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The Behaviors That Hold You Back - The Top 10 Killer Constraints




Excerpted from
The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back
By Flip Flippen

We all have constraints that are potentially hurtful and sometimes dangerous. What about a parent who isn't nurturing enough to his or her children? Or a parent who is too nurturing and continues to enable inappropriate behavior by not setting adequate boundaries? What about a boss or a spouse who is defensive and not open to feedback? It is easy to minimize the threat that our constraints pose, but even constraints that appear to be harmless sometimes play themselves out on a larger scale. How do we find out what those constraints are? What can we do about them?

I have called these things that hinder our performance personal constraints because that is how they function. They constrain us from moving forward, from rising higher, and from seeing the world from a fresh perspective.

The truth is that we all have constraints. And we all have more than one, or two, or three. The key is to identify and change those constraints that have the biggest impact on your life. Remember the story I told about the hot-air balloon? You can throw out either the one-pound weights or the twenty-pound weights. I can assure you that throwing out the twenty-pound weights will give you the greatest lift. If we want to remove the weights, or personal constraints, that hold us back, we must identify and take steps to break the constraints that have the greatest impact on our lives

In my work as a psychotherapist, I have two important tasks I must accomplish for every patient: first, I must make a diagnosis and second, I must prescribe the proper treatment. The diagnosis of any situation is critical. If the diagnosis is wrong, then it is difficult-if not impossible-to prescribe the correct treatment.

In life we frequently fail to make the connection between the pain or frustration we may be experiencing in a given situation and the tine source of that pain, which is often a hidden behavior or set of behaviors.

I have a colleague who has diagnosed many of his patients as having bipolar disorder. He was great at treating bipolar issues, and after a while, it seemed that every patient he saw had bipolar disorder. But many of the diagnoses were wrong. At that point it didn't matter how good he was at treating bipolar disorder-the diagnosis was wrong, so the treatment was useless at best and damaging at worst. Diagnosis is everything when it comes to assessing a problem. Wrong diagnosis leads to wrong treatment.

So how do we identify the problem correctly and begin the process of change?

Clarity of Focus

One Saturday morning as I was putting on my work clothes and preparing to take my horse, Mikey, to check on things at the ranch, Susan asked if I would sit and talk with her for a moment. I really didn't like the thought of losing time, hut I could see that she had something on her mind, and I adore her, so what could I say? As we talked Susan began to share with me that I really do work too much. She felt that I needed to do something to relax and take my mind off business and work. I was resistant at first because I enjoy the things I do, but I also knew she was making a good point.

Then she shocked me.

"Why don't you start playing golf?"

That was the last thing I expected her to say, and I sat there with a seriously dumb look on my face. "Honey, I haven't played golf since I was a kid. Where would I begin, and why would I do it in the first place?" She had already thought of those questions before she brought up the subject. She answered each of my concerns, then closed the deal.

"The next time you're in Florida, why don't you take a lesson from one of the pros and sec if it's something you would enjoy?" she suggested. I thought about it and agreed that I would.

Within a few months I found myself standing on a driving range in Florida with a well-known coach. This pro had worked with some top goiters and great athletes. . .and he was giving me a look that suggested I was neither! After they filmed my swing (I'm sure they recorded it for others' entertainment), we went through the next (and most humbling) part of the lesson. He started telling me all the things that were wrong with my swing: I needed to change my grip on the club, I should bend my knees more, and I needed to turn my hips more on the follow-through part of my swing. I wasn't following the same are with each swing-this had to be fixed, or I would never be consistent. Then came the discussion about my wrists and how "wristy" (whatever that is) I was, which was, of course, messing up my are even when I had it right because I was letting my wrists act "independently," something they apparently weren't supposed to be doing.

There were also comments about keeping my head still while swinging and, at the same time, keeping my back straight. With each new instruction I was forgetting the other things I was supposed to do. I was so confused at the end of the lesson that I didn't know what was going on. Too much stuff. I felt like Charlie Brown on the football field, paralyzed and unable to do anything.



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