motives are always altruistic when I am doing things for other people.

Chin…If I want them to feel gratitude am I really serving?

Collarbone…I don’t know.

Under the Arm…If I want them to remember what I’ve done for them am I really serving?

Top of Head…I don’t know.

Eyebrow…The motive seems to be more important that the action in this one.

Side of Eye…If that is the case, I have a long way to go.

Under the Eye…My behavior is much more in line with service than is my attitude.

Under the Nose…I do care about other people.

Chin…I’m not completely narcissistic and selfish.

Collarbone…I get pleasure from helping others.

Under the Arm…But if I’m getting pleasure from it am I really serving?

Top of Head…Do I have to be miserable to serve?

Eyebrow…Do I have to suffer to serve?

Side of Eye…Many of the great “servants” that I’ve been told about

Under the Eye…Had lots of bad things happen to them.

Under the Nose…I don’t really want that.

Chin…I don’t think this is something that I’m going to get the answer to.

Collarbone…I think this is one of those things where it is the journey that is important.

Under the Arm…I usually hate those.

Top of Head…I’d like some more guidelines please.

Eyebrow…How much service is enough?

Side of Eye…Can two acts of service balance out an afternoon of self-indulgence?

Under the Eye…I’m not totally serious about that, but I’m not totally kidding either.

Under the Nose…I want to get a little bit more comfortable with the idea.

Chin…I’d like to recognize more opportunities for service.

Collarbone…I’d like to think of others more often than I do now.

Under the Arm…I guess that is progress.

Top of Head…I choose to remain open to more clarity and understanding about serving others.

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Notice how you feel.  Were there questions that popped into your mind?  Were there moments of clarity?  Write them down.  They could be inspiration for more tapping later.

Book Review – Mind Over Medicine

I had two thoughts when I first read Mind Over Medicine: Proof That You Can Heal  Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.  My first thought – “I really like this”.  My second thought – “This is a lot of work.”

I waited a while after finishing this book before event attempting to write a review.  There is a lot of information in this book.  Some of it, quite frankly, really annoyed me.  This wasn’t because I think Dr. Rankin is wrong, but because I didn’t want to hear it.

The beginning of the book is about the placebo and nocebo theories.  I understand what she was trying to communicate and I think the inclusion of this information adds credibility to what came later in the book. There is a negative connotation associated with the word placebo in the medical facilities in which I have worked. Therefore, each time she mentioned any CAM treatments and labeled the effect as placebo, I felt my energy shift and I was aware of strong defensiveness. Again, not necessarily a bad thing – but quite uncomfortable.

The other sections of the book in which she gets into the prescription for healing were wonderful and helped to restore my energy. Warning: if you want to get the most out of this book you have to really do the exercises, and they are not easy. You will learn some things about yourself that might just blow your mind.

For me, this won’t be a read it and you are done type of book. I expect to go back and read it several more times.  I highly recommend it to you too.