When I was growing up a phrase that I remember hearing often is “they sky is the limit”.
I was never very fond of that phrase still, it stuck with me.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I consciously questioned why that phrase didn’t sit well with me.
I remember some of the questions that I asked myself were
-Why was there even a limit?
-Why is the limit the sky? Everyone can see the sky. If you are familiar with basic astronomy, then you know that there is so much more beyond the sky, so much more that scientists have discovered and even more that they have not. From stars whose lights extinguish well before lighting up our night sky, to planets humans may never set foot on. I have a hard time knowing all that and aiming only for the sky. And even though I was very young at the time that is what my young mind struggled to grasp. I had no idea what I could accomplish when I set my mind to do things, so I couldn’t understand why the adults around me encouraged me to set a limit. Why would I put a cap on my potential to achieve? Why did whoever come up with that phrase…why did they stop at the sky?
More importantly why do we as human beings place limits on ourselves? In my experience so far on this planet, I have observed that the people who are quick to tell me or someone else what they cannot or should not do are the ones who limit themselves the most.
I am not exempt from doing this to myself, it seems the older I get the less ‘fearless’ I feel moving through life. And I am learning that this is not uncommon, and I am not the only one. I’ve also learned that it takes a conscious effort to first become aware of the limits that one has set on themselves and even more effort to course correct once one is aware.
I say all this to bring forth the question, “what limits have you placed on yourself?” whether through external forces such as society and the individuals you surround yourself with or internal fears that may whisper in your ear, telling you all the reasons you shouldn’t. That you can’t.
If you’re like me at all at first, you may deny that you are limiting yourself with your own beliefs. And that’s fine, you may not be ready for the commitment of honesty to oneself required when addressing the limits you place on yourself. That was me at first, but you can only survive in that space of denial for so long, before life and growth requires you to expand. And the first step is developing the awareness and honesty with oneself.
Some of the limits I placed on myself include:
Limit 1- not taking full advantage of my day and claiming that I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to.
Limit 2 – Delaying traveling by myself because it’s more fun with others (Who’s more fun to me than me?? Tuh!)
Limit 3 – Not asking for help because I feel like I should be able to handle this (whatever ‘this’ is) on my own and feeling less capable because I did ask for help.
After identifying the above, I had to ask myself why I was trying to do things in this way? Why was I trying to live my life this way? And was there possibly another way, maybe the way that I may have been influenced to believe was not the “right” way?
Limit 1-Why do I feel I need to do a million things in one day? Why do I feel so bad when I’m not able to cross them off my list? Perhaps that list needs to be adjusted? Is that so terrible?
Limit 2 – Do I mind being by myself? Yes? Why? No ok let’s go – buying the plane ticket that I can afford.
Limit 3 – I started saying ‘this is too much’, ‘I feel overwhelmed’, ‘I need help’. Oddly enough my world did not blow up after I asked for help, and the only person looking at me with shame for asking for help was…me. Interesting.
Did all of this happen overnight? No, it did not. Identifying and addressing the limits I place on myself is currently ongoing and I don’t see an end anytime soon. I identify and smash limitations I’ve outgrown every day, because I made the commitment to myself to do so. And through my growing pains that’s one of the things I’ve re-discovered, in life, you must keep pushing forward in one direction or another in order to move in any direction.
It’s important to note, that having limits is not a ‘bad’ thing. Identifying and knowing your limits allows you to identify whether they are beneficial and serving a function in your life. Is that function helping or hindering you from moving in the direction you want to go in? That’s up to you to decide, because you are the one who get’s to choose which limits stay and which you need to get rid of. And you can choose whatever you want to be your limit, it doesn’t have to be the sky because that’s what everyone else seems to be aiming for. I want to know what’s beyond the sky.