Limitations Are in the Eye of the Beholder

What any one person is capable of is entirely up to them.

A limitation is a rule or a restriction set by someone in an attempt to stop you from doing something and usually follows the words: you can't or you shouldn't. This isn't to be confused with laws that are intended to keep you safe, and that everyone has to follow such as obeying the speeding limit or refraining committing murder when you get really angry. A damaging personal limitation, whether set by you or by someone else, prevents you from living life fully.

Limitations that are short term rarely have any kind of negative impact, but long term limitations can create deep emotional blocks that are difficult to recognize. Sometimes these long term limitations are set by people who believe they are trying to keep you safe from harm, but good intentions can, and often do, have the opposite outcome.

Limitations are only attitudes. Beliefs. Limitations stem from a fear that a particular outcome might happen if a particular boundary is breached. If you do such and such, then this might happen. The key word in that idea is might, and the thing about might is it also might not.

Limiting thoughts go something like this:

"Unless I have ------------, I can't do -----------"

"I'm not allowed to -----------, because --------------------"

"The ---------------- said I couldn't -------------- or --------------- will happen"

Limitations are also passed down from one generation to another.

"We are poor, and poor people ------------"

"We come from a long line of -------------, and our family will always be -------------"

If someone set a limitation for you in an attempt to keep you from harm, did they really mean for this to be a life long rule? Does it make sense to you today to continue to hold on to that particular limitation?

Limitations are often set by a person you believe to be an authority figure of some kind - a parent, teacher, coach, religious leader, law maker, doctor, or other person who holds a title of some kind. Depending on your personal belief about authority, the limitation may be attached to an undesirable consequence in your mind. That consequence may have made sense at one point in your life, but is it true today? For example, when you were little, a limitation was set and the consequence may have been a form of punishment that you wanted to avoid at all costs. When I was little for example, the consequence of not doing what I was told was a spanking and I definitely wanted to avoid that.

Let me give you an example limitations that were set for me by people who had really good intentions. As it turned out, the limitations that were set not only changed when new information became available, they were presented in a manner that created emotional blocks that kept me from enjoying life for many years. No one intended for this to happen, but the fear of the consequences they suggested would happen if I disobeyed these limitations created a fear block that I didn't become aware of for decades.

I've had multiple orthopedic surgeries in my life to keep me pain free and walking. Each time I had surgery, my skeletal structure was altered in an attempt to get my hip socket as close to normal as possible. The intent was to alleviate pain more than to keep me mobile, but maintaining a certain level of mobility was also a goal. After each surgery, I was given a long list of things I should never do, and told these limitations would apply for life. Life.

Some things on the list made perfect sense, but others.....not so much. The consequence, I was told, of not obeying these limitations was that I'd never walk again. I was only 14 when I started having major hip surgeries, so the combination of the initial shock and pain from the surgery itself , the emotional trauma of the entire event, and the fear of having to undergo more surgeries was enough to keep me from disobeying the limitations, never mind the thought of being in a wheelchair for life. I wonder now if the threat was made as extreme as possible because I was a 'teenager', and teenagers never do what they are told.

Short term limitations were always different depending on the particular surgeon, and I had several different surgeons before I was 25 years old. Even though I heard these different opinions from several different surgeons, it didn't occur to me until many years later that these were opinions and not facts. It didn't occur to me to question anything really, because the looming threat of never walking again if I disobeyed in any way was always in the back of my mind and something I truly wanted to avoid.

Facts change when more information becomes available, and the limitations that were commonplace when I first started having surgery, are not even considered by surgeons today. Medical facts, like all scientific facts, change when new information comes to light. New medical procedures and techniques are developed with new information. It's how everything progresses.

Fear and pain are very powerful motivators and the threat of one or both is often used when people are setting limitations for you. I was very determined to delay pain and further surgery for as long as possible, so I worked hard to keep myself mobile by exercising within their guidelines, eating as best as I could with the knowledge I had at the time, keeping extra weight off, and learning as much as I could about not only my personal deformity, but in the human body in general. With continued education, I came to a different understanding about my particular condition. I started thinking about how muscles moved in relation to my own body, and I learned how to listen to what my body was telling me through various signals.

It turned out that I could do things that I thought I'd never be able to do. Looking after myself, my house and yard was substantially easier; I could walk considerably further than I had been able to for many years and I felt free. I was able to hike all kinds of trails in Banff and Jasper National Parks, and I canoed in Emerald Lake in Kootenay National Park. (My first canoeing experience in grade 7 was not exactly a good one and I was terrified to ever try it again).

I was experiencing life like I had never done before, and it was all due to letting go of the limitations I thought I had to keep for life. I was enjoying a new found freedom and strength that I never thought possible. Part of me felt extremely accomplished and alive, and part of me was angry that I had missed out on so much of life because I accepted the limitations that others set for me.

Several years later, I required extensive reconstructive surgery again. This particular surgery was very different from all the other surgeries for several reasons, but the most important difference I want to point out, is that the very talented and gifted surgeon I was blessed to have never once said I couldn't do anything or set any limitations whatsoever. This was very different from any previous experience I had, and it got me thinking. I asked him questions as to whether I would be able to do this or that and his reply was always the same. "I don't know - anything is possible." Today, I know that I will accomplish whatever it is I believe I can do.

Limitations are in the eye of the beholder. Whatever you believe will become the truth for you. Think about the limitations you believe you have in your life and ask yourself where the idea came from in the first place.

When you are ready to let go of limiting thoughts your life will start to change. Take charge of your own thoughts. Learn what is reasonable and what isn't for you.

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