Arguing for your limitations? Five ways to change your view of yourself

What are you struggling with? What do you need to overcome to succeed, or to improve, be the person you really want to be? The person you could be?

Do you find yourself arguing for your limitations?

There’s a famous quote:

“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” ~ Richard Bach

Why do we do this? You know the drill…someone asks you to do something, or suggests you’d be perfect for…(fill in the blank) and you go into a litany of reasons why you aren’t the right person for the job; why you can’t do this thing now…you have to finish training, or the time isn’t right, or you’re a terrible speaker / writer. Or maybe the problem is you’re not creative; or you’re too busy?

The more you talk, the more you convince yourself, and everyone around you, that you really aren’t the right person to take on this challenge. And then…you did it…you successfully argued for your limitations, and now you own them.

And how does that feel?

I’m not talking about being modest or appropriate about talking up your abilities. There are big differences between bragging and having confidence. You can be intimidated, feel challenged by a situation, and still rise to the occasion.

I’d rather acknowledge I’m trying to do something, but can’t guarantee success, than limit myself by refusing to try.

That’s what I’m talking about here. Trying, even when you can’t guarantee success.

That’s what leads to success…in life, in relationships, in business. I’m not talking about taking fool hardy risks, or saying you can do something you know is beyond you. For example, I work in health care administration. I’m not going to offer to work on the clinical side. I know I’m not suited or trained to be in that environment. That’s a different type of limitation, one that’s both practical and realistic, for me.

But there are plenty of challenges in the world I’m suited to, tasks that require me to step up, hone my skills, learn something new. That’s what I’m talking about…looking for ways to grow yourself that are doable and feasible, and yet expansive.

When you succeed at a task that’s a bit beyond your current abilities, do you know what happens? Your confidence grows exponentially, much more than the actual achievement of the task might warrant. But what’s really happened isn’t so much that you accomplished a task.

What’s really happened is you found a new way to see yourself. You see yourself as a can-do, rather than someone who can’t.

So how can you foster this on a regular basis? What can you do to see a new you? These are five steps to change who you see in the mirror:

  1. Set your goals beyond your achievements. If you don’t reach beyond what you’ve already achieved, you won’t grow. When you go beyond what you’ve accomplished so far, you’ll see yourself as maturing, improving, evolving. That’s a great self-image to cultivate.
  2. Learn every day. Literally, have a book or two, a podcast, a blogger you follow…some tool, or multiple tools, you use every day to broaden your horizons. There’s so much free content online, for almost any subject you can think of. But free or not, digital or physical, find a way to learn that’s easy to incorporate into your day.
  3. Log your growth. Keep up with skills, resources, and challenges you’re working on. With every new thing you conquer, you’ll see opportunities. Or you may have a chance to pass on a great resource to someone else.
  4. Be generous with what you learn. I belong to several Facebook groups where questions are posted among group members, covering everything from tech to personal preferences of book covers, and all things pertinent to blogging, writing and self-publishing. I can’t comment intelligently on everything, but when I have an opinion or knowledge of a subject and think I can add to the discussion, I take a minute to share my thoughts. It’s a small way of giving back. Or you might volunteer your skills for your neighborhood, a social community, your church, your child’s classroom…look for places and people to serve. A nice side-note…by being generous, you may find you’ve created opportunity for yourself, either in a business venture, or by creating a friendship that grows out of your kindness.
  5. See yourself as capable. Cultivate this view of yourself until it becomes genuine. When you step up to a challenge, you’ll see yourself as strong, even brave. You’ll recognize you went beyond your comfort zone. Your confidence will surge from seeing your accomplishments. You’ll feel proud of how far you’ve come, now that you’re able to do (fill in your blank) and you’ll begin to see yourself in a new light. One thing I say to myself over and over, when I find myself feeling a little scared to take a new step, or deal with someone who intimidates me: I remind myself I’m an adult, and I can do hard things. (Thank you Patti Henry!) I am response-able. I’m capable. And then I do the thing that intimidates me, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

There’s no doubt when you spread your wings, test your abilities, there’ll be times you fall flat. Well, sometimes life happens, right?

But even failing gives new information, new experience, and maybe wisdom to succeed on the next try.

So what about you? Are you arguing for your limitations?

I’m trying to stop arguing for mine. Join me in stepping up, being brave?

~ Sheila

I’ve chosen my purpose, and you can too. Lean how:  Choose Your Purpose, Love Your Life


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