Do we limit ourselves by what is right in front of us? Do we limit ourselves by our perspective? Do we limit ourselves by what we perceive as our limitation? All questions that were asked by a speaker I was inspired by this week.
Next week I am heading to my second travel writing retreat. I am so excited to meet a new group of writers and see my writing coach/friend! I am also excited about the opportunity to stretch and learn, experience and create. This excitement is only waned by the apprehensions I have about my own ability and self- proclaimed limits. Once again, I am starting to ask myself those damning questions; “am I good enough of a writer to be among this group?” “What do I do if nobody likes me?”
So as I fight these demons again I thought about the last retreat in Italy. So, last night I grabbed my journal from 2 ½ years ago to read and learn. I opened the journal haphazardly and the first entry I read began, “I talk myself into believing I cannot do something before I even try. I think I psych myself into believing that I already am not sure about something so if I fail I can do an “I told you so” to myself.” I sat on my bed dumbfounded. Really? You are still dealing with this self- doubt Suzy.
I sat back and realized that this was my limitation that I place on me. And it is a limitation I have placed on myself for a long long time. My ex-husband once said to me that I convince myself I can’t do something before I even try.
I don’t have any illnesses, disabilities or anything that physically should stop me from most things (my height can be a disadvantage sometimes, I will never be a basketball player!) but my mental limitations and emotional limitations are what I need to embrace differently.
The speaker I saw focused on embracing the limitation from the inside in order to drive creativity, adaptability and flexibility. His limitation was a nerve condition that took his ability to paint the way he wanted away, in his mind. After some time, he realized that he could create art differently without worrying about the shake in his hand. He used his feet, words, props, glass, light, etc to create incredible pieces of art, even though his hand shook. He called it “embrace the shake.”
So how do I embrace the limits I place on myself. My view of me, I can’t do something before I even try. I have a good friend who wants to take me hiking on a mountain that is quite a challenge. I want to go, really I do. All the while, however, I am thinking to myself, “I’m going to stay on the trail, no climbing rocks, I hope I can do this…” I have not even gone yet and I have limited myself.
Same is said for writing. I want to go on this retreat and cannot wait. However I am already questioning my ability against other “writers”. So my view, my what is, is what limits me. I look right in front of me and assume I cannot do something whatever that is. I have to use “what if” more. I need to look more at the opportunity and change my perspective than already assuming I cannot do something.
There are two parts to limitations and self- limiting beliefs, the actual limitation and our own perspective. I have allowed my perspective of my ability or my perspective of my fear to limit me so many times in my life. Two and half years ago, my boss started to talk to me about a new role with my company. One of the reasons I hesitated was because I was afraid I would fail. A good friend of mine who I was speaking with through this thought process looked at me and reminded me that I know what I’m doing and have all the support I need, why would I think I would fail. I couldn’t answer. It was my fear that was limiting me and my ability to see the opportunity this new role would give me.
I finally flipped that thinking to the “what if” and saw the opportunity this role gave me both as a leader and a business executive. It was the best decision I have made as it has enhanced my skills, broadened my view and given me exposure I otherwise would not have had. Most of all, it sets me up for broader opportunities because I have multiple business disciplines under my belt. This role actually enhances my future opportunities with the company more than I ever imagined. Yet, I started off worried I would fail.
I placed limits on me and my ability and then had to push those limits aside. And I did. After listening to the speaker I realized that this view of what is right in front of me versus what the opportunity is at the heart of my self-limiting self-talk. I need to continue to change that perspective. I must embrace this thinking from the inside and then forge into “what if.”
What if vs. What is. A new perspective to take a limitation and drive creativity. For me this means thinking differently and forcing my “I can’t” out of my head when I hear it.
So, for me going forward, I’m going to embrace my fears and push forward, limitless!