“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” –Stephen Covey
Let’s face it: limitations are a reality of a life. Most of us have to deal with limitations around money, time and energy. We also might face reduced opportunities due to physical or health disabilities, our race, gender, age, location or status. Some of us may lack education, skills, knowledge and credentials.
Yet no matter how many limitations we have in our lives, what levels the playing field is the freedom that we all have when it comes to how we perceive those limits. The way we relate to and manage our limitations will dictate what we will ultimately accomplish and how far we will go in our life.
The key to developing a healthy attitude about our limits is by learning to distinguish between actual limitations and “perceived” limitations. Your perceived limitations are nothing but a construct of your mind that has its roots in fear, insecurity, self-doubt, and a feeling that you’re not good enough.
These self-made internal fences give us an illusory sense of control and safety to protect us from the risk of failing, facing uncomfortable changes and being judged by others. This is exactly what shuts down the many doors of possibility, which can alter the trajectory of someone’s life. This hesitancy stops a person from taking up those opportunities, which could lead to their lucky break and a more promising future.
All that negative self-talk that tries to keep us “safe” comes from the limiting beliefs that we developed about ourselves in early childhood experiences where someone made us feel inadequate and told us that we didn’t have what it takes to face challenges in life. This message got imprinted in our minds and solidified over time as we unconsciously looked for experiences to verify those beliefs.
This reminds me of a scene from the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where Quasimodo dreams of one day stepping out from the confining walls of the Cathedral so that he can mingle with all the friendly locals in his town who he had watched every day from the top floors of the bell towers. He wanted to get out of the isolated world, which his master, Frollo, always told him was his sanctuary.
When Frollo gets an inkling that Quasimodo is tempted to escape the towers, he crushes those dreams by reminding him of the reality of his limits:
“Remember what I taught you, Quasimodo. You are deformed. And you are ugly. And these are crimes for which the world shows little pity. Out there they’ll revile you as a monster. Why invite their calumny and consternation? Stay in here and be faithful to me. Do as I say: obey and stay in here.”
This temporarily convinces Quasi to stay, until he regains the courage to break away from the mental shackles that Frollo created within him. Quasi eventually realizes that while his deformity and disfigured appearance was indeed a potential social hindrance, he could overcome it if he changed how he saw himself and allowed his inner light and kindness to shine so brightly that others see past his appearance.
Our limitations, whether created within our minds or enforced by others, do not have to be jail sentences. We can adapt to them and find ways to make the most out of what we have in our hands. In other words, we’ve got to learn to play the cards that we have been dealt with finesse and self-belief.
Deep down, we are all survivors, endowed with all the inner resources and strength to thrive in almost any situation. In fact, sometimes the most innovate sparks arise when we face limitations. Boundaries force you to become resourceful and tap into your imagination in search of creative solutions. During this process, you might stumble upon some unexpected breakthroughs, inspiration and wisdom!
We’re blessed with a fertile mind and boundless imagination that can be stretched if we choose to take advantage of it. Nothing can limit our capacity to dream when we have the right mindset and attitude. Even the most formidable situations plagued with limitations is “figure-outable”, as long as we don’t allow it get us down and we’re willing to strategize, plan and put in the efforts to push past those limits.
You can begin breaking through your limits once you make the decision to do so. I’ve outlined some steps that will help you steadily move towards thriving in the face of any limitations:
- Get rid of a scarcity mindset: Like most behavioral patterns, change must first begin with the mind. We need to switch from a “scarcity mindset” to an “abundance mindset”. This entails getting rid of our myopic views and negative attitudes when it comes to pursuing possibilities that go beyond the limitations that we’re used to. Some effective tools to make this shift include repeating affirmations or mantras, getting a coach or joining a community that inspires you (and getting rid of the naysayers) and constantly reminding yourself of your accomplishments and milestones that you have achieved. I’ve written a more detailed piece on how to create an abundance mindset in this previous post.
- Take a realistic assessment of your situation: In order to move past limitations, we should firstly have a reality check about our current situation. We can’t be in denial about the existence of real issues such as personal debt, a toxic relationship, a health problem or unemployment, because we won’t be able to actively search for solutions to overcome them and re-orient ourselves in a better direction. You would need to look the tiger in the eye, so to speak, and account for all the limiting factors that are getting in the way of you steaming ahead into the ideal life that you envision for yourself.
- Be resourceful and create a strategy: Now that you’ve faced reality and you know exactly what kind of barriers you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to take step back and get an objective overview of your situation. Channel your resourcefulness and figure out how you can tap into the gifts you already have. Ask yourself, how can I maximize my potential and get the most out of my present circumstances? Brainstorm and get creative about all possible solutions (be sure to ask others for their input) and then narrow it down to a plan and strategy that you are willing to commit to and follow through with.
- Have courage and patience: Pushing through limitations is certainly not for the faint-hearted, especially if they are difficult and complicated ones to deal with. But if you have conviction, courage and an unrelenting faith in your ability to create a life that you love, there’s nothing that can stop you. There will be ups and downs, frustrating times when you want to quit, or when things seem like they’re taking forever to manifest, but it’s exactly during those times that you need to stay strong by managing your emotions. You can do this by reaching out to your support system, consisting of strong individuals who’ll be there for you and champion your causes when you feel weak. You can be your own champion by taking note of the progress you’ve made so far and celebrating all your successes, no matter how small.
Remember that there’s a sacred entity lying within you that is limitless and eternal. This core of who you are connects you to a powerful cosmic realm where there are no limits, only infinite possibilities. Sourcing creativity, love and strength from this boundless place is the sure path to ultimate freedom.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What are the biggest challenges that you typically deal with when you’re in the face of limitations?
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