Self-Awareness and Limits Are Your Answer!

Do you get hooked in?

Picture the scene, you bump into a friend and they immediately begin off-loading on you about how very busy they are, with work, kids, family and how everything sucks in life because of it. You are standing there taking it all in and you get hooked, like Velcro. You get pulled in and attach onto the mood or one of the emotions yourself.  Then you start to say things that were not even near to featuring in your thoughts until a second ago…

How many times do you hear yourself saying out loud things like:

‘I can’t, it’s not the right time. I don’t have the money right now. I wish I could, I just don’t have the confidence. I will do it, just not right now, it’s too much along with everything else.’

or your internal voice saying;

‘I want to do it differently but no one will understand me. What will they think? I don’t want to make a mistake, look stupid. What if I am wrong? I know I want to do it but it scares me. I can’t change it so may as well just accept it and be quiet. It’s not worth the stress. My needs are less important than everyone else’s so just get on with it.’

These are just a few examples of the daily chatter we have with ourselves and others, and often we never stop to even acknowledge what we are saying. We get hooked in and attached and let the chatter grow uncontrolled.  Although we cannot avoid the ebb and flow of our moods or our emotions, we can begin to notice them and then delve a little deeper.  The more times we hear the same chatter, the more times we repeat the same stories, the more we believe it and then take it as fact. But is it fact?

To shake up this pattern we first need to see it and hear it and look to remove our unconscious attachment to it, or in other words become more insightful and compassionate with ourselves.  It is not just about noticing only the seemingly negative emotions, it’s also about learning to recognise what triggers our good moods too. To know what brings these mood swing changes will help us understand that they are not so solid and are each a reaction to what happens to us in this world around us.

There are many ways to become more conscious in our daily lives, for example through more formal meditation and mindfulness practices such as yoga. But there are also other less formal ways to practise in everyday encounters.

The key is to begin to notice yourself and listen to what you are saying to yourself and others, to develop some increased self-awareness.  This can be achieved by actively listening to the conversations you are engaging in.  Hearing how many times you repeat the same story daily. Who do you engage with often? How do you feel afterwards? Has your mood been impacted?

During the conversation, before you jump in and offer your story, your side of events, perhaps ask yourself a couple of quick questions:

‘What value am I adding here and how can I best serve them and myself?’

By simply asking yourself a quick question before you jump in will bring you back to the present moment.  We have all heard about being more present, well that basically comes down to being more conscious and that in itself is a gift as it offers you more choice.

Then you have options, do you want to add fuel to the drama?

If so,  jump in knowingly and notice the emotions that it creates in you, like rage, anger, tiredness, sadness or excitement.  We all need a rant now and again; we all need to get it out.  Take a moment to notice, to say ‘hang on I’m here again’ and ask yourself what triggered you to attach to the conversation in the first instance?

Once you begin to notice the underlying cause, you can let the emotion or mood dissolve and give yourself a break, be kinder to yourself, more compassionate and choose ‘how to be’.

Practising this often naturally leads to a more conscious or mindful way of living.

So how does all this relate to limits being your answer?

With this increased self-awareness, I believe there is great insight to be had by identifying and writing down all our limits around any particular project or vision.  To clearly identify our own limits gives us our gems, nuggets, and clues to help us move forward.  We can creatively develop ideas to move around, through, under or over the perceived obstacle. I believe once we know our limits, we can get creative with them and turn them into our needs, our functions and integrate them into our action plan.

This is really useful when you are beginning something new, or facing a problem or challenge.  Perhaps a new project, or new relationship, a relocation, or new job… it really doesn’t matter.  If you are ready to brave up and listen to yourself then this is worth a try.

I must first acknowledge Looby Macnamara, as she has developed a Design Web model taking permaculture philosophies and applying them to people based systems [http://loobymacnamara.com/people-and-permaculture/].  She takes the limits and delayers them into 4 groups:

  • Visible Limits – these could be physical barriers such as distance or time zones, or if something like a garden project, pathways, pond, fence line etc.
  • Invisible Limits – such as unseen communication flows between teams, partners, family or energy levels of a team/group; the unknown skill level of individual or group; or unseen/spoken expectations.
  • Internal Limits – this is where self-limiting beliefs enter, how we see the world and other people.  Some are inherited, cultural or arrive via main stream media.  We have been conditioned since birth, ask yourself how are they showing up in this instance?
  • External Limits – these can be more practical limits for instance policies, regulations, school holidays, office hours, school hours etc.

Sometimes limits are missing in our lives, for example you may identify a need to set a boundary around your work or your health for example.

Take a moment to consider your situation, what is your vision i.e. what is the ideal scene you are looking to achieve for this ‘project’ and then consider what is keeping you feeling small when your ideal scene may appear so big? Get creative, draw up a table, diagram, or drawing, and note them all.

Here is your opportunity to get honest with yourself, what are you holding on to which is holding you back.  What do those behaviours look like? What is your comfort blanket?

We often use time and money as a real limit, which is legitimate as they are both a top line limit, but what is underneath each of them? Is the time or money an excuse? What is the base layer limit, is it confidence? Is it a limiting self-belief? What is really blocking your connection with your ideal scene?

Once you have them identified, do you see them forming any patterns, do they naturally correlate into groups? What are your priorities? Do these link to your core values? If you were to flip each one upside down, 180 degrees, and make it into a need, what would that need look like now?

I have recently taken myself through this exercise as part of a change that I am embarking on. It is a transition involving myself and my family.  Being able to document all my perceived limits in a clear format and then flip them into clear needs in my action plan has already given me huge insight and benefits.

Here are a few personal observations:

  • With all my perceived limits documented clearly in one place, some of them, already no longer appear as a limit! Those remaining do not now feel unsurmountable.
  • It has left me feeling more focussed with room for creative solutions.
  • It has given me a vehicle or vessel to discuss quite sensitive areas non-emotively with my partner.
  • I feel empowered as I have approached this transition differently with a greater sense of control and positivity.
  • The limits listed out provided the structure for my action plan. They provided the stepping stones and were easier to prioritise than expected.
  • They have given me connections to other areas of my transition plan, such as my overall vision, ideas, patterns and integration.
  • I have learnt some key insights on where my ‘hooks’ were, with this knowledge I am more aware and therefore have more choice around my reactions.
  • They provide me with another anchor and they give me a sort of baseline to work from. It therefore provides me with momentum and energy to progress further when perceived obstacles are eventually overcome.

The benefits to taking a few minutes to identify your limits are quite staggering and I truly believe knowing them is one of your biggest assets to moving forward in growth.

If you would like any help with this, or need a brainstorm as to what is holding you back right now, then please get in touch.  I offer a free 30 min discovery session so there is nothing to lose.  It is easy to contact me through the website or via my Facebook page.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes

Sam x

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