Category: Limiting Beliefs

Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant’s beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant’s debt if he could marry the merchant’s daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning money lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender’s wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant’s garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine you were standing in the merchant’s garden. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.

Think of the consequences if she chooses the logical answers.

What would you recommend the girl do?

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.
— Unknown

:  Sometimes we twist our minds into a knot trying to find a solution and often believing that there really isn’t one that makes sense.  If we can just let go and think of the problem in a different way, the answer might be right there.

Is there a problem you’re trying to solve? Breathe deeply, ask for the answer, then let it go and allow your creativity to take over.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life


Just could this be paradise

right here where you are?

Nirvana within you

not somewhere afar?

Tho’ some would decry it

and say it can’t be

just follow along

if you long to be free.

Your life’s what you make it –

your choices each day

the thoughts that you harbor

and words that you say

determine the status

of your life today.

So if you want more

than you think you have now

watch closely your mindset

and you’ll find out how

Just live in the present.

Think only the best

about yourself first

and then all the rest

of your brothers and sisters –

you’ll find that you’re blest

and really in paradise.

It’s all in your mind.

Whatever you look for

is just what you’ll find.

— Larry Brophy

(Photo by H. Thronson)

Midlife: Are You the Chicken or the Eagle?

Our lives are shaped by the way we perceive ourselves.  Sadly, thAre you the Eagle or the Chicken?ose perceptions are often a long way from the truth but we nonetheless behave and live as if they were true. How many times have you stopped yourself from living your dreams because you “didn’t deserve to”, “weren’t good enough to”, “didn’t have the right background”, “weren’t smart enough” or a myriad of other “good” reasons?

A perfect example of this is a story that comes from American Indian folklore. According to the legend, an Indian brave found an eagle’s egg that had somehow fallen, without breaking, from its nest. Not being able to find the nest, the brave put the egg in a prairie chicken’s nest, where the mother hen hatched it.

When the young eagle took his first steps into the world what he saw were the other prairie chickens.  So naturally he did what they were doing – scratching the ground, running around and pecking here and there looking for grains and husks. Every now and again they would use their wings to fly a few feet above the ground. This was the way he perceived life was meant to be and this was how he lived for most of his days.

The legend continues with how one day an eagle flew over the chickens. The now elderly eagle, still thinking he was a prairie chicken, looked up in awe and admired the bird as it soared through the sky. “What is it?” he asked, astonished.  One of the chickens replied, “That is an eagle, the proudest, strongest and most magnificent of all the birds. But don’t imagine that you could be like that. You are one of us and we are just prairie chickens.”

And so, imprisoned by this belief, the eagle lived and died thinking he was prairie chicken.

Think “impossible” and dreams get discarded, projects get abandoned, and hope for wellness is torpedoed.  But let someone yell the words “It’s possible,” and resources we hadn’t been aware of come rushing in to assist us in our quest.  I believe we are all potentially brilliant and creative-but only if we believe it, only if we have an attitude of positive expectancy toward our ideas, and only if we act on them. – Greg Anderson, “The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness”

Stressed Out by the Way You See Yourself?

You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself– Zig Ziglar

Do you find that something is always getting in the way of you achieving your goals? You do all the right things but you just can’t get to first base, never mind home base! Perhaps it all comes down to the way you see yourself. If you can’t picture yourself succeeding, you won’t get there.

Your logical left brain may be making all the right moves but your vision of yourself is wishy-washy. Your vision or self-image is the way you define yourself, the way you are in the world. It drives everything you do.

Your self image is dictated by your most important beliefs. You may be aware of some of these beliefs but others are hidden under the surface. For example, “I’m too old for this” or “I don’t have the right connections” or “I need an MBA or they won’t think I’m credible.” On and on it goes. If you change these hidden beliefs, you can make huge strides in changing your life because the way you see yourself will change.

Many of these beliefs come from significant emotional events that we went through when we were young. Words that our parents said to us, we took on as our own and we saw ourselves that way. Perhaps you were told “you’re stupid” or “you’ll never amount to anything” or “you’re always doing something dumb.” We connected to these concepts through our conscious, feeling hurt and disappointed. We felt powerless. As adults, we shrug our shoulders and say “This is just the way I am.”

Most people (yes, even the rich and famous) are afflicted with some form of “I’m not good enough.” You will have a hard time being successful in any area of your life in which you feel not good enough.

So how do you change these negative thoughts. There are a number of ways but my favorite is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or “emotional acupuncture.” Start globally with “Even though I don’t feel good enough to — ” Then ask yourself “WHERE am I not good enough?” and “HOW am I not good enough?” Pay attention to where you feel it in your body. Then start tapping. If you’re not familiar with EFT, contact me so that I can help you get started.

So bottom line, if you want to perform in a successful manner, see yourself as being successful. Do whatever you have to in order to get rid of any limiting beliefs that tell you otherwise. Once you have a crystal-clear picture of attaining your goals, when you feel the excitement of success and when you hear those words of praise, then you will be well on the road to goal achievement.

“Take the First Step” by Doug Stevenson

I was in a class led by Doug Stevenson at the 2009 National Speakers Association convention.  His story-telling method was extremely impressive – the stories all but leapt off the stage!  I wanted to share his article here because it is such an appropriate first step to following your passions.

I can remember growing up in Chicago when the year 2000 was a long way into the future. And now, in 2010, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, I’m taking stock of how far I’ve come and what it took to get me here.

As a child watching movies, I dreamed of being an actor in Hollywood. And then one day…I found myself acting on a movie set at Paramount Studios.

After 16 years, when my acting career didn’t work according to plan, I set out for points unknown to find a new place to live and a new direction in life. That journey of discovery led me to Colorado Springs and a career as a residential real estate broker. Real estate led to keynote speaking, which expanded to training, and later included coaching.

As I look back and analyze what I had to do in order to get to where I am today, there are three things that I had to do over and over again.

  1. Decide what you really want – even if it doesn’t make logical sense
  2. Let go of the past in order to step into the future
  3. Take the first step, regardless of how knowledgeable or prepared you are

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you do it? Did you even attempt it? Or did you let other people talk you out of it because it was impractical, illogical or unrealistic? Or did you talk yourself out of it for the same reasons. Perhaps you pursued your dream, (like I pursued my dream of becoming a movie star), and at some point along the way found yourself disillusioned with the results.

I find the life I’m living in the year 2010 is one that I never would have imagined. I have a thriving speaking, training and coaching business. My wife, Deborah, and I work together in the business and get to travel all over the world. Our life together is better than what I had ever dreamed of. But it would never have happened, had I not followed the three steps above.

As many of you know, I’ve taken up running to get in shape. I run three or four times a week with the goal of running several half-marathons each year. In other words, I’m in training. Every time I workout, I chart how many miles I run in my logbook. Runners call it putting miles in the bank. The more miles you put in the bank, the better you’ll do in a race.

Putting miles in the bank is a metaphor for putting life experiences in the bank.

Looking back, I’ve utilized my simple three-step formula every time I wanted to move to the next level of achievement in my life. At every turning point, the decisions I made, letting go and taking the first steps were like putting miles in the bank – my life experience bank. And with each mile, I got stronger.

My first big life decision was to make a serious commitment to becoming an actor. So after one year of college, I let go – dropped out – and got involved in the acting scene in Chicago. The first step I took was to enroll in a Second City improvisation workshop. Someone in that workshop told me about a Method Acting class, so I studied there for 2 ½ years. And someone in that class told me about an audition for a new musical. I auditioned and was cast as Danny Zuko in the world premiere production of GREASE. I then decided to go for the big time in Hollywood, and I let go of the acting scene in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles. Then one step led to another and the rest is history. But it never would have happened had I not decided what I wanted, been willing to let go, and taken the first step.

Thirteen years later, having done everything I could think of to make it as an actor, it just wasn’t happening. I’d had limited success in movies and TV, had some great experiences doing plays and singing in a rock band, but it was clear to me that my acting career wasn’t going to take off. Once again, it was time to decide what I really wanted and to let go of what wasn’t working. At that point, I decided that what I wanted more than anything else was to be happy. And I wanted to be married and have a family. To do that, I felt that I needed to let go of my Hollywood dream of becoming a rich and famous actor. It was time for another first step: to pack my bags and head east.

I believe the hardest thing to do when things aren’t working, is to admit it and let go. When you’ve invested your heart and soul into something that isn’t working, the numbing pain you’re living with seems less frightening that the excruciating pain of letting go and moving on. Having invested 16 years of my life into being an actor, I didn’t want to let go. Being an actor wasn’t just what I did, it was who I was. But I summoned my courage, and just as I’d done when I left my past behind in Chicago for an uncertain future, I make a decision, let go and took the first step into the future.

You cannot move forward in life while holding onto everything from the past. Something’s gotta go. And sometimes, someone’s gotta go. For me that something was Hollywood and an acting career. And that someone was my old identity as an actor.

1. Let go of beliefs that have been proven false:

  • About yourself and who you are
  • About the way life is supposed to work
  • About needing to know how before you begin

2. Let go of people who are holding you back:

  • People that you love that are negative
  • People that want you to stay the same for their sake, not yours
  • People who have a world view that is not in alignment with yours

3. Let go of fear of the unknown. When you step out, you will make it known.

4. Let go of believing you have to do it all by yourself.

Each bold new decision is accompanied by the need to take another first step. In my experience, each first step is almost always accompanied by fear. At the beginning, the fear is huge. But every time you take a step, you put miles in the bank. And with each mile you run, the fear diminishes and you become stronger.

It takes courage to change. Every time you make a change however, you become more courageous. With every mile, every life experience, you get stronger.

You’ve made thousands of decisions that have brought you to where you are right now in your life. Are you happy? Or do you want more: something else, the next level of achievement? I thought acting was going to be the entire book of my life. I was wrong. It was simply a number of amazing and unforgettable chapters. Are you ready to start writing the next chapter in your life?

What do you really want? Forget about being practical and rational for a moment and let yourself say it. Let yourself dream it. If you want your life to be different in 2015, you need to start training today. Decide what you want, let go of the past and take the first step.

  • There are over 5000 subscribers to this newsletter. I took the first step in April 2000.
  • This is the 83rd Story Theater Newsletter. I took the first step back in May 2000.
  • I just hosted my 96th Story Theater Retreat. I took the first step in August 1996.
  • I’ve given over 700 hundred keynotes and trainings. I took the first step in October 1987.

What are you in training for?

  • Your first book? How many pages did you put in the bank today?
  • A full time speaking career? How many speeches did you put in the bank this month?
  • A new job or career? How many inquiries did you put in the bank today?
  • A new certification or degree? How many classroom hours did you put in the bank this month?
  • A job promotion? How many “above and beyond” actions did you put in the bank this week?
  • Running a marathon? How many miles did you put in the bank this week?

And finally: what are you going to have to let go of in order to move into your new and exciting future? What are you holding onto that is holding you back? Who are you holding onto that is holding you back?

Take the first step. Today.

Doug Stevenson
Author of Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method and creator of The Dynamite Speech System

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Henry Ford

Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out into the ocean —  

Christopher Reeve, Actor






This quote brought back memories of when I learned to scuba dive many years ago.  All the initial lessons I took were in a swimming pool where it was easy to feel safe and secure. You couldn’t get into too much trouble in 6 feet of water!  By the same token, the environment quickly became boring and confining. 

Then it came time for my first open-water dive.  The location for this momentous occasion was a couple of miles off the coast of St. Martin in the Caribbean.  Was it a little scary – you bet!  Not to mention the fact that during my first few minutes in the water, my regulator blew off the end of the hose! But not to be deterred, by fear or equipment malfunction, I borrowed another “rig” and down I went.

It was spectacular!  I lost all sense of time (good thing the Dive Master didn’t!) and became totally captivated by the vivid colors of the many varieties of fish, the ghostly wreck around which we were diving and above all, the absolute serenity of floating around almost without a sound save the quiet bubbling of my breathing.  A time in my life I will never forget.

It’s only when you stretch, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs and fears that a whole new world can open up for you.  And it could be even better than you might have imagined!  But you won’t know if you don’t try. Are you playing around in the shallow end of the pool or are you ready to take a leap and dive to great depths in the ocean?

Midlife Dreams: Do You Believe They’re Possible?

“The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” -­ Richard M. DeVos

Points to Ponder 

What do I want from life?

What is standing between me and getting it?

How would I feel if I never achieved what I wanted?

How will I feel when I get what I want?

Do I believe getting what I want is possible?

Take Action!
If you don’t know what you truly want, take the time NOW to find out. Don’t leave this life with “if only I had followed my heart.”

Imagine the feeling of getting what you want – joy, excitement, enthusiasm for life, bliss, contentment. Focus on it as often as you can.

If you don’t believe it’s possible, ask yourself “why not?”  The answers will undoubtedly be self-limiting beliefs that can be overcome.

Commit to taking one step, today, towards overcoming whatever is blocking you.

Midlife: Find your Hidden Treasures!

Don’t let fear stop you from venturing into the unknown. It’s a glorious meadow filled with hidden treasures. Dance through it till you find the gold — Evelin Saxinger, ND

Field of Treasures

Field of Treasures

Points to Ponder 

What unknown am I facing right now?

What am I afraid of?

How would doing the unknown make a difference in my world?

What’s the worst that could happen?

What’s the best thing that could happen?

Take Action!
Look for a way to meet the fear head on. It probably won’t be as bad as you think.

Imagine the feeling of finding the hidden treasures.

Start dancing!

When you find the treasures, reward yourself and celebrate!

Are you Stuck Living in the Past?

In my last “Are you Stuck” post I talked about poor self-image as a limiting belief and provided you with some statements that you may be saying to/about yourself. This time I want to address the issue of being stuck living in the past.

All your experiences are recorded in the past which makes it valuable as a learning resource for the present and the future. Dwelling on past mistakes or reliving miserable memories is self-defeating. They cannot be changed.  If you want to grow, let go of the past, live in the now and plan your future around what is most important to you.

If you answer “yes” to a number of the following statements, you are probably living in the past:

I dwell on the past
I underestimate myself
I can’t make decisions
I don’t enjoy life
There are things about my past that I resent
I worry about the past
My past has a large impact on me
I have troublesome memories of the past
I am too conventional
I am resistant to change
I block out the future
I pay too much attention to past procedures and policies
I continue to relive past memories and situations
I lack imagination for the future
I go by the rules
I don’t have much fun
I seldom consider alternatives
I am dull and boring
I go to the same spot for vacation every year

These are just a few of the negative ways you may be allowing the past to control you. Start paying attention to the moment you are living, see the positive in every situation (there is always one if you look hard enough) and start doing things differently.  Learn EFT and let it be the first step in helping you get out of the past and into the present.  For more information on EFT, visit

I Want to Follow my Passions but I’m Afraid of Change

I know what my passion is and what my ideal life looks like but I can’t get there from here!

Plenty of people say they want to start living their passions but never seem to be able to make it to first base because they don’t understand how powerful their fears about making changes are.  These conscious or subconscious fears will stop you dead in your tracks every time unless you deal with them. 

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) has been extremely successful as a tool for eliminating those negative beliefs that stop you from living a more fulfilled life. You may come up with many different beliefs but the first one I want to address is Fear of Change.

Here are the EFT Setup Phrases, followed by two rounds (one negative and one positive) for the specific topic of being afraid to change:

If you are not familiar with EFT, go to to view the tapping points.

EFT Setup Phrases

Step 1. Tapping the karate chop point (either hand is fine), repeat the following statements out loud (or use words that fit your own situation)

Even though a part of me is afraid to change and follow my passions, I deeply and completely accept myself.

Even though other people may not like it if I follow my passions, I choose to go in that direction anyway.

Even though change is hard, I accept who I am and that I have these beliefs.

Step 2.  Focusing on the challenge, tap on negative phrases such as…

Eyebrow: I don’t want to change

Side of Eye: Change is scary

Under Eye: I don’t want to upset _____(name)

Under Nose: It’s not safe to change and follow my passions

Under Chin: It’s not safe for  ______(name) if I change

Collarbone: I feel comfortable staying where I am

Under Arm:  I don’t want to make any waves

Top of Head: It’s easier if I don’t change

Step 3. Focusing on the solution, tap on positive phrases such as…
Eyebrow: I do want to make the change

Side of Eye: ______(name) can handle it

Under Eye: I will do whatever it takes to make the change

Under Nose: Maybe I WILL be safe in following my passions

Under Chin: I deserve to follow my passions

Collarbone: I love following my passions

Under Arm:  I want to live a more passionate life

Top of Head: I feel free to release this fear now

Continue tapping and notice how you feel more calm and balanced by eliminating the emotional distress related to your issue.

My blog post Change your Mind, Change your Life demonstrated the power of mind/body techniques in helping my mother-in-law recover extremely quickly from surgery for lung cancer.  You can find that post at

If you would like to learn more about EFT, go to and download the free manual.

WordPress Themes