While reading a post from one of my favorite travel/personal development bloggers, I started to consider how often my thought process holds me back from new experiences. Niall Doherty, from Disrupting the Rabblement, suggests that we have “limiting beliefs” that are often false and may hold us back from new experiences. To kill these limiting beliefs, he suggests having more “reference experiences.” These are experiences that push us outside the realm of our minds and into the real world to disprove those limiting beliefs.
I am often guilty of letting my limiting beliefs keep me from experiencing life to the fullest. For as long as I can remember, I have let thoughts brought on by shyness or anxiety sway my decisions to do or not do something. Shyness and anxiety both bring countless limiting beliefs to the table: people might think I’m weird/ugly/stupid, I won’t be articulate, I could get hurt, the kids could get hurt, the kids might have a melt down, we might have an awful time, etc. and on and on. These limiting beliefs are not facts. I haven’t tested them to see if they hold up in the real world.
Niall suggests, “You can’t kill a limiting belief with logic. But you can often kill a limiting belief by getting out there and putting it to the test in the real world, by actually experiencing that logic at play.” It is completely against my instincts to shut out those limiting beliefs, but this idea has me motivated to try.
I had a chance to do so on a bitter cold and windy day not long after I read Niall’s post. I got an email from a friend inviting us to go sledding. My limiting beliefs kicked in immediately:
It’s too cold. My daughter hates the wind. She will be miserable. My five year old is having an awful day full of emotional ups and downs. He will be miserable. My eight year old hates having cold hands, but can never seem to keep his gloves on. He will be miserable. My husband and I are tired and managing three miserable kids on a sledding outing could put us over the edge. We will be miserable. It is REALLY windy. Falling branches could be hazardous. It will be a lot of work to get them all ready….(I know, my limiting beliefs are exhausting!)
Then I thought about the post. I thought about testing all these limiting beliefs in the real world.
It occurred to me that I would rather go and have it suck than stay and wonder if it could have been awesome.
So, we went. And it was awesome. But, even if it hadn’t been, it would have been real. A real experience in the real world. As parents, we owe it our kids to test our limiting beliefs. As human beings with a limited number of years on this earth, we owe it to ourselves to experience all we can without letting our fears stand in our way. Much of life is outside of my comfort zone, but I am determined to follow Niall’s advice and “Get out there and do more things.”
- Bar Harbor, Maine
- Bringing Back the Mix Tape