Friday, August 14, 2009

NO (self-imposed) LIMITS

I HATE limitations, both acknowledging that they exist and bowing to them. Of course, some limitations are real and must be respected. I can't spend time in the sun, for instance, because it gives me an auto-immune reaction. I can't eat whatever I want and expect my blood sugar to remain within normal limits because I have diabetes. (I can't eat a fraction of what I want and expect to remain thin because I am over 50 and have the metabolism of a dead slug!)

Be that as it may, there are many limitations that are NOT based in reality, limitations we place upon ourselves or allow others to place upon us. These can and need to be challenged if we are to reach our true potential and make the most of our humanity. Whether we or others fashion the boxes we too often live in, the result is the same: relative inertia. Being or feeling stuck is no fun, but happily, there is an antidote...one we already carry with us. It doesn't have to be ordered, mixed or measured...ingested, digested or safety-tested. It's part of our intrinsic make-up. In other words, it comes with that amazingly versatile package we call "self," and most of us are already aware of its existence. Regrettably, we are usually limited (there's that word again!) in its use.

What are we talking about? Free will. Pure and simple. We've all got it, but from the day we are born we and others begin placing constraints upon it. Of course, many of these restraints are good and necessary. But more than a few of them never were or are not now necessary. And it's up to us to figure out the difference. (Prayer helps in this process, for no one is more aware of our limitless potential than the Lord. And no one is more interested in our fulfillment of that potential.)

Here's some food for thought:

Why are adult elephants successfully tied with only a lightweight chain, one they could easily break? The answer is simple, but has profound implications. As babies, they are restrained by a very heavy chain on one foot, from which they cannot break loose. As they grew older, they do not forget this "lesson." Eventually, the chain of their (faulty) perception of not being able to break free is enough to hold them.

In one experiment, a barracuda was separated from minnows in a water tank by clear plastic. Initially, the barracuda (in search of a good meal) kept crashing into the clear plastic. The researchers learned, however, that after repeated failures to penetrate this invisible wall, the barracuda kept swimming in its own area indefinitely, even after the clear plastic was removed.

What false limitations are implanted in our psyches by ourselves or others? What imaginary bounds do we experience as impenetrable walls or unbreakable chains? Perhaps it would be a good idea to reassess, even challenge our own premises once in a while, especially those that govern the limitations we impose upon ourselves. I'm in that process right now, and it feels pretty good.

Kinda like spring cleaning in the summer.

=)

3 comments:

karen said...

What a good message for me to read today! I'm guilty of this all the time. I'm trying to stretch my wings a bit, and not be stuck in the same little box all the time. Sometimes its a little painful, but then, muscles do get a little sore when you haven't used them in awhile! Thanks for the reminder and the call to action!

Katie Blacker said...

this is great advice for everyone. It is so important to always challenge ourselves or else, we become bored, or worse, boring!

KC Mom said...

You've got me pegged on this one. I truly have set my own limitations for so many years that I am truly the barracuda.
Mix in a little low self-esteem and you've got a caged bird who won't go anywhere.
Instead I lash out in anger at everyone. Sigh.
By the way, I got my amazing cards in the mail the day before I left!! Thank you so much! They are so adorable!

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