What did you want to be when you grew up?
Take a few minutes to really think about it. What did you want to do for a living? Where did you want to live? What kind of people did you imagine yourself to be around?
I can answer these questions really easily. Up until about the 6th grade, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was a really nerdy kid and I loved history. I could easily spend a whole day uninterrupted in my room studying ancient civilizations all around the world. I had even managed to teach myself Egyptian hieroglyphics because I wanted to figure out the engraved writings in the textbooks meant. I wanted to travel the world and meet exciting people, doing fascinating work, and having plenty of adventures. I was really excited about the possibilities.
Some time during the 6th grade, my teacher, Ms. Jones, asked us each what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember when my turn came, I stood up and said, “I want to be an archaeologist and study ancient civilizations around the world.” I had never shared that with anyone else before and was very proud of my answer. But Ms. Jones’ reaction was not all what I expected. She looked at me, tilted her head to the side and gave me a belittling a smirk.
“An archaeologist?,” she said mockingly, “Do you know anyone who does that?”
There were a few snickers throughout the classroom. Then she moved on to the next person.
I was instantly embarrassed and felt really silly. The message that Ms. Jones sent to me was: “Who do you think you are? How dare you think that you could do something that nobody around you has?”
And I received the message loud and clear.
I thought to myself, “Why did I think I could do something so far fetched?”
This is the first time that I remember having a self-limiting thought.
And since then I’ve had thousands of limiting thoughts.
We all do.
And self-limiting thoughts turn into self-limiting behaviors.
Not too long after this brief interaction with Ms. Jones, my dream of becoming an archaeologist fizzled. Those colorful ancient civilization history books weren’t as interesting as they once were, and I became interested in other things. Now, I ‘m not saying this was Ms. Jones’ fault. Perhaps, my interest would have changed anyway. But what I do think is a direct result of that conversation with Ms. Jones is that I developed the thought that my dream was unrealistic and therefore unattainable.
And I stopped actively pursuing it.
Whether because of fear, or deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy, or because of the opinions of other people, we all have had moments in which we question what we can accomplish and obtain. Moments in which we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t want what we want because it is “unrealistic.” Moments in which we will not allow ourselves to go after the things we really want because it is simply easier to do what we have always done. Moments in which we reign in our deepest desires.
But here’s the twist:
You can do whatever you want to do. Honestly.
Everything is possible. Any and everything.
Stop reigning in yourself. Stop chaining yourself to the ground. Stop holding yourself captive in a cage to which only you have the key.
Your only limitation should be that you are not causing harm to yourself or others. Other than this caveat, the world is your oyster.
We are spirit beings with untapped, unimaginable potential. This potential is laying dormant and is waiting for us to dream big, create beauty, innovation and love. These manifestations of our deepest desires makes everyone’s life richer.
Think of all the things in this world that started off as improbabilities, that are now so mundane we don’t even think about them–computers, airplanes, the meteoric success of Oprah Winfrey, space exploration, the presidency of Barack Obama, the internet, medical breakthroughs, the 80 year old who runs a marathon. They all came about because at one point someone had to believe that they could achieve unlikely things that no one else had ever accomplished. And what if they hadn’t? All of our lives would be affected negatively.
None of us knows how long we have on this beautiful earth. So why spend your precious time and energy ignoring the things and experiences you really want to have? Dream and pursue your dreams.
In other words, when you stop yourself from achieving what you can do, you don’t just limit yourself, you limit everyone around you who could benefit greatly from your freedom, your inspiration, and your light.
Here are 3 tips you can use to stop limiting thoughts and behaviors, so that you can give yourself permission to do the things you want:
1. Become aware of the limiting thoughts you have on a regular basis.
You might be surprised by how many you have. Does any of this sound familiar?
- I can’t, because I’m too old/young.
- I can’t, because I don’t have enough money.
- I can’t, because that’s just not for me.
- I can’t, because I don’t have any friends.
- I can’t, because I don’t have enough experience and/or limitation.
- I can’t, because I tried before and I failed.
- I can’t, because it probably won’t work out.
- I can’t, because I’m not good enough.
These are all self-limiting thoughts. These are all impositions that you have placed on yourself or have allowed others to place on you. These are all cages that you have decided to live in.
These thoughts are so ingrained in our thinking patterns, that many of us don’t realize that these thoughts are not the truth, but rather something we are telling ourselves. They are myths and they have no place in your path to abundance.
For the next week, I’d like you to reflect on your own limiting thoughts and behaviors and write them down. How often do you tell yourself “no”? And what is it costing you?
2. Actively question your limiting thoughts
Once you become aware of the frequency and the type of limiting thoughts that you have, begin to question the thoughts.
Unfortunately at the time, I did not have the presence of mind to question Ms. Jones. If I had, I might have said to Ms. Jones or to myself, “What does it mean that no one I know has done this? Why does this mean that I can’t do it?” This would have been followed up by, “What would it take to achieve something so out of the ordinary?” Followed by more and more questions. In other words, I would have targeted my brain power into figuring out how to achieve the improbable. I would have talked to people who had achieved it, and found support and advice.
The act of questioning the limiting beliefs lead to proactive behaviors.
Proactive behaviors lead to different results.
3. Ask yourself, what you really want
The answers might really shock you. Maybe all those desires that you stuffed away years ago might start to flood back.
- A family?
- A fulfilling relationship?
- To make enough money so that you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck?
- To travel the world?
- To run your own business?
- To pursue a different career?
Or maybe some other things that I haven’t mentioned. But the follow up question remains the same: Why have you stopped pursuing these things? Why have you told yourself that you could not have them?
Was it worth it? Are you still dissatisfied with your life? Do you still wonder “what it”?
If limiting beliefs and behaviors are what’s holding you back from pursuing it, perhaps it’s time to stop the limiting behaviors and go after it.
This is your life and you are solely responsible for going after what you want. No one else is coming to make your dreams come true
In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your limiting thoughts. Whether current ones or ones that you had in the past? How are you stopping them? And what are you doing in spite of them?