What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

What Are You Allowing Your Life To Become?

I was THIS close.

Many years ago I found myself in position to do something rather unlikely. I was about to beat Russ Lavoie in a tennis match. Unlikely, because, well, I sucked at playing tennis. Russ didn’t suck at tennis. Russ was very good at tennis. He took lessons. He had a coach. He had great equipment. He even had the proper tennis clothing. But there I was, with a borrowed racket, an Aerosmith T-shirt, and a pair of Converse All-Stars, on the cusp of beating the best tennis player I knew.

But then I didn’t.

It started as us just lobbing the ball back and forth. Russ’ dad was there, a rather intense man, and he wanted to make it more meaningful. “Let’s make this a real match.” Right from the start I was outperforming Russ. I don’t even think I knew how to keep score in tennis. But Russ’ dad did, and boy did he enjoy reminding his son that the kid in the Converse All-Stars was getting the best of him. Sort of his way of motivating Russ. And demotivating me at the same time.

To say I was playing way over my head would be an understatement. With no training or coaching somehow I was holding my own and winning far more games than I though possible for me. I was actually up two sets to none, needing just one more set to win the match. As Russ’ dad would remind him he was getting beat by me, as in the me who should never be able to beat a trained and well-coached tennis player, it got me to thinking that maybe I really shouldn’t be able to do what I was doing after all. Maybe dad was right. And eventually I proved him to be so, dropping the last three sets of the match and saving Russ from certain parental humiliation. 

Yes, Russ beat me, but on some level I had actually beaten myself.

I thought of this experience when I was reviewing the past year of my life. It’s become a tradition of sorts in the weeks just before my birthday. I conduct a review of the past 12 months. The highlights as well as the lowlights. How did I spend my time? Intentionally or reactionary? Of the things I told myself I wanted to do during the year, what did I actually accomplish and what didn’t I get done?

Overall, it was a very good year of personal growth. But I always have a question for the items on the What Didn’t Get Done list. “Why not?” Why didn’t I get this done? Sometimes there are external factors involved. Sometimes in hindsight I realize I actually didn’t want to accomplish what I told myself I did. Sometimes, though, the painfully honest reason things didn’t get accomplished is I simply didn’t allow myself to.

We can set very specific goals with the absolute most perfect of intentions and develop and implement a consistent action plan to achieve them. But unless we allow ourselves to achieve them we never will.

In my mind, even though I was just a few points away from beating Russ, on some level I knew I wasn’t supposed to. The image and expectations I held for me was inconsistent with what I was accomplishing. At some point the inner voice always wins and we adjust our actions and behaviors accordingly. I told myself I wasn’t supposed to win. And I didn’t.

I found in this year’s annual review some of the things I didn’t accomplish were, in fact, because I didn’t allow myself to accomplish them. The person I would have been had I actually accomplished my goals was different from the person I accepted myself to be. Even with clarity of purpose and actionable intentions, I was unable to sustain the momentum needed to meet my objective. It wasn’t a lack of opportunity or tools or information which did me in. It never is. I wasn’t going to allow certain things to happen. 

I’ve become quite comfortable having uncomfortable conversations with myself. Those deep, honest, introspective conversations, free of judgment or blame. Because until I am willing to get to know the deepest me I will never be able to get to the places I know I tell myself I want to go. These conversations uncover the psychological and emotional roadblocks to me moving ever forward. They show me the self-imposed limitations, the walls and fences I’ve subconsciously built to keep myself tethered to what is and keeping me from what could be.

We will never become more than we are willing to allow ourselves to become.

In an unlimited world we all have our own degree of limitations. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what is important is acknowledging that they are actually there. Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation is often very uncomfortable. It requires a level of responsibility and accountability. Who readily accepts the blame that they aren’t where they could have possibly been in their lives?

Knowing you have accepted some level of limitation, though, is also very empowering. Because that’s the starting point to moving past them. If you don’t know you’re stuck, how will you ever unstuck yourself? How will you ever grow forward?

Most of the limits we have are silent, stealthily working behind the scenes keeping us aligned with who it is we tell ourselves we really are. They show up in our habits and behaviors, regulated by the expectations we have set for ourselves. It’s the reason why I’ve never kept off those last 10 pounds, or taken full advantage of certain opportunities I’ve had in my life. 

I never allowed myself to do so.

When you look at the highest vision of your life, what’s preventing you from being all that you envision your life could be? Is it the stuff outside of you or is there a little voice telling you that no matter how clear your vision is you’re simply never going to allow yourself to become it?

It’s not an easy conversation to have with yourself. But it’s the only way to move closer to becoming all you were created to become.

And I’m moving closer.

It’s a great day to be you.

photo credit: Aaron Clinard via Unsplash

The Art Of Working Against Yourself

The Art Of Working Against Yourself

Maggie and Watson never like to stay in the yard. Our two strong and high energy dogs love to run free chasing whatever they are chasing. Sometimes they are just running for the sake of running. In our fenceless neighborhood, the dogs have no idea where our yard ends and the neighbor’s yard begins. They see no limits or boundaries. They just run.

Recently, we looked into installing an invisible fence, for their protection and our neighbor’s peace of mind. The technology is quite impressive. We define the parameters of where the dogs are free to run, and to condition them where their boundaries are a small device on their collars emits an uncomfortable charge as they get closer to the limits of their space. In time, the conditioning helps Maggie & Watson know their limitations almost instinctively. They’ll know how far they can go.

Kind of like us humans.

And we don’t even need a collar.

The greatest thing standing between where we are and where we want to be in life are the limitations we set for ourselves. The limitations we’ve conditioned ourselves to accept as true. Through the course of our lives we’ve set our own boundaries for how much we are willing to allow to be possible for us. Much like that invisible fence prevents the dogs from running free, our thoughts, both consciously and unconsciously, tend to keep us in our own yard, a fixed space that keeps us exactly where we are.

Understanding your limitations often requires you to look at your life from a different perspective. I never knew I had limitations, simply because I never thought I had anything to do with why my life wasn’t where I had wanted it to be. Blame is far easier than acceptance. How could I be undermining my own growth and evolution? Why would I do that to myself? Yet when I was able to step back and observe and listen to the stories I was telling myself, I could actually see how I had unintentionally constructed my own invisible fence of limitation.

Those stories of lack and shortage and unworthiness become hard wired into our emotional DNA every time we speak them to ourselves. And like the invisible fence, our thoughts train us as to where we will allow ourselves to go in life. We may see exactly where we want to be yet we’ll never let ourselves get there. All because of the limiting stories we repeatedly and often unconsciously tell ourself.

I’ve felt the inner conflict between what I told myself I wanted and what I was willing to allow myself to receive. The same mind which could envision the future of my dreams was the same mind working to convince me I would never attain it. I knew what I wanted for me but I would always find ways to make sure it never materialized. Until I started listening I had no idea this limiting and conflicting dialog was actually taking place.

Recognizing this conflict was my starting point in changing the stories I was telling myself. Our subconscious doesn’t care what we think about who we are. It just reinforces what we tell it and always finds ways for us to remain exactly where we’ve told ourselves we belong, even if we don’t want to be there. Abundance or lack. Worthy or unworthy. Your story is your story and you’ll never out run it or out work it.

The good news is we can always change the stories we tell ourselves.

So, what about you? What are some of the stories you tell you about you? Do you see yourself worthy to receive the unlimited abundance which is all around you? Or does life feel stuck and you’ve accepted that what is will always be?

Listen to those voices in your head. Step outside of you and just listen to what you say to yourself, especially when life gets challenging. Self awareness is the critical first step in understanding where you actually are in your life, and once you understand where you are it’s much easier to get to where you really want to go.

If you want a different life you need to tell yourself the stories that will make such a life possible.

And it’s possible.

It’s a great day to be you!

The Inheritance of Limitation

The Inheritance of Limitation

“So much for going for a small role, huh Dad?”

Her face was fully aglow from the brightness of the iPhone as she read the email. And in an instant the size of her eyes doubled.

She got the part.

My daughter auditioned for a rather important part in her school’s drama club performance of “Willy Wonka”. This being her first year in this new school, she would be competing with seasoned students, more well-known to those who make the ultimate decision as to who gets selected for the roles. And since she has never been in a school play before, I had actually tried to convince her to try out for a smaller, less visible role.

Something safer.

She didn’t quite see it that way.

One of the countless joys of being around my daughter is her blissful enthusiasm. Continue reading “The Inheritance of Limitation”

God’s Night Club And The Velvet Rope of Doubt

Perhaps this has happened to you?

It’s Saturday night and you’re standing in the long line outside the hottest night club in town. There’s the muscle-bound bouncer, dressed in his crisp-yet-slightly-too-small tuxedo, clipboard in his hand. On the clipboard is the guest list with the names of the “important” people, the chosen few who will be escorted directly into the club upon their arrival.

The not-so-important people? They remain queued up in a corral of velvet ropes, anxiously hopeful the man with the muscles and the clipboard will somehow lower the velvet rope and allow them entry as well.

Heck of a way to spend a night.

Hell of a way to spend a life.

Many of us have places we’d like to go in life. Things we’d like to do. Things we’d like to become. But somehow we’re not moving forward. It’s as if Continue reading “God’s Night Club And The Velvet Rope of Doubt”