Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How To Stop Limiting Yourself: Three Keys

No Limits (Reset album)Image via WikipediaBy Alan Allard

Most people will admit to having more potential than their lives or careers show. They know on some level that they are far more capable than they have been giving themselves credit for.

They know they have something "bigger" to offer the world but maybe they haven't quite figured out what it is or how to bring it about.

What keeps us from thinking bigger and taking consistent action toward what we say we want and what we know deep down we are capable of? Can we play a bigger game and have more fun and fulfillment than we think we can? Can we become more than we thought possible?

Are we fooling ourselves when we have visions of something far greater than we have yet to realize? Or must we settle for what is and accept it as reality?

What do you think? Here are my thoughts:
  • Most Limitations Are Self-Imposed - They Come From Within
The next time you think you cannot be or do something, realize you impose that on yourself. It's easy to do because you learned how to limit yourself from others early on. It's almost certain that you learned to think that you cannot be or do something from someone else; perhaps a parent, sibling, friend, teacher or authority figure.

But once you learned to limit yourself by taking on the opinion of an outside source, you are the one that keeps it alive. If you have a healthy brain, whatever you think is possible for yourself or whatever you think is not possible for yourself is now on you. Your limitations are self-imposed.
  • Isn't It Time To Question Your "Limitations"
Most people have the habit of responding to a limiting thought or belief with automatic acceptance; it is a mental reflex. Why? Somewhere along the way they "learned" from others that they were limited in terms of who they could become or what they could do.

Isn't it time to notice when you do that and to begin to question what you learned long ago and now hold as the "truth" about you? Just because you believe something now doesn't mean you have to believe it five minutes from now.

When you feel stuck or held back from something you want to change or to begin being or doing, identify the self-imposed belief that tells you you are limited in some way. Ask yourself the simple question "How do I know I can't?" When your subconscious gives you the automatic answer, don't just accept it. Keep probing. Keep the discussion going until you realize the limitation is an illusion.
  • Take A Small Step Outside The Borders Of Your Limiting Thinking And Behavior
If you ask yourself "How do I know I can't?"you will take a small step to go beyond past limited thinking. After that question, ask yourself "How can I do this?" when you think about what you want to do. Take the small but powerful step of looking for solutions or innovations.

Then take action, no matter how small. When someone who is afraid of public speaking joins Toastmasters and gives their first 60 second "speech," they are taking a small step into a new reality they are creating for themselves.

You have to start somewhere. Taking the first small step begins to redefine what you think is possible for yourself. The small step is the process of questioning your self-imposed limitations instead of automatically accepting them.

You can do more than you think you can. You can be more than you imagine today.

We can complain about the economy, our boss, our parents, our financial situation, our bodies and our age. We can say we are too young or too old, not experienced enough or too experienced. The last one is a common complaint of many job seekers; "I wasn't hired because I am overqualified."

All the above are self-imposed limitations. They are figments of our imagination. Are some jobseekers rejected because they are overqualified? Yes. Maybe many. But if that is what the jobseeker focuses on, they will take that into every interview and talk the hiring manager out of making them an offer. Their self-imposed limitations will become their self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Nobody will hire me because I'm too young and inexperienced."

"My boss will not promote me because I am too young and too inexperienced."

"I can't get a better job because of the economy."

Switching gears, what about self-imposed limitations outside of work?

"I can't lose weight."

"I can't find the love of my life."

"I can't be happy in my current relationship."

"I can't be happy until I..."

It's time to take a small step outside of these self-imposed limitations.

"How do I know I can't do ___?"

There are some real limitations. Just not the ones we usually entertain. The ones we entertain are almost always self-imposed.

We know that because there are always a small percentage of people who don't entertain the limitations going on inside our heads. They are entertaining quite different thoughts and beliefs. If they can think differently, everybody can.

The key word in "self-limiting thoughts" is the first word: Self.

Are you limiting yourself? If so, you can do something about it.

Alan is a coach, consultant, speaker, trainer and writer and the author of the e-book "Mental Aikido: Rediscover Your Powerful Self," a story about resilience and mastery in times of change, uncertainty and pressure.

Alan works with individuals and companies to dramatically increase performance levels, sense of fulfillment and happiness at work and in life. He has a master's degree in Counseling and is a former psychotherapist and has spoken across North America on performance improvement, emotional intelligence and has been quoted in media outlets such as The New York Times, New York Post and The California Executive and BNET.com

Sign up for his free special report "How To Thrive Under Pressure: Three Strategies For Exceptional Performance: at http://www.alanallard.com

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