Breaking Through Self Imposed Limitations

 by Michael Corthell

A limitation is a hindrance, something that keeps something from moving. Self imposed limitations keep us from growing and moving forward with our lives. They are the result of a negative mindset or 'I can't' thinking.

Groups of people can set limitations also. The best example of self imposed limitations by 'group think' is in breaking the barrier of the  ''4 minute mile''.

Back in the mid 20th century, track and field athletes tried and tried to run a mile in under four minutes, but it just wasn't happening. 4 minutes seemed to be an unbreakable barrier. In fact, it seemed to be an outright impossibility. Then on May 6, 1954, an English runner, named Roger Gilbert Bannister ran the mile in 3:59.4 minutes to set a new world record. Right afterward, runner after runner broke his record. Why? In the successive runners mind, the barrier was gone.

The lesson in this is that many times we accept artificial barriers without a second thought. Some of us make a habit of limiting ourselves. Set your goals high...

''Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?''
—Robert Browning

Never settle for less. Don't place limitations. Don't take 'no' for an answer. Many of us never reach the level of achievement that we are capable of because we never challenge ourselves.

Self-imposed limitations hold us down and keep us from reaching our full potential. When a person sets a limit, they put a limit on what is achievable. That person will never evolve beyond that set standard. People will never evolve beyond their self-set, self imposed standards, even if they are fully capable of doing a particular thing. This wouldn't an issue at all if they regularly set their limits high, but most people set their sights far too low. They are afraid of failure.

How do we break out of these self imposed prisons?

Challenge yourself. What do you want to do? "I want to be like my bother, be a good father, be successful and have a nice family.'' Scared? Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you take on this challenge? Go deep inside yourself to figure out what your real fear actually is—and define it. Is it that you may fail? Is it that you might be embarrassed? This self examination will reveal the truth about your fear, but you must be honest with yourself.

Prepare and be prepared for the challenge. Preparation will boost your confidence. More than likely you will find that most of your fear will disappear the more you are prepared for what you want to do. You can be prepared for any challenge, but chances are it won’t go exactly as you planned it. You will likely hit some unexpected snags. Preparing the best you can before you start is good advice in any situation. Even if you want to have a long, relaxing and fun vacation you plan it.

Find role models and mentors. Ask for support. In the example statement above, "I want to be like my bother, be successful and have a nice family.'' Find people you know that are successful and have a nice family. Ask them how they got there. One thing they will tell you is that, ''It didn't happen overnight.'' You will then ask, '' How did you succeed and become happy then?'' Ask a few people. You won't have to 'cookie cut' what they did, but you will find a common thread that runs through each of their stories.

In the above example this young man wants to be a husband, a father and to be successful so that he can support his family. He has the 'want' but he has to develop the 'will', that is the most important part in achieving his goal. What then is missing? ACTION. This man has FAITH and the faith of those that care about him but faith only goes so far. Martin Luther said, ''Faith without WORKS is dead.'' Meaning empty professions of faith have no power to change lives.

Challenge yourself, change your thinking, change your life. Take positive action.

Looking past limits
by Caroline Casey

Activist Caroline Casey tells the story of her extraordinary life, starting with a revelation (no spoilers). In a talk that challenges perceptions, Casey asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.