By Joseph Feusi
“If you tell someone that they have no future and they believe you, then there is no point for them to go looking for a future because they believe they don’t have one.” –Joseph Feusi
"There are some people who have pulled pretty big rabbits out of their 'You’re not ever going to be able to do that' hat." –Joseph Feusi
I’m often asked, “What is the worst thing you can say to a child or anyone from the mentoring standpoint?” There are many things, but there is one statement in particular that has powerful ramifications. This is to tell a child, or for that matter an adult as well, that they have no future. If they internalize this as a belief, after hearing it enough, taking it to heart and really believing it, it will manifest destructively in two ways. The first is a need to prove that this belief about them is not true. So instead of doing an investigation and figuring out what is best for them to do as a person here on the planet, they may grab something that is totally inappropriate to them as a human being and attempt it, thereby proving that they are capable of doing something. This becomes problematic both if they succeed or if they fail. If they fail at doing something that they shouldn’t be doing because it doesn’t represent them as a human being it reinforces the belief that they have no future. If they succeed, then they may be stuck repeating this activity for the rest of their lives. This then does not give them the opportunity to really ask the question, “Is this something that I want to do?” The second way the limited belief can manifest is that they may become so disempowered that they don’t try anything. Life becomes a form of surrender, and they’re just along for the ride. As Kahlil Gibran said in The Prophet, you become like a boat with no sail and rudder. So you just bob around wherever the currents take you. Maybe even eventually sinking.
Any time you have to prove that you can be something or do something under these sets of circumstances, you are doing it as a reaction to external forces that have judged you and deemed you incapable. Attempting to prove anything that you are already innately capable of doing but lack the realization that you have the capacity of doing is the classic breaking of something that is not broken. If you had been supported in your belief system that you were capable of doing things whether there was empirical data or not to substantiate that is very important because it (your heart’s desire) gives you permission to find out what makes sense for you. And when you find that out, there is nothing to prove. There is just you and the being of you and it!
When people get sent off on a wild goose chase running around willy-nilly as though they’re looking for the magic place or thing that will represent them, it undermines asking the fundamental question: “Maybe I already am who I want to be and what I want to do is close at hand.” People for all kinds of reasons, usually for their own personal security or wanting you to join them in sitting in the pity and misery of having an unrequited life that they themselves missed will consciously or unconsciously misdirect you about your life. So here’s the deal. We are all Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. We are all wearing our own version of the ruby slippers that will take us home. So just repeat, “There’s no place like home”—meaning, your own heart’s desire is within you. When you figure this out, you may be kindly telling a lot of people in regards to who you are and what you’re doing to shut up (or the like). Welcome home!
Unlike telling people that they are incapable of doing something in particular, you can take this to the extreme of telling people that they have no future. This telling of having no future can come in many forms. It can even be nonverbal as a father giving a look to his daughter that she can’t sing when she’s clearly singing! The ways to communicate disempowerment of self are myriad. They come in all shapes, sizes and forms, and all of them are poisonous to the point of being abusive to the heart’s desire. Maybe somebody has good intentions because they’re afraid if you go do something that they perceive as not providing some form of security in your life, say for example you want to become a musical performer or actor, their intent may be of good meaning from their perspective but if you miss out on your life because of believing them it’s abuse. Danny Kaye’s father told him to stick with playing the accordion because he could always make a living playing at weddings. It would have been really sad if Danny Kaye had believed his father. The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of people running around who believe this crap—and believe me it’s crap. This becomes painfully and blatantly obvious when you eventually enter into or find your empowered state. It’s very difficulty to have a concept of being in a self-empowered state when you are in a disempowered state. Once you are in a self-empowered state you have no problem understanding the disempowered state and how you got there. Whether you realize it or not, no matter how disempowered you feel, the majority of us unknowingly are standing on the road to empowerment, the same way Dorothy found herself wearing the magic shoes. You are beyond the magic shoes—you are magic itself!
If people have convinced you to mistakenly believe that you have no future then you are not going to go looking for one. You will settle for whatever shows up, and feel lucky that whatever that is, you can at least do it. This in no way, shape, or form is how you find things that represent you as a human being. As above, once again, this is a reactionary dynamic that doesn’t have anything to do with you as a person. When you get into this dynamic it is very easy for you to get trapped doing this for the rest of your life.
It is very important for children that they have a sense of achievement and accomplishment. This is not something that should be left up to the educational system that your child is in. It is important that you as a parent give your children things that they can achieve and have a sense of accomplishment about or at. This is how you build character and self esteem. It is important to understand that you protect your children and anyone else for that matter—adult relational partners and friends—from the statement, “You cannot do that.” I find myself in sets of circumstances where I see people who want to attempt to do something and once in a while I question internally whether they can. But very rarely, if ever, do I say to someone that they cannot do something, nor do I even hold onto those thoughts—generally I keep my mouth shut—because I have seen people pull some very miraculous things out of the “You can’t do that” hat. Now on the other hand, if I tell someone that I believe that they can do it, whatever that “it” is, they usually can! And I tell them that, that they can do it, because there is a responsibility in the telling, and I would expect them to do the same for me.
A dream is a very fragile thing, and it is important to understand that one of our jobs as a human on this planet is to help each other believe in and foster each other’s dreams, because you yourself are a dream waiting to come into reality. It is important to always ask yourself, “Am I somehow placing limits on myself in regards to the fulfillment of my dreams because of what I have learned from others about who I think I am?”
This is an unusual way to look at the situation of self-empowerment and the fulfillment of your dreams. I want you to start thinking in terms of yourself that you are the rabbit and you are the hat. You are both. You will be pulling you out of yourself, the same way you would pull a rabbit out of a hat because You are the Magic!