Playing with Limitation
Choosing Freedom within a Challenging Situation
So, things seem to be humming along, and suddenly you’ve hit a block. This is a common condition we can experience in life as well as in business.
How any of us handle a block stems entirely from the story we tell ourselves about the block, why it is appearing and what it means to us.
When I hit a block in life, I ask myself: Is this block representing a limitation I think I have? A weakness I believe I possess? Or is there a choice I need to make?
Limitations – Within or Without?
Let’s start with the idea of a block that is showing up as a limitation.
Limitation can come in two forms: as one that is imposed upon us or in a belief that we are in some way limited ourselves.
Having limitations imposed upon us can sometimes be freeing, given a more positive perspective.
Let’s say you were given a canvas and told you could paint anything you wanted on it, with any medium. There’s a chance that this may excite you, especially if you were coming into the exercise with an idea to explore already. But there is a greater possibility that the multitude of directions in topic, subject, style, and medium would be overwhelming.
However, if you were given a canvas and told to paint a self portrait or to imitate a painting style or create an abstract landscape, your creativity would work within that limitation and in essence be freed by it to do something unique within the confines of the assigned task.
(In creative pursuits, I’ve always found limitations the tool by which truly unique and interesting solutions are discovered. It helps the mind step outside of well-worn grooves of thinking and look for innovative juxtapositions.)
Inner Limitations - Limiting Beliefs
But there is a different kind of limitation that is more insidious. If you feel limited — say by thinking you don’t have a certain skill, that you’ll never make a certain level of income, that some achievement is out of reach, or some other barrier — then you have adopted a limiting thought about yourself, and that is truly (and unnecessarily) confining.
The truth is, most of our ideas of our own limitations live in our own minds and don’t reflect reality. It doesn’t mean it might not take us time to learn a skill, or that maybe even learning that skill is not an ideal use of our time. It doesn’t mean that it won't take patience and right timing to reach a goal.
However, if we go into something believing we are limited in some way, we are going to prove ourselves right every time. If we go forth thinking of ourselves as having unlimited potential, then what we do next is more a matter of how we prioritize our time or energy than it is about a story we have about ourselves that is likely untrue in the first place.
Weaknesses vs. Strengths
Let’s say we don’t feel limited so much as we realize we just aren’t quite strong in the area where we think we need strength.
Maybe we’re not so adept at some aspect of our business, simply because we don’t know enough or we haven’t had enough practice. Maybe some technology is still confounding to us or we are missing a strategy.
If we can identify the block as arising out of a weakness (rather than thinking in terms of limitations), then we get to choose if we would like to build that weakness into a strength or rely on partnerships with others who already possess that strength to shore us up.
And here’s a useful idea about strength and weakness. I believe it is Marcus Beckingham who teaches, “A weakness is something that weakens you and a strength is something that strengthens you.” It isn’t necessarily a personal judgment we have made against ourselves. It can simply mean that doing that task either causes us to expand or contract. In fact, a weakness might even be something we are really good at but feel miserable doing.
If something drains you and you can release that task reasonably to someone else, then by all means, let it go! You do have a choice.
Seeing Choices Everywhere
I would argue that even in the realms of limitation and weakness we have choice. We are always free to choose and we are always enough as we are (though of course we will always lean towards continued growth and expansion, even as we know — or ought to know! — we are perfectly imperfect at all times).
We get to choose how we will creatively use the blocks we are presented with in life. And I think blocks show up for a variety of different reasons, ultimately all in support of our highest good.
Blocks: The Seeds of Creative Solutions
In facing a block, I always ask myself the following questions:
Is the block appearing to slow me down so I can consider another alternative?
Is the limitation an opportunity in disguise?
Is that weakness coming up to show me the great gifts in leaning on others for support, or to get me to ask others on board who can amplify my vision if I were to open to their wisdom and support?
Is my personal feeling of limitation arising so that I can stretch beyond it mindfully and raise my upper limits even higher than I previously thought possible?
At times like these I will often rely on divination such as oracle decks, Tarot, or I Ching to help me see things more clearly. It’s too easy to have a knee jerk reaction about a block or a feeling of limitation, and tools like these can help my mind expand so I can see more opportunities where I once only saw opposition and a loss of momentum.
Choose to Be Free & Creative
We are always on a journey of growth and discovery in our businesses. When you are tackling difficult aspects — whether it’s getting to the heart of who you want to work with and how to reach them, figuring out how you’re going to get all those business materials funded and created, strategizing your marketing plan and content creation, or any other number of tasks — I encourage you to always see yourself as free, creative within any perceived limitations, and open to the lessons of the obstacle being presented to you.
Life — and Business — are a Playground (Not a Battlefield)
Within challenges are the seeds to your expansion and the attraction of tremendous good to you. Not only that, but these challenges also contain the greatest potential for unlocking and sharing your deepest gifts with the world.
When we see life as a playground instead of a battlefield, then we are more likely to enjoy the experience and find the ideal co-creators to join us in our play.