Time to Kill Your Mental Boundaries


March 12, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

What do you believe about yourself? It is remarkably easy to become convinced of your limitations. Frequently, people discuss what they would love to have or do but “can’t” for one reason or another. In some cases, there are huge challenges to overcome; however, all too often, what we perceive to be a physical, economical, physiological, or social boundary ends up being a mental boundary.

Buying into these mental limitations can be detrimental to your success. Here are 3 reasons to destroy your mental boundaries!

Mental Boundaries Cause Us to Accept Limitations That Are No Longer There

Much behavior is controlled by the subconscious mind. The subconscious is our autopilot, and one of its functions is to keep us in our comfort zones. This actually is very beneficial in many cases. For example, it would be a waste of time to relearn menial tasks everyday, such as buttoning a shirt, so the mind maps a blueprint of actions and behaviors required to button shirts, eliminating the need to pay too much attention.

Nonetheless, there are definitely other situations where ignoring the auto-response can be the difference between success and failure. For example, trainers shackle young elephants with heavy chains using deeply embedded stakes, so that the young elephants learn to stay in their place. The training is so thorough that even when the elephants are older and more powerful, they never attempt leaving, despite having the strength to pull up the stake and walk away. Even when there’s only a small unattached metal bracelet, meaning the stake is no longer there, the powerful elephants are still hostage to their previous programming. The key is that it is no longer the stake that is holding them prisoner. Their mental barriers are really limiting their movements.

All too often, we impose needless restraints on our lives. We have been so thoroughly convinced of our limitations that we dare not question them, even in cases where those boundaries no longer exist or no longer possess the power to stop our progress. There will always be seemingly valid justifications for why you can’t start that business, give the object of your affections a call, pursue that degree, or lose weight. Those justifications only point out the size of the problem, but they ignore the size of you. Do you know how great you are?

Recognize when your subconscious is acting as the personal saboteur to your dreams and aspirations. Don’t allow the shackles of failure to bind you when the only true barrier is your mind.

Mental Boundaries Will Limit Our Potential

Mental boundaries are also a great danger to your potential. Possibilities for you are determined by your capacity to believe. While this statement may be motivating, the tragedy occurs when your belief system refuses to acknowledge your ability to achieve the seemingly improbable. It was improbable that someone fired for lacking creativity went on to found one of the most creative and magical places on earth, yet Walt Disney persisted. It was improbable that someone ousted by his own board would go on to helm another company and lead it to unprecedented heights then return to his previous company and shatter record after record, yet Steve Jobs persisted. Just because a dream is seemingly improbable, doesn’t mean that you lack the potential to bring it into manifestation. Improbable is not impossible.

Sometimes we acquire these mental barriers from other people. Roger Bannister, the first man recorded to run the 4-minute mile was told by physiologists of his time that not only was running the 4-minute mile impossible for man to do but attempting to do so was dangerous to man’s health. Obviously, they were wrong, and once Roger Bannister proved so, the world was not only stunned, but the collective mental barrier was decimated. In around 3 years from the time Roger Bannister first ran a sub-4 minute mile, 16 runners did so as well, even though no others had accomplished this feat during the previous century. This substantiates that the speed barrier was only secondary to the mind barrier. Once Roger Bannister changed the expectation of possibilities through the achievement of his high goal, the entire paradigm through which the other runners viewed the world changed accordingly. He changed their potential by shattering their mental barriers.

Mental Boundaries Are Rooted in a Negative Sense of Worth
Too many people die with their music still in them. Steven Covey argues that we all desire to “live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy.” However, it is hard to achieve something substantively meaningful when you feel miserable and unaccomplished. Likewise, developing a positive self worth is part of the basis for making deposits of success in OTHER areas of your life (health, spiritual, mental, etc) if you are out of a job. That way, your measure of success and failure won’t be wholly-defined by your job situation.

I recently became aware of Sylvester Stallone’s powerful story. Early on, he found it difficult to realize his dream of becoming an actor/writer. After watching a boxing match between Mohammad Ali and Chuck Wepner, he became inspired to write the script for Rocky. He then took his script to producers; they loved the idea but were not pleased that he wanted to be the lead actor in his own star vehicle. They even offered him $325,000 for the script only. This would translate into an inflation-adjusted $1.3 million in today’s dollars. Stallone turned it down, adamant that he should star in the film. Eventually, they acquiesced to his demand at the risk of losing the script, and he was paid $35,000 to star in Rocky. Now, films that he has starred in have grossed upward of $2.6 billion worldwide, earning him both critical and commercial acclaim. He clearly made the best decision. However, suppose he had bought into the producers’ assessment of his value rather than adhering to his own sense of his worth?

A real danger of having a negative sense of worth is that you never know when you are going to get a chance to do the extraordinary. If you don’t feel worthy of the opportunity, then it is hard to capitalize on it.

Winston Churchill said “to every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.”

Closing Thoughts
I hope you are convinced that it is not within your best interest to blindly accept mental barriers to your success. While such justifications may keep you comfortable, your reward is often in the discomfort. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of victory due to false beliefs of who you are, what you can do, and where you can go. You possess the power to eliminate so many shackles and solve problems that enrich the world. Break free of your chains today!

Written on 3/12/2012 by Roshawn Watson. Roshawn writes at Watson Inc. on eliminating debt, investing money, and building wealth. Get my free eBook Your Foundation to Wealth by signing up for my email updates (no spam I promise). Get my RSS feed and connect with me on Twitter @roshawnwatson too. Photo Credit: Benjamin Forrest

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