Many years ago I had the privilege to participate in Dr. Deepak Chopra’s “The Soul of Leadership” program. It was a wonderful and inspiring program filled with information about synchronicity, spirituality and leadership. Dr. Deepak Chopra shared with us how elephants are trained in India. When I discovered the book: UNCHAIN THE ELEPHANT; Reframe your thinking to Unleash Your Potential, by Erik Wahl I thought about it again. This elephant metaphor has often been used to illustrate the power of our limiting beliefs:
the book - UNCHAIN THE ELEPHANT; Reframe your thinking to Unleash Your Potential, by Erik Wahl.

“When an elephant is born into captivity, the owner ties the animal to a tree or post with a thick chain to prevent the 250-pound infant from escaping. During the first few weeks of his life, the animal tests the chain that binds him, again and again, in an attempt to free himself and wander as his nature urges him to do. He learns that his efforts, however, are no match for the steel links. He gives up any further attempts to free himself, and thus relegates himself to live within a small circle.

As an adult elephant conditioned by his past experience, he can now be tethered to a small tree with the thinnest of ropes or, in some cases, no ropes at all. He makes no attempt to wonder because he carries with him, for life, the belief that he does not possess the power to break the ties that bind him.”

We all have our perceived ropes and chains that tie us down. We limit ourselves based on our past experiences and mental programming, and yet, there is an incredible power inside us that could bring us closer to our goals and the life we want to live. We have it in us to make things happen!

How can our beliefs hold us back and where do they come from?
Our beliefs are deeply seated in our subconscious mind and formed early on in our life. Actually, some beliefs are passed on from generation to generation. Infants and children are very susceptible to the influence of their environment. Childhood experiences, early successes and failures all affect our beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities. Further, some things we were told when we were young from authority figures can become our ropes and chains that hold us back from doing what we are capable of; stopping us from achieving what was well within our powers.

Unless we recognize and let go of the self-limiting beliefs we will not pursue what we truly want and live a fulfilling life. As an adult, we have more than enough power to unleash ourselves. We often don’t understand that the circumstances have changed, our ropes are thinner, our power has increased, yet we are still afraid to pull on those ropes. We give up without even trying.

Today, think about what’s holding you back.

To unleash your potential you first start with awareness. You can easily recognize your limiting beliefs:

Check in with yourself during the day and ask, “what am I thinking and what am I feeling?”
When you want to try something new, what comes to your mind? Are you embracing the new opportunity or is your "mind chatter" holding you back?

Once you are aware that it is your own beliefs holding you back, you can more objectively approach the situation and free yourself. There are also many coaching techniques available to clear limiting beliefs. I use several of these very successfully with my clients.

Once you have developed the awareness, think about that there are times you are also playing the role of the “elephant owner/trainer.” As parents, teachers, colleagues or friends, your words and behaviors can be limiting or empowering to others.

For example, we mean well when we ask our kids to be careful but an overly protective and worrisome attitude can influence how our children view themselves and their ability to succeed later on in life. In your role as the “elephant owner/trainer,” be aware of your words and actions and how they can affect others.

With this knowledge, you can unchain yourself. Snap the rope or chain. Clear your limiting beliefs and break your self-limiting habits. Set yourself free. Today!

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are. “ ~ Tony Robbins

Author's Bio: 

Ulrike Berzau, MM, MHS, PT, FACHE, Executive Coach and Consultant, works with individuals, teams and organization to achieve exceptional results in life and business. She has an impressive track record as coach, mentor and healthcare executive in the United States, Egypt and Germany and uses her coaching, leadership, healthcare and multicultural skills and experiences to be of service to those who aspire excellence and extraordinary results.
Ulrike is the co-author of the International Best-Seller Imagine a Healthy You and an inspirational speaker. She is a certified Thinking into Results Consultant, certified Life Coach and holds a Master’s Degree in Management, a Master’s Degree in Health Science, Physical Therapy, and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.