We can do anything we want to do. We can do anything we believe we can do. It’s just limiting beliefs — those doubting, frustrated voices inside of us that aren’t sure if we can, or if we should try — that hold us back. I’m sure of that, but we may have to pick and choose because some things will take more time than others, depending on our natural gifts.
For instance, I’ve spent the past thirty years learning to be a novelist. It’s been a long road, and I was not naturally gifted in that regard when I decided I wanted to write the great American novel; but I’ll keep trying. I believe I can be successful at it.
But I don’t think I have the time to become an Olympic Table Tennis player. I spend too much of my time writing novels. Still, I believe I could do it. I’m willing to unlimit my beliefs in that regard. There are many things at which I can be awesome but I’m choosing things important to me:
- my health and well being
- my family
- my community (like this seminar)
- story telling (this blog, novels, and the like)
There are others, but these are the items that garner the most attention. Table tennis may yet trickle into the equation.
Limiting Beliefs Are Based an Fear
One of our human mechanisms is to avoid pain, and the embarrassment of failure is painful. So we are often risk-averse. That’s where many of our limiting beliefs get into our head, in order to avoid the pain of embarrassment.
It may have started by overly critical parents when we were children, or teasing by siblings, taunting by friends, or torment from bullies. Even now, your spouse or boss may be an asshole. Jerks are a dime a dozen, and they all can cause us pain. It often seems easier to avoid it and stay home.
Snarks Roam the Streets
On the Internet, snarkiness often rules the day. They pick on other people, make fun of videos, and goad us with flame wars. There is a Russian proverb: “You don’t need to put a lid on a barrel of crabs.” It refers to the fact that crabs will pull each other back into a barrel or a bucket if one of them tries to escape. They force each other to share the misery.
Life can be just that snarky sometimes. It takes a great deal of personal fortitude to climb out of a barrel of crabs.
Our primitive brain wants us to be lazy
It’s also a feature of our brain to be lazy. Our primitive brain wants us to conserve energy. Our primitive brain doesn’t care if we want to improve our fitness, or invest time balancing our checkbook; the primitive part of our brain wants us to chill and sit back to save energy in case there is an emergency later on. A pack of hyenas may be nearby, and we have to stay ready.
So there’s a biological component to not doing certain things. If taking up a sport, or learning a musical instrument, or going out dancing may be a risk, and may require some effort, our own brain may fire signals to just not do it. Skip it. Let someone else take that chance.
It’s Okay Brain — I Really Want This
The first step in replacing limiting beliefs with unlimiting beliefs is to acknowledge that they exist, and have a place in our life. Without them, your ancestors may have been devoured by hyenas, and you wouldn’t be here. Don’t hate them; just deal with your limiting beliefs.
Tell your limiting belief about what you care about. Is it your health, your family, or a passionate past time? Your brain may appreciate the importance of something like that.
Tell your limiting belief that you are willing to accept the risk of failure. Remind the primitive part of your brain that this is not the kind of thing that will put your well being in jeopardy. It may be embarrassing, but it will be okay.
Assure yourself you will forgive yourself if it doesn’t work out, but that you also are serious about this, and won’t give up. If it’s just a passing fancy, maybe you shouldn’t worry about it. But if it’s truly a step towards a goal you care about, you must allow yourself to believe you have unlimited potential, and the sooner you start, the sooner you can enjoy success.