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The Sources Of Limiting Beliefs

September 9, 2013

 

External Sources

 

From a very early age we are all constantly bombarded with messages, either directly or by implication, that we are flawed, inadequate, unlovable, and just generally not enough: not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough. Think of every situation in which you have ever felt the sting of disapproval, the pain of ridicule, the bite of shame or embarrassment, and you will just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. Whether someone explicitly tells you “You’re stupid!”, or just looks at you with a facial expression that says “You should have known better”, or even just actively ignores you, your brain easily draws the conclusion that this person views you as inferior. Enough data points make a worldview, and given that disapproval is the stock and trade of behavior modification at all levels of our society, it is easy for a young, impressionable brain to draw the conclusion that “thousands of people can’t be wrong — I must be an ignoramus”. The fact is, for most of us, it actually takes work to create and sustain a HEALTHY, REALISTIC self concept in the face of this apparent societal consensus that we all suck. The truth is, we are all animals, living extensions of the natural world, and just like no squirrel is “better” than any other squirrel, and no oak tree is “better” than any other oak tree, no human being is “better” than any other. However, we can have beliefs that are not consistent with reality, including the belief in our own inferiority. See if you can just sit with this idea for a moment.

 

Internal Sources

 

Spiritually speaking, we are all branches of the same tree, but we are also distinct individuals. We have a physical body that is defined by a physical boundary known as skin, and we have a psychological identity that is demarcated by a boundary known as ego. The purpose of both “membranes” is the same: to define a distinction between “self” and “not-self”, allowing for existence and action as an independent being. When the physical skin is cut, bruised, and punctured, it heals itself by constructing scar tissue, and the body learns to recoil from the source of the harm. All of the affronts to our psychological self that we encounter from a very early age, every instance of “make-wrong” we are afflicted by, results in the buildup of egoic defenses. Though egoic defense mechanisms vary widely in appearance, they all serve the same basic function: making things not be our fault. However, ANY idea that ANYTHING is ANYBODY’S “fault” is just a manifestation of make-wrong, an ineffectual judgment about what should or should not be the case. Creating blame of any kind and taking action to improve things are two separate, and in fact, mutually exclusive activities. Chew on that for a bit, if you will.

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