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anxiety stress

What’s your ‘Catch 22’?

Catch 22 – revisited

I recently revisited the 1970 film Catch 22. I like older movies. They often offer more than today’s films, I think. Complexity of plot, character development, great cinematography, and very little computer generated content. I had seen the film a long while ago – I think perhaps it was when I was an undergrad at Creighton University. That dates me, I guess!

If you find the links to ‘external reviews’, you might click over to read Roger Ebert’s assessment. He was disappointed with the adaptation of the book. You have to love Ebert – tells it like he sees it. I wish he was still around to review more films. Perhaps that will be another blog post, on another day.

Inescapable

What is a ‘catch 22′, you ask? Wikipedia has a nice explanation. Essentially, it represents rules that create a sealed system. You can’t escape. In the film, pilots are flying dangerous bombing missions. You can ask to be evaluated to be grounded – but that just never works out. The inescapable environment, and the convoluted labyrinth constructed to maintain it is both laughable [at times] and tragic [all the time].

Limiting ideas

All this got me to thinking about the ideas that we carry around with us everyday – the ones that trap us from enjoying life and striving for the growth that we dream about. I suspect that most of us have a few. Perhaps it’s part of our development – we get feedback from our family of origin, teachers, coaches, friends, co-workers, intimate partners – just to name a few. Maybe there’s some value in taking a look at them, and deciding whether they are accurate or useful.

What’s weighing you down? Any of these sound familiar?

  • I’m not enough
  • I missed my chance
  • I’m unlovable
  • Everyone else has got it together
  • I’ll fail

Common Themes

The common theme of almost every self-limiting belief is that it:

  • Probably originates a long time ago
  • Came from someone else
  • Makes us miserable
  • Gets in the way of taking action and seeing a better future

What is therapy for?

One might say that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of the purpose of psychotherapy. Okay, fine. But consider this: maybe it’s all about examining the beliefs that we carry around with us – figuring out if those are helpful, or merely a source of pain, clarifying how we came to those ideas, and leaving them behind.

That’s what Alan Arkin’s character did. At the risk of spoiling the ending of a 40+ year old film, Arkin realizes that he must take action in order to escape the web he felt stuck to for so long. When he hears that another pilot successfully did so, he grabbed a life raft [nice metaphor!] and started paddling. All he needed was to know that one other fellow had done it.

WHAT WOULD HELP YOU TO START PADDLING?

Please share your thoughts on self-limiting beliefs and what helped you – in the comment section below.

By Terry Moore

Terry Moore, MSW, LICSW is an Independently Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Omaha, NE. He provides psychotherapy and pain management to adults, often utilizing Hypnosis. He is an Approved Training Consultant - through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis [ASCH], the same body that issues his Certification in Hypnosis.