Restrictive or Expansive?

by Christopher Lovejoy on September 6, 2021

How many among us harbor beliefs that sabotage our chances at success in life, while remaining oblivious to these restrictive beliefs, even as they enact a profound yet pervasive influence in our lives?

We might even be given to wonder for ourselves: “which, if any, of my beliefs restrict me and my path through life, my time, my money, my success, my love, my trust, my care, my work, my play?”

While growing up, many of our beliefs were inculcated under the influence of repetition and emotion; we were too young to know that “whether I think I can or can’t, I’m right.” Today, we know better: our beliefs continue to generate and perpetuate a certain experience of reality, and what we don’t, can’t, or won’t believe circumscribes our realities in ways we might not even innerstand and appreciate.

We now know that restrictive personal beliefs revolve around core trust wounds, beliefs like I’m not good enough . . . I’ll never be free . . . my life is over . . . I simply don’t have what it takes to succeed. Contrast these beliefs with these brighter, more optimistic afformations that follow:

Why am I feeling so calm, clear, and content in this moment? Why am I feeling so happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise? Why am I feeling so free to be me, here and now? And why am I suddenly finding and feeling so much flow, freedom, and fulfillment from one moment to the next?

More to the point, why am I feeling so blessed to live and love this life I lead?

Restrictive beliefs, however, don’t always conceal personal wounds.

From birth onward, parents, relatives, siblings, friends, teachers, clergy, and media seem overly keen to impose themselves on us, telling us what to think and feel, how to be and behave, what to expect and suspect ~ to have us buy into beliefs that have absolutely nothing to do with us.

One wonders: what did I forgo or forsake because I was “told” it simply could not be done?

As we move through life, we encounter difficulties and setbacks that reinforce these restrictive personal beliefs, so much so that the possibility spaces in our lives shrink rather dramatically, almost to a point where we cannot help but live and learn on autopilot. How many among us have given up on their dreams, bearing the “same old, same old” of mediocrity to the ends of their days?

But wait, what if . . . just what if . . . a different way could be found and followed?

Where belief is concerned, we have only three postures we can hold: (1) we can remain neutral, not knowing, and not caring to know, that “I hold silent assumptions that undermine the quality of my life”; (2) we can reduce the number of beliefs that undermine the quality of our lives; or (3) we can increase the number and potency of beliefs about ourselves that enhance the quality of our lives.

Since I choose not to remain neutral about my beliefs, this leaves me with just two options: I can either attempt to turn off (bypass, dismiss, ignore, suppress) any restrictive beliefs running through my mind or I can attempt to turn on (adopt, assume, affirm, afform) expansive beliefs in any area of my life that I feel is in need of expansion; the choice remains mine and mine alone.

If I choose to focus my energy on making and staking a claim to this second commitment, then I need not concern myself with the energetics of over-coming any restrictive beliefs; I need only replace these restrictive beliefs with expansive beliefs through the energetics of be-coming.

How might the process work in practical and spiritual terms?

The process begins with a simple choice: do I continue to live my life in the shadows of past follies and failures under the influence of restrictive beliefs? Or . . . do I commit to recreating myself every single day of my life for the rest of my life under the influence of expansive beliefs?

The process is not so much about demonizing beliefs that restrict my potential, as it is about alchemizing the lead of restrictive beliefs into the gold of expansive beliefs that serve to expand and express my capabilities in a bid to realize my deepest and fullest potential as a person.

The process is not so much about “let’s wipe the slate clean,” as it is about “let’s switch out one slate for another” ~ not so much about “let’s do this as quickly as we can,” as it is about “let’s do this in a warm space of presence and promise, purpose and passion, power and patience.”

With the choice made, the process can then proceed with a contemplation of { what if . . . ? }: what if . . . I saw through any illusion that kept me from living the life I desire? What if . . . the reasons why I am where I am are coming about as the result of baby elephant syndrome?

baby elephant syndrome

a syndrome that describes those who are conditioned at a young age to believe they have no power to move beyond personal limitations, real or imagined, so much so that they give up on becoming more than who they believe they are, giving up on doing more than what they believe themselves capable of doing

What if . . . this conditioning is held in place because of certain beliefs we hold about ourselves and our lives? What if . . . we began to enhance the quality and vitality of our lives through the process of swapping out these beliefs for ones that bring on a life that we know we require and desire?

Let’s be clear: a belief is simply a state of mind or habit of mind ~ an attitude, if you will ~ in which, and through which, trust or confidence can be placed in some one or some thing. Ask yourself: what if . . . I am but one or two beliefs away from living and loving the life of my dreams?

Just what if ?

By design or by default, we harbor beliefs about ourselves and our lives, and we harbor beliefs about beliefs. While growing up, and without even knowing it, we took on beliefs about work and play, success and failure, time and money ~ beliefs that held us back, or kept us on track.

My intent in posts to come is to run these beliefs through “the process” with the eye of an alchemist.

And yes, fellow alchemist, you’re welcome to join me!


if you deem what is slavish by nature to be free,
and if you deem what is not your own to be yours,
you will be shackled and miserable, blaming others,
but if you deem as your own only what is yours alone,
and if you deem what belongs to others as truly not yours,
then no one will ever be able to coerce you or stop you;
rather, you will find no one to blame or accuse, and
do nothing against your will, and therefore have no enemy,
for no one will harm you because no harm can affect you

~ Epictetus, Enchiridion, 1.3

Previous post:

Next post: