Self Limiting Beliefs

by abishephard 13 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • abishephard

    Hello everyone,

    Left the JW’s as a teenager; as with most exJWs I have struggled throughout the years with being a successful adult. I have recently starting addressing some of the psychological trauma of my childhood, and I wonder if anyone else here can identify with any of these self limiting beliefs:

    - Pursuit of Wealth is bad (i.e. poverty and persecution is an ‘identifying mark of the true religion’; it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God; better to store up ‘riches in heaven’ rather than worldly riches on earth; who else had a scornful view of people that were successful and wealthy?

    - Pursuit of Knowledge is bad (i.e. I was always made to feel ashamed of my love of reading, because all the knowledge that you could possibly require was with the WTBTS; further education obviously out. My parents constantly told me I was only in “worldly” school because it was illegal for a 12 year old to quite school and full time pioneer; if i got good grades or marks I used to hide it from them because they made me feel “worldly”)

    - Unless validated/approved by a man, every decision you (independently) make is untheocratic/worldly/satanic (i.e. because ‘every woman must be in subjection to their husbands’, it can be difficult to have a balanced relationship; I tend to second guess myself and look for validation and approval from my partners.)

    - The world is against you, and looking to corrupt you and lead you astray at every opportunity (i.e. difficulty trusting people, always believing that their is some corrupt agenda in the background).

  •  The Bethelite
    The Bethelite

    As they say "You check out but you can leave!"

    Time to deprogram yourself.

    Sadly, I was in this thought contamination for over 50 years and out for 18.

    Just like a person who has gone into combat, I must say a part of the experience it will always be with me until the day I die.

  • stillin

    Back in the earlier years of the WT, people would get together and discuss their thoughts about various portions of the Bible. Some new thought might seem so astute that one would write a letter to the Society to share what they had found. This was gradually squelched and a "wait on Jehovah" mindset took root. This promoted a lazy and suspicious congregation that frowned on the thinkers.

    So the religion not only drew limits on individuals, they drew limits on themselves!

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    welcome to the site Abishephard

  • dubstepped

    Yes, these issues are common. There's also a lot of "learned helplessness", a form of denial where many wait for something to magically fix their lives like the paradise was supposed to. I just made a post about it in my Facebook group that I'll share since you seem to be interested in the subject. I got certified as a life coach and I help a number of ex-JWs to work through their "stuff" and host recovery groups (recovering from the cult, not substance abuse) twice a week. So I come up against a lot of the issues that former cult members face, and here's my post:

    An illustration we used to be given as JWs was this (brought up by Kevin McFree's video). There are two families and each lives in a house with a leaky roof. The one family is miserable. The other family is happy. Why? The happy family knows that soon they will move into a new home. So they're happy to wait until that time, knowing that they will eventually be happy.

    That really summarizes what my parents did. My dad lived a life of denial, and honestly my mom did too. Neither would take a stand or do anything to really change their lives. They let life happen to them, they never really went for anything they wanted. It was a life spent with a leaky roof (we literally had ceilings that would bubble when it rained and pots everywhere), and nobody was going to do anything.

    In psychology that's often referred to as "learned helplessness".

    I don't know why, maybe it was my frustration with watching my parents, but I never believed that I couldn't do something or get something if I didn't want it bad enough. Eventually in 2008 after being suicidal I wanted so badly to be happy and I took steps to get mentally and emotionally healthy so I could be happy. I literally studied happiness, among many other things.

    My life isn't some fairy tale now but I'm happy. I got there, and if you're not there, you can get there in time. But you have to do something. You can't wait for someone to bring you happiness. There's no magic paradise coming for you, you might not even have tomorrow. That's a sobering reality.

    I remember learning in Spanish class the word manana. That it meant tomorrow but was often used as a way of putting things off indefinitely. Don't put your happiness off indefinitely. You deserve happiness like anyone else. Jehovah's Witnesses or whatever cult you lived in took it from you and then made you feel powerless to have it apart from them. It was all a lie. You can be happy. You just have to do something to get there. Nobody else can make you happy, it's an inside game. So please don't buy the lie that something better will magically come your way someday without effort and that it will bring happiness with it while you sit in misery. Take action, reach out, find something better.

  • sparky1

    Welcome, abishephard. I hope your stay here is productive and that what you have to say will add to the collective wisdom of fellow posters.

    I certainly can identify with some of your concerns. When I was a Bethelite in the middle 70's I got some advice from an older gentleman that I took on tour at Watchtower Farm concerning money and wealth. He told me NOT to believe everything that the Governing Body and Watchtower Society says about money. In conversation he told me that he too was a Bethelite back in the late 30's and early 40's. Over and over they were told that Armageddon was coming any day and not to be concerned about money or material things. 'Make sure that you take care of your financial future', he told me, 'since nobody else will.' That was great advice. I semi retired at 47 years old, I will receive 85% of the highest amount of Social Security at 66 years old and I have a very healthy retirement portfolio. I am very grateful for his advice. Over time, your concern for pleasing men in this regard will fade into the recesses of your memory. Get to work on your own financial future and GOOD LUCK to you!

    Education and the pursuit of knowledge is bad. Don't get me started on this one! I was blessed with a high IQ and was never able to formally put it to a 'higher' use. When I was in grade school, I had the opportunity to skip 2 grades and advance forward. Unknown to me, my religiously deluded god intoxicated mother would not have any of this! Also, my maternal grandfather was going to pay my way through law school but he died unexpectedly at a young age and that dream perished with him. So what happened to me on the education front? I quit high school in the 70's , pioneered and then became a Bethelite. I too like to read and so after I left Bethel I continued the tradition of being an autodidact. Don't give up on improving yourself in this manner. Life itself is a free education if you let it teach you what it has to offer. GOOD LUCK to you and never stop learning!

    I'm sure others here can offer advice better than mine. Pay attention to what the many good and intelligent people here have to offer you and I hope your future continues to get better and better.

  • Pete Zahut
    Pete Zahut

    Having your own thoughts without first referring to someone in authority was/ is discouraged . I remember people discussing things and they'd say "Lets look it up in the bound volumes to see what the current "thinking" is " What an odd expression.

    Also, being strong willed or having "gumption" was not looked upon as being a good thing. They liked you to check your spine at the door, when entering the Kingdom Hall.

  • LongHairGal


    I am glad you got out of the religion young..I can relate to what you have said - even though I came in as a young adult in the workforce.

    Pursuit of Wealth and Knowledge is Bad - Having a job to support yourself is not “pursuing wealth”🙄..I saw two schools of thought:..JWs who were well-off and respected (maybe because they threw money around like confetti);.. I also saw those that pursued poverty (mainly young). But, these young fools usually got smart in their thirties and tried different things to make more money... Let me tell you: anybody who pursues poverty their whole life and spends all their time in the ministry ENDS up poor in old age!..Thankfully, I never listened to anybody there!

    I saw the religion hated knowledge too. If you could give an intelligent answer that showed you had academic knowledge- they were threatened.

    Them Thinking You Needed Their Approval, etc. - as I said, I was not raised a JW so this meant nothing to me,

    The World is Against You, etc. - if you have an ounce of intelligence and willpower this does not have to happen..You can be a very balanced and happy person out of the JW religion.

  • Diogenesister

    That’s a very apt expression for so many of the behaviours I’ve exhibited over the years.

    I am naturally a very curious and ambitious person, there was so much I wanted to achieve but I refused to become a “taker” as I saw it. Wealth was a dirty word to me, so I I chose nursing as a career, which I won’t say I didn’t enjoy, but I felt creatively and intellectually stifled. I don’t know how I would have gotten through seeing so much suffering if I hadn’t believed there was something better awaiting people.

    Now I almost have a kind of ptsd about illness, suffering and death it’s almost a phobia. I’ve also gone from taking wild chances to being super risk averse.

    Ironically I did always believe the world ( or Satan) was out to stumble me and I was suspicious of anything good that came my way....thinking there was a price attached! I now realise I self sabotage and that it wasnt the world but me creating stumbling blocks all along!

    I do think that the wealth thing is partly generational, in my youth flashy displays of wealth were considered tasteless by everyone, not just witnesses!

  • zeb


    Hi there, welcome aboard. you will find some kind and practical helpers here and a few nutters as well. Hmm well thats got me covered.

    The line of your posting that does it for me is this; " I have recently starting addressing some of the psychological trauma of my childhood,"

    You are now on the road to recovery and success in life. ie being able to undertake pursuits a sport, and interest a creative hobby (there are zillions) without being subject to wt guilt trips being dumped on you.

    Reading? I have recently completed reading the works of Conan Doyle "Sherlock Holmes" and delighted in the wonderful English it was written in. I have also completed the huge work "7 Pillars of Wisdom" by TE Lawrence. (Lawrence of Arabia). Reading.. I love it and when i entered college at mature age my reading paid off in lots of ways. I am reading the Av of the Bible now for the third time and reading this archaic English makes you read not skim over it as you might a newspaper.

    It appalled me when I would hear young ones doing a reading at the kh and hear them make guess at it, mispronunciations of words and names, or use guessed completely wrong words along with silly laugh from the audience. Appalled? because it was enforcing ignorance. and also meant they hadnt practised the piece but that is another matter.

    The list of conditions you posted remind me of the way of life some in the T ran by and who I regarded as fanatics. One of whom was named at offender at the CARC.

    A fanatic is one who wont change his mind and who never changes the subject. (Churchill)

    Thankyou for your posting here, keep them up,

    Live long prosper in wisdom health and love.

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