Self Limitation: What is Stopping You is Often Just You

A Facebook friend posted a query:

What if your glass ceiling is actually a mirror?

My favorite answers were:

  1. Well then you see your limiting beliefs.
  2. Then I guess you’d look up and see the only thing truly holding you back.
  3. Discovering what you have not been willing to see . . . jump through the ceiling to go to the next floor of your possibilities and become unstoppable.

Yes, I know some intensely visionary beings of light and they live in possibilities that not everyone can imagine. I’m very grateful for the network of ideals that flow through my Facebook feed.

How often do we stop short of taking a risk because we can imagine the outcome? Usually that outcome isn’t in our favor.  I must acknowledge what I’m doing and stop it. My kids do it and I’m trying to teach them not to, but what I have done consistently is a more solid lesson than the possibilities of what we can create when I’m choosing to be intentional.  Being intentional is a choice that needs to be chosen moment to moment when habits are easier to fall into.

An example is when we go shopping and my kids already expect what I will say yes to and what is usually a no.  Anything food related that isn’t too full of sugar or caffeine is usually a yes.  Toys are usually a no, unless it’s one that is reasonably priced.  The rest depends on my budget and how much I want to put up with it.  It’s a mom thing.  We don’t always want the loud toy that requires batteries.  We sometimes prefer quiet time. My consistency means my kids are really hesitant to dream big and ask for what isn’t usually approved.  It’s not something I want to continue teaching them.  I want them to learn to ask for the bigger things.  You don’t know what the possibilities are until you ask and are answered.  Everything in life is negotiable.  You just have to know what to ask.

In the shopping example, my kids limit themselves by thinking about my expected response. They stop themselves before giving me the opportunity to answer and in life, it’s a practice many of us have perfected.  We limit ourselves, not knowing we are often our only limit.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In and in her examples, there were many times she encourages women to Lean In.  This means not accepting what has been and pushing for the new thing.  I highly suggest it.  Her prose is easily engaging and her examples relatable.  More than that, her career altering perspective shift is just what is needed for women in the workplace. Sandberg writes about the many times in a career that a woman is likely to not lean in.  Be it starting a career, or jumping into a conversation, they often limit themselves.  Don’t get me wrong.  The glass ceiling and financial disparity in the work place are real and influenced by gender.  That’s a norm all of us get to break together.  At the same time, she points out where women are responsible and offers the authority and power to regain control of how you craft your career with her honest advice.

It’s a practice for me to ask, “what story am I telling myself?”

My big goal for the end of the year is still to take my kids to Canada.  It’s Kid1’s dream and my goal.  I do not yet have the finances, and that is the first story I tell myself. It’s hard to not think of my present financial situation as the only one there is.  It’s hard to not convince myself that the only way to make the money happen is to do what I’ve always done, and that’s going to work and making money.  Earlier this summer I started selling whitening toothpaste.  It’s work, but it’s also sitting on my phone and playing on Facebook.  (You can try it too.  It’s less risky than slanging rocks on a street corner.) Last week I was in a minor car accident with a minor payout to go with it.  Money comes to you in different ways all the time.  Why do I usually believe I won’t have enough if I don’t have a job? Because I’m living in the story I tell myself, and not the possibilities that fall in my lap because they surprise me and I can’t count on their schedule, even if I can count on those opportunities arriving (because they always do). Always doing things one way doesn’t mean I have to keep doing so.  I get to try new tricks.  I get to let the possibilities play themselves out without falling to the limits of a past that may never repeat itself.

The next story I tell myself is about access.  First on my list is to get passports.  I get to fill out forms, wait in an office and pay for them. Once I do, I also have to get permission from their Dad.  There’s also transportation and lodging. The area that limits me the most is having to ask their Dad for permission.  This was something that Kid3 also believes is impossible.  The kids aren’t convinced their Dad would let them go.  I’m not convinced either, but living in possibilities means when the time comes, I get to ask him. I will not just assume I know the answer because in reality I’m only in my own head and not always sure of what my own thoughts are.

The last story I’ll go over for now is the story that it’s not my time.  If I have until the end of the year, I can push my goals, right? I can wait for the right job.  I can wait for the right body shape to wear that outfit.  I can wait until my kids are older.  But then I’m giving the world excuses that I need to put off living my life.  What is so important that I would put it before my desire to live the life I choose to live? Go get your life! No one else gets to live it but you. Putting your life on hold doesn’t serve anyone.  Where’s your urgency?

It’s like lying.  What is so important about someone else’s perception that you can’t stand in the integrity of your word? What is so important about someone else’s feelings that you would choose to invalidate who you are by lying? If you can’t tell the truth as you see it, can you see why you would devalue yourself so much as to make someone else’s perception of you more important than how you see yourself?

So what is your story?

What do you tell yourself and convince yourself of, based on a past that has nothing to do with the future you get to create? What limits do you put on yourself?  What limits do you allow others to put on you? Why do you put these limits on yourself and do you know you really don’t have to?

Go get your life.  We get two. The second starts the moment you decide you only get one, and you won’t get out of it alive.  That’s not how the game is played.  We all die, but there’s no reason to live a dead existence.

 

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