Have you ever been trapped by a limiting thought?

I can’t do it. I’m too fat/stupid/smart/old/unworthy.

For many of us, these thoughts prevent us from moving forward in our lives. And yet, sometimes, we’re able to break free of these restricting beliefs and let our freak flags fly.

photo: USAG Humphreys on flickr

How do we break free? What’s the underlying mechanism behind such release? And why do some limiting thoughts vanish quickly, while others take years to eliminate?

I’ll tell you why.

Get ready, because Dr. Z is back! And this time I’d like to introduce you to my latest model:

The Prison of Perpetual Propaganda

photo: dustin gaffke on flickr

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The PPP is not a fun place! In it, we tell ourselves all kinds of lies, keeping ourselves immobile and incapable of pursuing our dreams.

It sounds bleak, doesn’t it? But fear not!

Because there’s a way out.

The way out is to systematically counter the lies of the PPP with the truth. And by truth, I mean positive, life-affirming statements about ourselves.

photo: Sean and Lauren on flickr

Yes, I’m talking about affirmations, but it’s more than that. The way out of the PPP is to engage in a full-on onslaught of positivity:

Gratitude, prayer, meditation, visualization, as well as affirmations and affirmative thinking.

We dunk ourselves in the Big Dipper of the Divine, and before we know it, those prison walls come tumbling down!

photo: Mass. Dept of Environmental Protection on flickr

For those of you who have engaged in such practices, you may have noticed that sometimes the walls drop quickly, while in other cases, it can take years for them to fall.

Here’s why.

Let’s say the limiting beliefs are in the area of self-expression. And let’s say that, before you start consciously eliminating these beliefs, you’ve already made some progress in this area:

You’ve surrounded yourself with friends who believe in you. Your confidence is growing. You’ve taken some baby steps toward self-expression in safe environments.

In a case such as this one, the walls of the PPP are already cracked.

Your affirmative thinking serves to knock down what’s already weak, and before you know it, you’re singing in the streets or dancing like nobody’s watching. Or both.

photo: 2010 World Cup – Shine 2010 on flickr

But in other cases, it seems like nothing’s happening. You affirm, you pray, you meditate, but still you’re surrounded by the thick, smelly walls of the PPP.

What’s a Goofball to do?

Don’t give up! Your work is having an impact, it’s just that the walls are thick and . . . smelly. And they may take a while to come down.

Remember the Shawshank Redemption? Remember how the Tim Robbins character broke out of prison by slowly, systematically chipping away at the wall of his cell?

Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes it takes a while.

But that’s no reason to give up hope!

It’s also important to note that sometimes, especially in cases where others are watching, it’s important to protect your work.

In Tim Robbin’s case, he used a poster of a pinup girl to hide what he was doing.

A similar technique can be used with the folks in your life who may critique your methods. Folks who say things like: Affirmations are stupid. Why are you wasting your time with that silly stuff? You can’t change something just by thinking about it!

These folks, bless their hearts, are perpetuating the lies of the PPP. So when they ask what’s new in your life, you say Not much! Everything’s great! Thanks for asking!

In other words, you show ’em that pinup girl and keep moving!

There’s one more thing to know about the PPP, and it’s the most important thing of all:

The PPP is an illusion.

The door is always open. You can break free any time! The PPP is built by lies, and the instant you realize this, you’re free.

This revelation is always open to us.

Sometimes it comes in a flash. Sometimes it comes when the already-cracked walls tumble down. And sometimes it comes after years of chipping away, while the pinup girl hides our work.

So here’s the recommendation from Dr. Z:

Keep up the good work! Affirm and pray. Meditate and visualize. A strong spiritual practice will bust you out of the PPP, every time.

Now take two pinup girls and call me in the morning!

When have you been imprisoned by the PPP? And how did you break free?

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