Allegedly Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits said – “give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Certainly neuro-scientific evidence, as well my own experience, demonstrates that a lot of beliefs (both enabling and limiting) are laid down in early childhood. As children we interpret the world literally and generalise from each experience. So if a parent laughs at us for our funny singing we may grow up to be a successful comedian or, more likely, to believe we can’t sing.
And so often we tell our story over and over again…. and we believe it. “It’s not my fault that I can’t……” or “other people are so lucky, they didn’t have my upbringing.”
Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours.
There is a lovely line in the film Roger Rabbit where Jessica says “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
But unlike for Jessica, for us it doesn’t have to stay that way.
William James said “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind”. And with each year that passes we understand more and more about the neurology of the brain – how limiting beliefs work and how neuro-plasticity means we can change most of these – pretty easily. Some we can change at will, others may need a little bit of help from a skilled practitioner (e.g. using NLP). Change is however possible.
So our parents, or at least life’s experiences, are to blame for everything…………until the moment we realise they are. After that it is up to us.
How wonderful. How daunting. If someone else isn’t to blame then it means I have nowhere to hide. No excuses.
Ignorance may not be bliss but it can be convenient, comfortable, easy, familiar. And sometimes we have built our entire lives around our ‘limitations’.
William James again: “A great many people think they are thinking when really all they are doing is rearranging their prejudices”.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying you ought to change.
I think we all have the right to be who we are.
What I am saying is that, those of us who are privileged not be engaged in a daily fight for survival and who understand that who we are is a choice; have the responsibility for that choice. As I said, I think we all have the right to be who we are…….and we have the responsibility of managing the behavioural consequences and downsides of who we are.
No one has to be aggressive, bullying, defensive, duplicitous, blaming, dishonest, greedy, placating, compliant, hateful, untrustworthy, demeaning, betraying. Whether in the bedroom or the board room, in a bar or with the kids – we can choose to do things differently.
Wouldn’t it be great if all the leaders in our organisations and countries, as well as parents and partners, got this?
So what stories are you telling yourself? What excuses are you making?
If you do not like something about yourself – change.