I've been called many things (some I won’t repeat 😉), but lately I’ve received a number of messages and emails calling me some version of “fearless" and/or "determined,” and asking me how I became that way.
Here’s the thing - I believe we’re ALL fearless and determined deep inside.
It’s just a matter of getting past the limits we place on ourselves.
You read that right – the limits we place on ourselves.
Of course, some limits are undeniably physical or clinically psychological, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I’m talking about are the limits in our minds that tell us what we “should” do, what we “shouldn’t” do, and what “there’s no way in hell we’ll ever be capable of doing.”
Those nasty limits.
I believe with all my heart that those nasty limits are self-imposed. They come from our belief that there is a pre-scripted way things SHOULD be done. That belief is based largely on three things:
The way we see other people doing things,
The way things “have always been done,” or
The way other people tell us we should do things.
The key is this- It’s not any of these three things that actually limits us. For instance, what other people say we should do isn't what limits us, it’s OUR BELIEF that those people are right.
Let that sink in for a second.
The distinction can take a minute to see, but it’s so important, and here’s why-
We can't control the limitations society or other people try to place us, but we CAN control what we believe about those limitations.
Can I get a hell yes?!
It’s time for us to re-evaluate all those “should’s” that we're allowing to limit our dreams so we can decide FOR OURSELVES if they apply to OUR vision of who we want to be.
I say this as if it’s simple, but it’s not. Those “shoulds” are sometimes so deeply ingrained in us that it takes a ton of conscious effort over a good amount of time to unearth them and work through them.
But becoming aware of the “should’s” is the first step, because
Awareness creates the momentum that sets our growth in motion.
I’ve shared a bit about my dad- what he was to me, and how losing him last year completely shut me down. For so many of us, our parents have a profound impact on our development on every level.
If you’ve read my novel, AND THEN SHE FLEW, you already know my dad to some degree. Anna’s father's character, Raymond Cunningham, was inspired by my dad.
I often say my dad “built my wings.”
I mean that figuratively, of course, as he was the one who taught me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to.
He taught me to question everything, and that it’s ok to be different. According to my dad-
Not only is it “ok” to be different, it’s the best possible way to be!
But when I say my dad “built my wings,” I also mean it literally, because not only did he teach me to believe in myself, HE also believed in me 100%. So much so, that when I told him I believed I could fly, he literally built me wings to practice- Beautiful orange and black, balsa wood-framed cardboard wings with straps to hold them on my arms as I “flew.”
And because he believed so strongly in me, there was a part of me that, no matter how bad things got in my life, deep inside I knew I would somehow always find a way to make it better.
It was my dad’s belief in me, more than my own belief in myself, that got me through all the years of following the unfulfilling path of “shoulds.”
My dad saw life as limitless, and he taught me to ask “why” before just assuming I “should” do something. Because of this, those “should’s” always seemed vague to me, like an image in a movie that flashes on and off but never really materializes. I would do as expected, all the while fighting a subtle feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach.
That sick feeling was my soul quitetly whispering “no.”
It took losing my dad for his lessons to finally materialize for me. Those last few hours I spent with him forever changed me.
It took the most intense pain of my life for me to finally see clearly that I have a choice in what I “should” do, and that I can decide FOR MYSELF what my limits are. And once I stopped imposing all the "should's" on myself, I realized that my dad was right- life truly is limitless.
As I said, it’s not a simple concept. It took four decades of my dad constantly planting that seed in my mind, then losing him, for me to finally understand.
I’ll be breaking this down bit by bit on my blog over the coming weeks as we head into the new year, because I, for one, want to enter 2020 as limitless and empowered as I can.
I want that for you too.
So let’s do this.