Identifying Mental Barriers to Success

When things are not going as well as we would like, we often look for external factors as the cause. For instance, if you don’t have a full schedule in your practice, have you heard yourself saying something like this?

  1. It’s summer, it’s always slow in the summer.
  2. There’s a recession, people don’t want to spend money on therapy.
  3. There are too many therapists in my area, that’s why it’s hard for me to get clients.
  4. My online directory listing isn’t getting as many new clients as it used to.

Yes, it is slow in the summer, and yes we are coming out of a recession, and yes, it is getting more competitive in the marketplace. All of these things are accurate. And despite that, many therapists still have full practices. See, it’s not these external factors that determine whether or not you will be successful. Of course, external factors contribute to your success, but they don’t determine it.

What truly determines your success is your own internal factors. Does your mindset and belief system support your success, or are your beliefs holding you back. I’ve worked with therapists who have built six-figure practices even during the summer, even during the recession, even despite having competition in their area. One of my clients has hired two new full-time therapists just this year, in order to keep up with the demand for his services. His plan is to add at least one more before the end of the year. And he’s in Ohio, which has been one of the hardest hit economically.

Many years ago, I heard Jack Canfield teach the following equation: E (external event) + R (internal reaction) = O (Outcome). Events are the things that happen to us. We have no control over these. However, we have complete control over our reactions to these events. This is where the magic happens. Or, perhaps I should say, “This is where the magic CAN happen.”

Unfortunately, many of us grew up with belief systems that hold us back from true success. We were taught scarcity, or limiting beliefs. One of my mother’s favorite expressions is still, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul.” The idea being that there is never quite enough to go around. And that’s how I grew up. Not poor exactly, but never quite enough to go around. So when I became an adult, that’s exactly how I managed my money. No matter how much I made, there was never quite enough. I remember being in my late 20s, earning $82,000 per year, and wondering why I felt broke.

The crazy thing is that I didn’t even realize this was an ingrained belief. I thought it was just the way life and money worked. As I began to work on my own self-development, I came to understand this one just one of the choices I was making that was keeping me stuck financially. When I learned to manage my finances differently, so much changed for me.

I had to learn that I truly did have enough money to go around. I realized that my financial programming was simply a generational issue (you Bowenians will love this!). My grandparents grew up in Europe during the war. During those times, scarcity was a reality. My grandmother used to tell a story about how she and her four sisters all had to share one pair of “nylons”. So only one sister could go out at a time, until the next ration came in.

So what did my grandparents teach my parents? That there isn’t enough to go around, and that you can never trust that you will have enough. That’s what they knew. It’s what helped them all survive those conditions. But that wasn’t the reality for them raising my parents in the US. The reality was that they DID have enough food, enough money, enough nylons.

However, since my parents grew up believing in scarcity, what do you think they taught my sisters and I growing up? That’s right, scarcity. And so I set out my life following in the same path to scarcity. I believed there was never quite enough to go around. I acted as if there wasn’t enough to go around. So you can imagine, that’s the reality I created in my life. I created a life that fit the story I was telling.

I had the good fortune of connecting with a spiritual teacher who really invested in me, helped me see this cycle, and break it before I inadvertently taught it to my own children. Now, I truly understand that I create my financial reality and that I’m not bound by the stories of the generations before. That is such a liberating and empowering place to me.

I’ve shared this deeply personal example because I want you to understand that we all have these mental barriers that hold us back. The problem is that they are so deeply ingrained that they function as “blind spots”. We don’t even realize we have them, and how destructive they are, until someone on the outside points them out. I’ve had three amazing coaches in my professional career, each of whom helped me move to a whole new level of success, because they could point out what I couldn’t see.

And I’d like to help you see what you can’t see. Maybe you have the same mental programming I grew up with, or maybe you have a different obstacle, but most of us have something. Something that is holding us back and we don’t even realize it. Or perhaps you’re in a different category: perhaps you realize you’re getting in the way of your success, but you can’t seem to break the pattern. Since we’re all therapists, we know that insight doesn’t necessarily lead to change.

Change MUST happen in your thoughts BEFORE it can manifest in the external world. That’s why I’m devoting my Practice-Building Success Workshop this month entirely to identifying and overcoming these mental barriers. I’ve even invited a guest expert, Gina Bender, who has been extremely influential to me personally.

If you’re struggling to fill your practice, and you feel like you’ve “tried everything”, this workshop is definitely for you. You can learn more about it and register here: You’ll not only learn powerful strategies to create a success mindset, you’ll be joining a supportive community of successful private practitioners. (HINT: Having a strong, supportive community is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a success mindset.)

Look forward to seeing you next week!