Self-limiting thoughts

21 Mar
Opus 601

Opus 601

What’s a self-limiting thought?

Why do some people tell themselves that they can’t do something, even when they haven’t tried? Lack of self-confidence? Habit picked up in childhood? Self-preservation technique to stop them failing at anything?

A friend on Facebook said this morning that she couldn’t knit because she was unteachable. Lots of people who see me knitting tell me that they couldn’t do it. They give various reasons: “I haven’t the patience”, “I haven’t got time”, “I’m not creative enough”. But no-one has said to me “I tried that and didn’t enjoy it so I stopped”, which is probably closer to the truth. Knitting, like home birth and washable nappies, isn’t for everyone so why do people feel they have to give an excuse why they don’t do it?

While we’re on the subject of society’s view of knitting, I need to mention my MIL and GMIL. The former doesn’t knit or crochet. I taught her to crochet once but she didn’t enjoy it so we both called it a day and moved on. I mentioned her in a recent post because she doesn’t understand why I have several projects on the go at once rather than just getting on and finishing one. She is a gardener so I would have expected her to understand the concept of a work in progress.

And then there’s GMIL who is amazed when I turn up after a long car journey and get my knitting out. She expects me to “sit and relax” but she doesn’t understand that this is how I relax. Sitting doing nothing would not be relaxing. I would just be thinking of all the things I’m not doing at the moment. She knits for charity projects and seems to do it as a good work rather than for fun.

We all do it

So, getting back to self-limiting beliefs, this is a national problem, I think. Children say “I’m no good at this” and that slowly becomes the truth because they don’t do it any more. I think that allowing this attitude to go unchallenged allows a cycle to continue. It starts with a child not answering the questions of a strange adult and the mum says “She’s a bit shy”. The next time it happens and mum says the same thing, the child starts to understand the word and links it with that uncomfortable feeling. Then, she slowly starts to say it herself: “I’m a bit shy” and when she has explained that, people make allowances for her and don’t expect her to talk in front of others. Then, when she grows up she is one of the thousands of people in this country who are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Her life is lived in fear of meeting people, she hates social situations, so has few friends, and nothing anyone says can change her now.

And then there’s physical confidence. When children play at the park or walk along walls and mum says: “Careful, you’re going to fall”, the child believes her. He is going to fall. So, his body goes through the motions and he waits to fall. Instead of believing in his body’s ability to beat this obstacle, he waits to fail. And then when he does, this proves his mum right so next time she says it, it will have an even more powerful effect. Soon she doesn’t need to say it, because he says it in his head: “I’m going to fall”. When he sees the big slide, he stays off it because he doesn’t want to fall off something so high. And when his grows up he will also have a life half-lived, with no confidence in himself to tackle obstacles, but a solid belief that he will fail.

So what can we do about it?

I’m no expert but it seems to be that looking at our own self-limiting beliefs is a good place to start.

Happy knitting 🙂

Advertisements

One Response to “Self-limiting thoughts”

  1. dalesgirl March 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Nicely said

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: