Andrew’s story about self-limiting beliefs and judgement

Andrew’s story about self-limiting beliefs and judgement

If you are a regular listener to the Spark to your Success podcast or a reader of this blog, then you’ll know I love a good story to illustrate a point.

I’ve recently talked about perfectionism and being judgemental and how these two traits are indeed very negative. To demonstrate this, I’d like to share a little story with you about a young man named Andrew who was his own worst enemy due to self-limiting beliefs.

Meet Andrew 

Andrew was a young man who attended one of our youth courses. At the time he was 16 and had just left school. He’d been fortunate enough to find a manual labour job and although it wasn’t a role that he enjoyed it was a job that added a little money to his pocket and gave him a bit of independence. 

During the course Andrew was the most disruptive delegate in the room. He was constantly seeking attention, talking loudly and inappropriately, and he interrupted people. He wasn’t listening to the speakers or to the other delegates because he was too busy thinking about how he could be in the spotlight. 

He persistently interrupted other delegates and the speakers with comments about going to the pub, how much he drank and how much he wanted a drink. His diet was appalling and consisted mainly of sugar, fizzy drinks and caffeine and, according to Andrew, beer! He was overweight, very unfit, had a poor complexion and was lethargic most of the time. 

Andrew’s behaviour was not only challenging for the speakers and course leaders, but it was annoying to the other students. So much so that by the afternoon of the first day they physically segregated themselves from him by moving their chairs away so in the middle of the circle there was a big gap and he was sitting there all by himself. 


“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.” Wayne Dyer.


Does judgement help or hinder you?

Now, I’m pretty sure you’ve probably already made assumptions or judgements about Andrew. Perhaps you’re thinking he’s lacking in social skills or that he’s rude or arrogant – and it would be easy to go down that route. Maybe you’ve decided that he’s uneducated, only thinks about himself and that he likes to be the centre of attention. If you had been on that course with the other delegates, would you have got fed up of his behaviour and moved your seat too or maybe challenged him about it? 

You’d be forgiven for asking him to be quiet, like many of the students did on the day, and to keep his comments to himself – not that he took any notice of those requests. You might even have considered asking him to leave as he was causing so much disruption. In your judgement you could easily have dismissed Andrew as a no-hoper as many did – and he absolutely knew it and felt those judgements. 

In their dismissal of Andrew everyone in the room and other people like his parents, his teachers, his friends, even his boss and the people that worked with him never got to see the incredible gifts and resources and strengths that Andrew had because his presenting behaviour blinded them, preventing them from seeing beyond the cover-up of all that attention seeking. 


“The least amount of judging we can do, the better off we are.” Michael J. Fox


Looking beneath the disguise

I took the trouble to give Andrew the attention that he so desperately needed (and I do mean needed not just wanted) in a coaching session later that day. When there was just him and me, I could give him all the attention he craved and discovered that Andrew was an amazing soul. 

Unfortunately, he’d been given some really disempowering beliefs about himself. He heard them so often from others that he’d actually turned them into his truth and thought they formed his identity. 

His parents had split up when he was young and he lived with his mum and his step-father who treated him with disdain and unfortunately were emotionally abusive to him. He still saw his real dad but after the marriage ended his dad become an alcoholic and was often in no fit state or sober enough to appreciate Andrew’s company. 

How self-limiting beliefs manifest 

The emotional abuse and lack of attention from both sides of the family had taken its toll on Andrew, on his confidence and his self-esteem to the point where it was hard to find either in him. Not that they weren’t there, they had just been massively reduced. Andrew truly believed there was nothing good about him and his lack of self-worth actually put him at risk because he truly didn’t care what happened to him, whether he lived or died. Although he wasn’t suicidal, he just had no regard for his own safety either.

All Andrew wanted was to be accepted and loved. His drinking and talk of drinking were just his way of attempting to be noticed by his father and he thought it was a way to get noticed by people around him too. He just wanted to have something in common with his dad so he could hang out with him and feel that he was wanted.


“Don’t concern yourself with the opinions of those who judge you. That is placing on them an importance they do not have.” Donna Lynn Hope


Love the person not the behaviour

I’m trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is all about communication and conscious personal development. NLP accepts that people are not their behaviours and that was so true for Andrew. He needed to be loved as a person and then his behaviour could change. 

People’s behaviour is a noticeable symptom of a need that is being unmet. If this has sparked your interest, read more about the six essential human needs. For Andrew, after receiving positive attention (because we have a need for love and connection and we have a need for significance or freedom) during the four day course and some tough love in dealing with his limiting beliefs and behavioural patterns, he now lives his life and appears in a way to others that is very different. 

A positive change

If you meet Andrew today, you’ll see a confident, caring, responsible young man who looks after his health and is much more proactive. You will be greeted with a great big smile, compliments and an eagerness to help – you may even get a big hug when he gets to know you! Andrew can tell you his strengths and his gifts if you take the time to ask and he is consistently taking steps towards the life goals that he’s now set.

One of Andrew’s dreams was to become a landscape gardener and after our youth course he enrolled at a local college to study the necessary skills. The college was 24 miles away from where Andrew lived so he travelled by bus each day. He was so committed to the course that one day when the bus wasn’t running he got on his bike and cycled the 24 miles each way. He told me, ‘all I kept thinking was that TeeJay said if you want something badly enough you’ll find a way – so I did!’ Bless him, that’s the spirit!


“The more a man judges, the less he loves.” Honor de Balzac


Choose the life you want to lead

Andrew’s story is wonderful, but it’s sadly not a one-off. Many people suffer from self-limiting beliefs and find themselves on the receiving end of judgements that do not help. In fact, it makes a bad situation worse. 

Please do share your stories and comments and let’s learn together. Connect with me on social media and say hi.

See the good in people and support them to fulfil an unmet need – sometimes a little positive attention and help to see what a negative impact certain behaviour is having is all that’s needed to make a significant change. Go and be magnificent today. 

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