Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Mantra: The Limits We Place On Ourselves

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: If you want to be free, be free

Freedom is a state of mind

Every once in a while I find myself facing a self imposed limit that I've put on myself for no solid reason at all. It can be anything from reaching a certain number of travel destinations to when I think I should be married and having kids. It's easy, oh-so easy, to get caught up in all the different timelines. Those timelines - those limits - that come from outside pressures or beliefs, not within, are the ones that will get you every time. They've certainly gotten me.

When I was four, I told my mom (with all the seriousness my little four year old self could muster) that I would not be getting married or having kids until I was in my 30's. I was dead set on this. Young love hit me hard and fast, though. I got engaged in high school (we eventually broke up) and got married in my early twenties (we eventually got divorced).

So why didn't I listen to what I always knew, deep down inside? Limits. Stupid, self imposed, not-paying-attention-to-my-gut-instincts limits.

I got engaged when I was a teenager because it was romantic and yes, we were crazy in love, but also because it seemed like this was just what people did. I lived in a small town. Everyone I knew was either getting engaged or getting married as soon as they graduated. I placed a limit on myself - tying myself to what I knew - because everything outside of what I knew was too scary to face. Being on my own was scary. College was scary. The big city was scary. Everything was absolutely terrifying. I let that fear limit me until one day I couldn't take it any more.

The beauty of getting past your limits is realizing how strong you are. How truly incredible your life can be if only you'll let it. If the Me Right Now, right here typing this, could travel back in time to Small Town Me of my high school days, well, let's just say I would shock the heck out of myself. Not only did I leave that small town behind (don't get me wrong, I'm very fond of it and I visit often), but I learned how to take care of myself without needing anyone else. I learned how to be okay being alone. I learned that not only was I wrong about the big city, I was wrong about the world. It was not so terrifying after all. In fact, it was fascinating. So much so that I've traveled all over it. Places the younger version of me would never have dared to dream, never have ventured. All because of self imposed limits.

Lessons aren't always learned the first time, though.

In my twenties, when I did get married, it was for a variety of reasons. Sure, there was love, but there were other things too. For one thing, we'd been together what felt like FOREVER and marriage just seemed like the next logical step. On top of that, my grandfather had died just a few months before the proposal and I felt my family slowly disappearing into the ethers. That, tied with how very conscious I was of my grandmother, how long she had left to live - this person, who I loved more than anything or anyone, the most important person in my life, with her words to me so many years ago echoing in my mind: "I want to live to see you get married" - of course, this all weighed on me too.

I took every fear and every doubt and turned them into prison walls. When I should have said "no" and when I should have continued on, I didn't. And yes, even then, deep in my gut I knew what I'd always known: I was taking a huge step off of what was really my path. In fact, my inner wisdom was so sure I was making the wrong move that I cried, I kid you not, through my entire engagement. I had one day where I totally broke down and still, I pushed through. These are the lessons we learn the hard way. I wish I could have shaken some sense into 20-Something Me. Told her the man she was meant to be with was waiting for her, and would be there, all those years later. That when he and I got to the right points on our paths we would meet, we would laugh, we would love in ways 20-Something Me could never fathom. He and I together would be exactly what Four Year Old Me always knew existed, and who always knew along would have to be much older and wiser and yes, in our 30's.

If there's anything I've learned for sure in this life it's that you have no idea what lies ahead of you. You have no reason to limit yourself to anything that doesn't fit your genuine, intuition, know-it-in-your-gut wisdom.

Do not limit yourself because of fear.

Free yourself in spite of it.

Do not limit yourself because of doubt.

Dare to go beyond what you know.

Let your inner compass guide your steps. The life you lead is limitless.

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