Do You Argue for Your Own Limitations?

I was reminded recently, thanks to one of my morning meditation readings, that I often argue for my own limitations.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “I can’t do that because ________ (fill in the blank)?”

Usually the reason that fills the blank for me is based on old thinking and belief systems that have dogged me since childhood.

Did you hear what I heard?

If you’re like me, you grew up thinking you couldn’t do something that involved a skill you were told you didn’t possess.

I was told I couldn’t “carry a tune in a bucket” (whatever that means).

I believed that myth until well into adulthood.

I nearly cried the day the choir director at church not only told me I could sing, but that she enjoyed mixing deep alto voices like mine with the higher tenor voices of her guys.

I was so proud!

What if all our limiting beliefs were erased by what we’re told we can do?

Let’s do it!  Let’s begin today–in this very moment–to tell ourselves, “YES, I can!” when a formerly limiting belief crops up.

My mother was deathly afraid of heights.  I was so aware of her fear that I unconsciously adopted it and since I was a kid have believed that I’m afraid of bridges.

(Interestingly, when I think of memories of bridges, one that instantly surfaces is of her walking down the middle of the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado clutching my dad’s arm and resolutely refusing to look to her left or right).

As an adult, the moment I see a bridge about to be crossed, panic begins to grow in the pit of my stomach.

There were times I hyperventilated while crossing a bridge.

There were times when I’d see a bridge and automatically think, “I can’t do this.” On more than one occasion, I have driven miles out of my way in order to circumvent a bridge.

But when I can’t avoid a bridge, I bear down, grit my teeth, hold my breath and make myself miserable for the short time it takes to cross.

Why do we hold limiting beliefs?

We assume the alternative is too scary.

A few years ago, while in San Diego, we rented a car to see the sites.  We did the zoo, visited La Jolla and drove up the coast to San Juan Capistrano.

Then we decided to visit the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

I jumped into the driver’s seat, put the top down on the Sebring convertible and off we went! Suddenly, we rounded a curve in the freeway and I saw it–the causeway bridge to Coronado Island.

Of course I knew the hotel was on an island, but my fear was so great that I subconsciously refused to think about the bridge.

Until I had to cross it.

I nearly slammed on the breaks in the middle of the southern California interstate.  Then, from out of nowhere came a brand new thought:  “YES, I can do this.

That one thought caused my limiting belief to implode.

Today, I still think about bridges; they will always exist as a means to get from one place to another.

But I get to choose whether to let an old belief terrorize me.

What limiting beliefs from your past can you let go of today?

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4 Comments

  1. Karl Koch says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Beth. It is so freeing to try something that seems impossible and have some success. I frequently recite a quote from Richard Bach’s “Illusions” to myself “Argue for your limitations and they will be yours.”

    • Beth says:

      One of my favorite books, Karl! You rank high on my list of people who has a great ability to visualize a thing into existence. You have a rare gift of looking beyond what most people would deem too hard or too much trouble. Seems like you’re in the middle of one of those visualizing projects right now . . . a pretty big one that I can’t wait to see completed.

      All the best to you!

  2. Priska says:

    When I was very young I had trouble learning maths. I developed the belief that I had no aptitude for maths. This transferred to not being good at anything technical. Now when I catch myself saying ‘you won’t be able to do this because wordpress is technical’ I answer back ‘what proof do you have that I can’t do this, everyone gets stumped learning something new.’ This has helped me see how ridiculous the belief that my struggle with maths 50 years ago had anything to do with mastering current technology. I then continue, and with each small success, old beliefs fade into the past where they belong.

    • Beth says:

      What a perfect example, Priska, and one I definitely relate to! I really like that response to your own voice: “what proof do you have?” I think I’ll be using it!

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