By: Mark Musselman
When I was a young boy I wrestled with my brothers all the time. Our wrestling matches were as much a part of our weekly routine as school, eating, and sleep. These memories are among my favorite; with one exception. One instance involved one of my brothers pinning me to the floor. He accomplished this by sitting on my chest, pinning both of my arms beneath his knees rendering me helpless to move and desperate to be set free. Fortunately my older brother eventually felt sorry for me and came to my rescue. This was my first experience with a “breakout moment” when, in an instant, I went from being captive to being free. What a glorious feeling! Just writing this has me reliving those moments and feeling the complete joy of escape.
As I near my 50th birthday, wrestling with my brothers is no longer part of my weekly routine. I have however, not given up wrestling. In fact, I wrestle more today than at any point in my youth. But these days it’s with a different foe. It has no physical form. It isn’t visible to anyone other than me. It’s more wily and cunning than my brothers ever were. And I’ve come to see that I’m not alone. My colleagues, friends and clients are in similar wrestling matches with this formidable foe.
The foe is thought. The thoughts that take the shape of stories about how life is. The thoughts that take the shape of how a person is. The thoughts that have a person or a team seeing who they are not as opposed to seeing who they are. The thoughts that separate people from each other, from their true self, from their potential, from family members, friends, community, health and a happy, fulfilled life.
Often these thoughts are referred to as “limiting beliefs”. These are thoughts that cause me to shrink as opposed to expand. They limit me and hold me captive. Mentally rehearsing these limiting beliefs (making them my truth) impedes my forward progress, essentially pinning me to the ground and rendering me helpless. I become hopeless, desperate to be free, to breathe and move freely.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my work as a coach and facilitator is being a catalyst and witness to “break out moments” with my clients. To see them free from the tyranny of limiting thoughts and beliefs brings me that same euphoria as when I was set free from physically being pinned to the floor. And similar to my needing the aid of an empathic brother to set me free, most people need the aid of an outside voice. Someone to ask simple questions that open the mind to a new way of thinking, new possibilities, a new belief or thought process that breaks the chains and let’s a person up off the floor, ready to take back their life.
What foe are you wrestling with? What thinking is creating limitation in your life? Where are you being held back by a persistent thought process that has you pinned to set of circumstances that you are unhappy with? We all need an empathetic brother from time to time to help free us. Find that person. Solicit the help needed to be set free.