The fine art of navel-gazing

Hi everyone

In ‘Fleas in a jar’, I wrote about the limits people place on themselves and how this affects their ability to achieve what they want in their lives. These limits might be both real and imagined but can seriously stunt ambition and prevent people achieving their goals.

So how do you uncover what limits you have placed on yourself? Well, this is where the fine art of navel-gazing can be helpful. Navel-gazing is a useful tool if used for short periods of time. Too much staring at one’s own navel can lead to a sore neck! But if you want to discover the origin of your beliefs about your abilities, some self-analysis will be required.

Use with care please! Cast your mind back over your life and see what things you were rewarded for while growing up. The truth is, at a basic level, we persevere with behaviour that was rewarded and discontinue behaviour that was not rewarded or …perhaps even punished. This works to an extreme level with children who receive very little attention while growing up.

If a child doesn’t receive the nurturing and validation they need to blossom and develop strong self-esteem, any type of behaviour that gets attention will be reinforced and repeated. Two examples from the celebrity world I can think of are Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. Both actors mentioned using comedy to get love and attention from their mothers who might not have been as present as they needed them to be.

Obviously this is a simplistic analysis of the dynamics of their relationships with their mothers and not the whole story. It does however highlight the fact that we keep doing what gets rewarded even if the behaviour doesn’t always serve us in the long term. It might help to think about the kinds of messages you received throughout your life and what these messages told you about yourself and your abilities.

How did they help shape who you are and what you think you are capable of or not?

Some of the behaviours are positive and help you achieve your goals and some not so much! Most importantly, think about those beliefs that hold you back in some way. Where did these come from? Are they true or not? Many of the clients I work with have a negative script running in their heads that’s a bit like watching re-runs of movies…not very good ones in fact!

Change the script, interrupt the patterns and challenge your own thinking about yourself. When you keep running the same dialogue about yourself in your head it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, more than you realise. If you have done this your whole life….it’s going to be difficult to shift but it can be done. It requires perseverance and an awareness of the things you say about yourself on a regular basis.

Take care and be kind to each other


Share your thoughts?