The Guardians

Don’t stay up late in the evening! Don’t start a fight with your boss! Don’t buy that expensive car! Don’t walk on fire! These are all powerful affirmations which share a strong point: they’re all interdictions. These are sentences performed by a bunch of interesting guys inside us which we are too often ignoring: our guardians. In today’s post I’ll share some of my thoughts about how I deal with inner interdictions.

Meet The Forbidders

It’s amazing how much we define our environment by interdictions and limitations. If you take the time to assess for one day how many interdictions you are obeying you’ll be surprised. I know I was.  There are so many unconscious NO‘s we’re performing every minute. Don’t climb on the walls of your house! Don’t wear a sock on your hand! For god sake, don’t scream out of nowhere, with no reason at all, or you’re neighbors will be horrified!

The Forbidders are a very big and functional team inside ourselves. They’re very organized and experienced, and they almost never forget anything. They know what they have to do and do it with amazing precision. The Forbidders are responsible for keeping us safe as well as for keeping us bored. They’re responsible for our physical integrity (don’t jump off off that building, please) as well as for our cowardice (don’t try something new today, it’s risky).

The Forbidders are on a deep love / hate relationship with our true self. They are loved for maintaining a functional status-quo of our being by keeping us out of potential dangers. They are hated for maintaining a dull status-quo of our being by forbidding us to take risks and evolve. The Forbidders are brilliantly playing a double role: they’re as much protectors as they are limiters.

Accept Your Guardians

This double agent attitude is usually making for a slightly imbalanced attitude towards hate. We tend to hate our Forbidders rather than love them. And, as much as I am one restless challenger of any form of authority, I have to admit that this is not ok. Forbidders are a necessary thing in our life. Functionally, they’re perfect. Imagine what happens if you start walking towards running cars on a crowded street during rush hour. Your physical integrity will be seriously stressed.

Your guardians are helping you to define your territory. Without them, your playground would have no form, no consistency and no rules. They’re part of your life, and they’re at the root of the game. They are creating the boundaries of your actions in a way that will still keep you in the game. Without those boundaries, there wouldn’t be any game at all.

But they are also limiting your territory by this very action of creating it. The territory cannot be modified without pushing away those guardians. It would not be any growth without a serious challenge of the rules. There is always a tensions between the current state of your current world and the next, bigger and newer world you want to create. And at the very core of this tension, yes, you find your guardians.

Assess Your Interdictions

You cannot have a healthier and organic growth without a very good relationship with your Forbidders. If you’re too pushy, they’ll become more aggressive, asking for more and more effort from your part. If you’re too lazy, your territory will shrink by lack of initiative. One way or another, you’ll have to find a balance. From my experience, the best way to deal with all your inner interdictions is to assess them constantly.

Ask yourself as often as you can: why is that interdiction in my system? How is it acting? Is it fulfilling or not? Is it serving my goals or not? Each individual system is unique and what one interdiction can create in one person is completely different from the results it may have on another person. Each interdiction must be assessed in direct relation with your life goals and with your life management system.

You may find situations in which you may even want to reinforce some interdictions (if you just dropped a bad habit for instance). Or you may find situations in which an interdiction is really holding you down. The key is assessment. Be there, analyze what’s happening in your system and constantly interact with your Forbidders. As rigid as they seem, they do have a natural tendency to really serve and protect you.

Negotiate With Your Gatekeepers

After assessment you should start to negotiate your moves. Assessment reveals you the nature and effects of an interdiction, but without immediate action, you aren’t yet moving forward. And moving forward implies a really careful negotiation process with the Forbidders. Why negotiate and not just go over their head? Remember, your guardians are a very organized team and they always know what they’re doing. Getting over them will be a bit dangerous. It’s better to make them work for you instead of throwing them away.

Each interdiction in your system can be modified. It can be downgraded or upgraded, it can be eliminated or it can be created on demand. Sometimes this process is just common sense, sometimes it involves discipline and habit creation. Sometimes the process of overcoming an interdiction is a question of creating a new habit in 15 days. Sometimes is more difficult.

The negotiation process with your guardians can be fascinating. You may even try to visualize them  and give them human form and then write your discussion in a journal. That is a very interesting yet highly effective exercise. Imagine how a conversation with the main interdiction of being happy could look like:

– Hi, I know you’re the guy that doesn’t allow me to be happy, is that true?
– Well, hi there. And yes, I am exactly that guy. How can I help you?
– Umm, for start, I want to know why are you keeping me away from happiness?
– Well (
this varies from person to person, this is just a random scenario) because you told me so, remember? Last time you were happy, things turned out pretty bad and you put me to guard this gate. Never allow me to go there, or I’ll be hurt, this is what you told me.
– Did I?
– Of course.
– Well, that was long time ago. I think I can give it a try again. Can I?
– Uhm, I don’t really know. I am quite a disciplined guy. I don’t think I can do this.
– Please, let me in again. Pretty please, with sugar on top?
– Well, I don’t know what to say. Maybe I won’t open the door completely. I’ll just crack the door so you can have a look again. What do you think?
– Fantastic, this is what I want for the moment. Thank you!

And you can go like this with all your guardians. Remember, as harsh as they are seeming they are there only to serve you, in the first place.

Be Thankful

One last thing before you go talking with your guardians. Be thankful. Those guardians are here to protect you, or to humbly get out of your way and let you explore fantastic new territories. Show them a little love, it will make them feel good. It will make you feel good, also.



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Those darn forbidders take away all the fun! I have found that in my thirties I start to realize that this is happening and there is something I can do about it. I love this post- very intriguing!

    Jay’s last blog post..The Sunday Ponder

  2. @Jonathan – thanks for the nice words.

    @Jay – yeap, sometimes they take out all the fun but one thing I learned about them is that you really have to negotiate your way out of this. Ditching your forbidders completely, as appealing as it might sound, is not a solution.

  3. Hi There,
    I am pretty set with the gatekeeper;) I try to stay opened minded but something are pretty much set in stone personally – work related is a different story. I am always trying to find a new more productive way of doing things.

    Great article.

    BunnygotBlog’s last blog post..Thoughts On Advertising And Child Nurturing

  4. Respect the boundaries of others; respect yourself as well. It’s okay to “go wild” by some definition of going wild, but not if it makes you compromise your values. Something else to think about is self-discipline for the sake of being a role model for others; this is especially relevant for parents. It doesn’t always work.
    Anyway, I like this article. This is interesting stuff!

    nutuba’s last blog post..March Serenity

  5. @BunnygotBlog glad you’re at peace with your gatekeepers, that’s a sign of balance and control 🙂

    @nutuba I’m a big fan of self-discipline. Dealing with interdictions surely involve a lot of self-discipline and awareness. I like the role-model perspective too 🙂

  6. Those forbidders!! Sometimes they do good. Yet, it seems these guys are the ones holding me back too often. I guess it’s time to assess some of the interdictions going on… Interesting read today Dragos! I enjoyed it all very much.

    Lance’s last blog post..Be Yourself, Share Freely

  7. @Lance thanks for the nice words. I used to have quite a stubborn attitude towards interdictions until I finally managed to negotiate my way out of it.

    I’m always happy if I can bring a spark. It’s up to you to start the fire, but at least I brought the spark. 🙂

  8. My husband likes to call most of them hardware, or genetical imprints, sort of milions of bits of data imprinted in the human brain throughout all the stages of evolution; sometimes we go even further in our discussions and speculate that they have been there, wiring up for hundreds of milions of years of life on earth, adding up, keeping us safe; but i tend to like more your conceptualization, that is the words you use to dress up the pre-existing idea; purely stilistically speaking, guardian/forbider sounds better than wire.

  9. @elena diaconu whatever the words used, they are here with a purpose. I think it’s up to us to assess their purpose and see if it fits with ours. Thanks for being part of the conversation 🙂

  10. […] Those are the sentences you hear when going for something you really want. Those are your guardians, your mental constructs made to protect you. Release them, you’ll be much better […]

  11. […] Or they live with you, in imbalanced relationships, based on power games. Whatever the place, those guardians have only one mission: to keep you in a perpetual state of submission. To prevent you from growing, […]

  12. […] Or they live with you, in imbalanced relationships, based on power games. Whatever the place, those guardians have only one mission: to keep you in a perpetual state of submission. To prevent you from growing, […]

  13. Wow, Dragos, let me tell you, I think I have found the perfect website for me. it’s what I’ve been looking for a long time. I love your topics, you are a very wise man. thank You so much.
    Jorge Perez

  14. […] Those are the sentences you hear when going for something you really want. Those are your guardians, your mental constructs made to protect you. Release them, you’ll be much better […]

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