When I was younger, all through school, I had a terrible time with math. Every time I looked at an equation I would immediately feel overwhelmed and confused. I struggled with, even avoided, math at all costs. When I was assigned math as homework or had an upcoming test, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Many evenings were spent with tears staining pages and pencils flying through the air. When it came to math, I always thought I would fail at it no matter how hard I tried. Although I didn’t fail, I did scrape by with minimal marks and putting in minimal effort. Math was my arch-enemy, my living hell. To make matters worse math was compulsory in high school, every year for four years I would work myself into a frenzy over homework assignments or upcoming tests.
It wasn’t until years later when I made the decision to upgrade my education, that I was faced with the dreaded challenge again. Determined to face my nemesis, I enrolled in a class called ‘math for everyday living’. This class took the math that had tortured me throughout my younger academic years and turned it into a useful tool. It taught students the ways in which complicated math equations were used in everyday life and it ended up being the class that changed my outlook on the subject, and my life.
It sounds silly to say that a math class changed my life but it truly did. It was through this math class that I realized I had limited myself for so many years. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the math, quite the contrary, actually. Instead, I realized that I had created a wall in my mind – convincing myself that I was incapable of success.
Once I realized that is was my own limiting beliefs that were holding me back, not my inability, I began to see other areas in my life where the same self-imposed limitations existed.
“It was a sobering thought to realize that the only thing that had stopped me was myself.”
Thanks to this newfound awareness I managed to successfully complete the math course, passing with an impressive mark – not to brag. This class was that catalyst that encouraged me to break free of the chains of my self-limiting beliefs and try things I never thought I could do. Today, I am no mathematician and I don’t aspire to be. I still have a long way to go, both in math and self-awareness, but it is a journey that I have enjoyed immensely and one that has taught me a great deal.
Why you are your own worst enemy…
One needs only to look at a young child at play to see the way self-limitations affect our lives and overall happiness. Children are born free of limitations, they live contentedly with the belief that they can be anything or do anything they want, especially when they are young. After all, they easily mastered walking and talking, as well as other amazing milestones in their early years. They have managed to capture endless amounts of attention from the adults in their lives without much effort at all and have manipulated that attention to get what they need to not only survive but thrive. To young children, the world is full of possibilities and the only limit is their overactive imaginations.
As we grow we tend to lose our sense of freedom and possibility somewhere along the way. Our imaginations are toned down by well-intentioned parents and teachers who are trying to teach us how to grow-up and become responsible adults one day. Sadly, it is through these well-intentions that this loss of our imaginary worlds takes place and we start to impose these self-limitations. The adults around us, unknowingly, play a huge role in this with their helpful advice and criticisms and over time it takes its toll, causing us to second-guess our abilities.
If we want to succeed, really succeed, we must first rid ourselves of our belief that we can not succeed.
Now, of course, changing the way you think is not going to guarantee you success. obviously. Goals take hard work and determination but every goal is possible to achieve, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. In the end, it may not look as it did in the beginning, but you will know you have achieved what you set out to do, no matter the form it takes on.
Imagine if your favorite actor, writer or celebrity listened to that little voice of doubt and gave up on their dream. Imagine if Einstein gave into self-doubt. Every successful person has faced criticism at some point, every successful person has doubted their ability to succeed. What sets them apart from others is simply that they did not give up. They clung to their belief that they could succeed, no matter what.
While in University I had to overcome major obstacles. I discovered I was pregnant in my first year. I gave birth to a baby who ended up having a rare chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18. I suffered health issues and was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had everything going against me, every reason to give up, but I did not quit.
So how do you change your way of thinking?
Well, practice for starters… and a few simple tools.
The first step it is to find the areas where you are limiting yourself the most. Some of the most common areas for self-imposed limitations are; education, career, talents, goals, dating, and relationships. Once you have figured out where you are limiting yourself the best thing you can do it STOP.
Okay, so that just seems to simple, right? Wrong. The truth is, it is that simple. Every time you catch yourself saying, or thinking, you can’t do something, STOP and ask yourself ‘Why?’ When we begin to question our limitations we begin to challenge our minds. Ask your mind what it is exactly that is stopping you from being able to do this thing you think you can’t. Chances are you won’t have a really legitimate excuse. You might say, ‘well I tried before and I failed’, or ‘I just don’t have that talent or ability’ but those are not legitimate excuses, they are not reasons to give up.
Great musicians were not born with their gifts, I am sure that Jimmy Hendrix’s mother would tell you he was not always a prodigy and that earplugs were a required utility in their house at one time.
No one wakes up an expert, it takes time to learn, and even more, time to become successful at it. So get out there and get working. Take big, daunting tasks and break them down into smaller more manageable ones. Often times being able to see the road in front of you makes you more comfortable for the journey ahead.
You would not drive blind, so why try to take on a dream unprepared?
Once you are able to accept that it is YOU holding you back from success, you will be able to step out of your own way and move forward. This realization is an astounding one but it is 100% true. Other people have accomplished their big goals, some of them have even accomplished YOUR big goals, so give me one good reason you can’t?
Until Next Time,
Aim For The Stars.