Choices. Self imposed limitations, fears, responsibilities, and undefined dreams all are dependent on choice. Whenever someone starts a sentence with “I can’t because…” something triggers in my mind that flashes like an errant alarm system and I hear “You’re making a choice.”  But my kids are little. Yes they are and you’re making the choice to be devoted to them and use this window of time to parent, caretake, love, nurture and possibly even put your dreams on hold for a bit.  I can’t because of my job. Right again, but you’re still choosing to be there.  It may be because it’s the only job available where you live but it pays the bills and puts food on the table. My husband/wife/partner/mother/grand poobah won’t let me so I can’t.  The reality of that statement is that you’re choosing to give someone else control. Settling for the emptiness of “I can’t” sabotages creating the quality of life experiences you truly want.

As sensitive people we don’t want to hurt anyone.  We like calm and ease vs. discord and confrontation. We suck it up then bitch and complain that people are taking advantage. We beat ourselves up when the awareness hits that we’ve been manipulated or held in place by emotional marionette strings.  It’s embarrassing. Humbling. It can lead to waves of self depreciation and internal doubt. It can also become a cyclical pattern increasingly difficult to redirect.

There are natural and social limitations that can significantly and realistically impact areas of our lives. I have never been nor will I ever be a gymnast.  My high school had a highly competitive gymnastics team. Genetically those girls were on average eight inches shorter and at least fifty pounds lighter than my younger self.  No matter how much I may have wanted to be able to spin through the air with the greatest of ease, it wasn’t happening despite intensive practice as an integral part of the physical education curriculum. We won’t go into the psychological smack down for a shy, overweight kid standing in front of the uneven parallel bars during middle school gym class. That is a fun story for another day.

Internalizing social beliefs of what we are or are not equally dissuades us from grabbing for the brass ring. But the most debilitating are those limitations we impose upon ourselves through prior conditioning or acceptance that what someone else or society has inferred as a stereotype of our capabilities is our actual truth. Believing we can’t becomes the catalyst for lower self-esteem, blistered self-confidence, and a never ending cycle of comparing ourselves to others.

Stephanie Sammons, speaker, consultant, and best selling author of Linked to Influence, recommends the following 3 ways to break self-imposed limitations: Choose your challenge; Prepare; Enlist the help and support you need for accountability.  If it scares you or hits a nerve, you’re on your way to going deep enough to identify the real fear holding you back.  When limitations are viewed as a challenge, you have a stepping off point to build a strategy to move forward. Fear keeps us stuck in place.  The complacency of our comfort zone keeps us on the treadmill of indecision.

Our past does not have to dictate our future. When someone overcomes a visible handicap to achieve what appears to be insurmountable odds, we stand in awe honoring the courage, stamina, and persistence it took to overcome our perception of impossible. Yet we discount the inner strength it takes each of us to eradicate the stumbling blocks of old messages, expectations, disappointments, and programmed responses.

Choosing to co-create our reality through vision, intention, and conviction releases us from this repetitive self sabotage.  Identify an issue you feel is holding you back from what you really want to manifest in your life.  Begin by addressing the feelings or perceptions. ” I am worried about financial security.” Next, address the thoughts and beliefs associated with this limitation.  “I’ll make the wrong decision and I’ll regret it.” Lastly, do something by setting an intention.  “I am creating a sense of stability by actively managing my business.” This approach works for any area of your life albeit social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or financial. When you take back responsibility for where your life is now or is heading, there is no longer the excuse of “I’ve tried everything”.  There are always more options.  They may suck, but there are options.  Write down all the things you’ve tried to resolve an issue.  Seeing it in black and white may trigger a solution or new way of seeing things.  It also takes away the luxury of being lazy and playing the victim.

Sidney Portier, the incredibly gifted and charismatic actor, was born prematurely to a poor farming family in the Bahamas. As a young boy with a penchant for getting into trouble, his parents sent him to live with his older brother in Miami. At 16, Sidney left and moved to NYC where he was eventually able to audition for the American Negro Theater. During his first audition he was rejected due to his thick Caribbean accent and was told to give it up and go wash dishes. Instead, he worked as a janitor in exchange for acting lessons.  During this time he also watched news reporters to improve the tone, inflection, and cadence of his speaking voice. In 1964, Sir Sidney Portier became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for best actor.

Becoming clear on what you really want and taking the steps to making that intention a reality is how to break free from the limitations you are allowing to hold you back. If you struggle to even define what it is you truly do want, begin by calming and slowing your thoughts. Meditate. Decide what you don’t want. Relax. If you’re feeling ready to implode and are so overwhelmed, exercise can lead to relaxation and helps with discernment. Practice visualizing and feeling a clear mental picture of your desired outcome. Imagination is one of the strongest tools we possess.  Asking yourself questions you would ask a friend you were trying to help can lead you closer to your truth. Focus on the positive.  I’ve mentioned this before but the power of stating your truth with the affirmations of “I am ” messages is life changing and empowering.