Yes, I am writing today about the core mechanism that keeps individuals, families, teams, organizations and even societies stuck in sub-optimal levels of awareness and functioning. It is tied to the “magic” of the human mind and its ability to create, craft and maintain certain states of consciousness that my colleague Wayne Gerber and I have labeled “spells.” What is more, networks of human minds linking together into societal structures of perceiving and thinking create and maintain their own “spells.” Our insights and practical tools come from multiple perspectives and applied work: clinical psychotherapy, marital-family counseling, epidemiological research, sociological studies and more than a quarter century of doing leadership, team and organizational consulting.
A spell is any incantation or formulaic set of words and actions that casts a web of magical influence over people, animals, things or events. In our formulation of this we see the process of these spells leading to unnecessary, non-useful and even hurtful limitations. These limitations take on the form of repetitive, circular ways of thinking, perceiving and relating that over time damage relationships, creative capacity, effectiveness at work and limiting life force. After all, we can not act any more enlightened or loving than our ways of thinking and perceiving allow. If we don’t change our minds, we can not change our behavior.
The tragic aspect of this state is that most people suffering from a “spell” of limitation are unaware that they have been ensorcelled or enchanted. They are unaware they are under the influence of a spell. They don’t see it, only the outcomes or consequences of the spell. Just one example, when I was in clinical practice and doing psychotherapy I saw a man who continued to suffer from loneliness and repeated failure to create and sustain an intimate relationship with a woman. He continued to try to solve his problem but because he did not see the source of the limitation he kept failing. He blamed it on the demanding nature of modern women, on his intellectual demands when in relationship or on sexual incompatibility. Non of those were the cause. His “spell” of limitation was a patterned way of thinking, a deep-set cognition that basically said, “If you get close you will get hurt – you can’t trust others.” It wasn’t until we surfaced that internal incantation and exposed it to the light of day that he could begin to step beyond the self-imposed state of limitation that the spell dictated to him. Once the spell was in the open, we could break it with a counter-spell and a state of structured “experiments” where he began to try on new behaviors and ways of interacting. He was able as a result to create a meaningful and long-term relationship.
We have repeatedly seen people from all walks of life from CEO’s to Secretaries, from large organizations to small start ups, stumble from different spells of limitation that create blind spots, hampering effectiveness and creating needless limitations. We have now outlined the core processes of these spells, labeled the major spells and pioneered a pathway and set of practices for breaking the spells of limitation. If you are interested in more, stay tuned to these blogs that will outline and anticipates our upcoming book, “Breaking the Spells of Limitations.”