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For instance, James was a big athletic guy but over and over when he was a child he heard that he wasn’t particularly bright. He overheard that his studies, analysis and memory were not very good.

He heard he could do anything athletically. He could go out and achieve great things in baseball or basketball or football or soccer or tennis or any of these sports. But, when it came to thinking and to school many times in the background he’d hear his mom say, “Oh James is such a great athlete but he just isn’t very bright. He just really has a hard time and doesn’t think and retain well.”

After college when he got a great job and was doing well at his career. When it came time for performance evaluations, or when promotion interviews came up, or if he was starting into a new creative process, he oftentimes would find himself so tense that it sometimes actually made him physically ill. He’d have stomachaches, headaches, back pain–it just tied him in knots.

He couldn’t figure out exactly what it was, but he just knew any time it felt like he was being judged by somebody during an evaluation, an interview, whatever–it just tied him up in knots.


Another example would be Sarah. Very bright, but just told she didn’t perform well under pressure. She was fine so long as she had lots of time and everything was calm. She’d do well, but pressure was just something she had a hard time with. She heard it over and over and over from adults in her life.

When she would try out for a sport if there was pressure she would hear her parents say, “Oh, she would just fold.” Or if she was studying for a test they would say, “Well, if she has lots of time she’ll do well but if there isn’t enough time then she won’t perform well.”

Guess what? Many cases when Sarah would have a test in school she would feel shaky. Over time it worsened. One day she got ready for school, she had something she had to do, it wasn’t even a big thing, but she had stomach cramps that were so bad she couldn’t go to school.

Her parents were so concerned that there was something seriously wrong; they took her to a doctor. The doctor said, “I think you need to see a specialist.” So they took her to a gastroenterologist who examined her and said, “There’s nothing physically wrong with you.” They did tests. Nothing showed up.

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