“People who believe they have the power to exercise some measure of control over their lives are healthier, more effective and more successful than those who lack faith in their ability to effect changes in their lives.” Albert Bandura

 An article from Anthony Jennigs (Zifundisi)

 “I read an interesting article this week on the ten most famous hostage cases and it took me back to some fascinating times in history. The Romans were accustomed to take the sons of neighboring nation’s prince’s hostage and educating them at Rome, thus holding a security for the continued loyalty of the conquered nation. In more recent times hostage taking is made both for personal gain and with political motivation. Do you remember the case of Terry Anderson? On March 16, 1985, Terry Anderson had just finished a tennis game when he was abducted from the street in Beirut, placed in the trunk of a car and taken to a secret location where he was imprisoned. For the next six years and nine months he was held captive by a a group of Hezbollah Shiite Muslims who were supported by Iran in supposed retaliation for Israel’s use of U.S. weapons and aid in its 1982-83 strikes against Muslim targets in Lebanon. Then there was Ingrid Betancourt Pulecio, a Colombian-French politician, former senator, anti-corruption activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Betancourt was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on 23 February 2002 and was rescued by Colombian security forces only six and a half years later. She had decided to campaign in rebel controlled areas despite warnings from the government, police and military not to do so. Her kidnapping received worldwide coverage. These were both very high profile cases in the world media. Yet most hostage situations get very little media attention.

Take the case of the young man who wrote a comment on the hostage article I have referred to. He says, “The article brought back many memories including the time I was held hostage by my sisters Doberman dog. I was house-sitting and it wouldn’t let me out. I had to call my niece to come rescue me.” Ha ha! I am not sure the Doberman’s motives, but that was a classic hostage situation. As I said earlier most hostage situations go unreported and unnoticed. In fact, they happen frequently without us even noticing. Maybe you have been held hostage without even realizing it?

So what am I talking about? Many of us are held hostage by self-limiting and self-sabotaging behaviors. There is no political or financial motive. There is no great cause that we are fighting for. We are not physically locked in the trunk of a car or in a cold, damp cell. In fact we display the trappings of a normal existence – except for one thing! Success seems so far out of reach. Victories seems so fleeting. Failure, dissatisfaction and disappointment are more present than the exhilaration of small victories. It is like working each day in mud up to your waist. Progress is slow and limited. You can work so hard and literally get nowhere. Giving up is an easier option.

So what are self-limiting behaviors? They are behaviors that act against our own best interests. They sabotage our chances of realizing our dreams. We all struggle with different self-limiting beliefs, but I want to pay attention to three common areas that hold us hostage and sabotage our success. The first one is procrastination. This is one that I know can hold me hostage. It is the act of putting off an essential task until a later time, and doing non-essential tasks instead of the more critical ones. Although this procrastination definition seems pretty simple the effects of procrastination are not. Procrastination may be one of the biggest challenges you will have to overcome. When you begin to think about today’s society, there is less and less time in the day, so it is very important that we manage our time efficiently and limit procrastination as much as possible. Charles Kingsley said, “Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.” Scott Peck said, “Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” Quite simply, keep not doing the right things and expect continued failure.

Secondly, perfectionism is often mistaken for ‘being perfect’ or ‘doing something perfectly’. Perfectionism involves putting pressure on ourselves to meet high standards but also judging our self-worth based largely on our ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards. Here is how the perfectionist thinks:

  1. I have no free time
  2. No achievement is ever enough
  3. I blame myself if things aren’t done just right
  4. I can’t stand it when other people don’t do things my way
  5. I don’t trust others to do as good a job as I do so I end up doing it all
  6. I have to go over my work many times until it’s acceptable to me
  7. I have to do more and more in order to feel accepted by others
  8. I’m so afraid of failing that I never get started

Dr. David Burns said, “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person.”

Finally, lack of focus can hold me hostage. Anthony Robbins said, “It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”


So how do I get free from being a hostage of self-limiting behaviors? Recognize the need to change. Become tired of the hostage life. Choose a new set of life giving behaviors; even just two or three. Commit to action in the new behaviors and create a support system with good people around you to keep you on track. I believe that freedom is just a decision away. It’s time to unlock the hostage chains and throw away the keys once and for all! Come on, you can do it!

Have a great week

Your friend



If you have any questions or feedback about “Being Held Hostage” please email me on jenningsa@iafrica.com, I would love to hear from you.


Antony Jennings is an international trainer, consultant and motivational speaker based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Antony writes this free weekly mentoring letter to support and encourage those who are serious about taking charge of their lives. You will find an archive of his letters at www.antonyjennings.com or www.zifundise.com