By Patricia: Why is it that horse riders have a reputation for ignoring their limits? It’s because the only way you become a better rider or trainer is to push past the best that you can do. They push past what they have done before. They take a trail or enter a competition they’ve never done before. If you don’t push your limits, you never get better. This works in all aspects of life.
When I learned to snow ski, I fell down a lot. Eventually, I stopped falling down. After a while, I realized that I wasn’t getting any better. I still could only ski the intermediate trails, and not all of them. When I stopped falling down, I stopped pushing my limits and I stopped getting any better.
Pushing your limits isn’t easy. Pushing your limits means you are going to fall down. Falling down hurts, and no one wants to get caught falling down – it’s embarrassing. But we only learn from our mistakes. If we always get everything right, we never learn anything new. A recovering addict once said on the Food Network that “It doesn’t matter who you were when you fell down, it only matters who you are when you get back up.” That is true in recovery, and is true for anytime we make a mistake and “fall down”. I had a choir director that used to say, “if you are going to make a mistake, make it a big one, correct it, then make sure you don’t do it again.” When you make a mistake anywhere in life, correct it, then learn from it so it doesn’t happen again. This is how people successfully push their limits.
So, how do I push my limits? It’s not easy and it can be very scary. Find an area of your life where you would like to grow and change. Are you shy and have difficulty making friends? Are you thinking about going back to school, but don’t think you can balance your life, career, family and education? Are you feeling like your relationship with your partner is getting stagnant, or they are drifting away from you? The easiest thing to do is to ignore the issue and just let things slide. This will, inevitably, lead to the problem becoming worse, not better. You will not make new friends, you won’t go back to school, and your relationship will continue to fade away.
The hardest thing to do is to look at the problem and to decide to do something about it. Doing something about any of the issues above will push your limits and stretch your abilities. If you are shy, but want to make friends, you will have to push your limits and find a place and a way to make friends. Find something you like to do and join a group that focuses on doing that thing – a book club, a gym, a sports team, a study group, a political, ecological action group – find a way to be with people who like to do the same things you do. (I won’t lie – this is hard to do and it takes courage!) Once you have found these groups, you have to find the courage to go to a meeting, gathering, or a game where these people will be. Once there, you have to do the hardest thing of all – introduce yourself to some of these people and let them know you are interested in joining them. This will be your foot in the door. If you have chosen well, these people will greet you and help you become involved. They will become your friends. Now you have the pride of having stepped out of your comfort zone, and you will have accomplished your goal of meeting new people. Congratulate yourself!
Even harder is dealing with family issues such as a partner who seems to be drifting away from you, becoming remote. It is very hard to find a way to approach your partner and ask them what is happening, why they are drifting away. You need to ask the questions in a way that will get you the answers you want and not sound like you are accusing them of anything. It is frightening and will really stretch your limits if you choose to do this. The rewards can be tremendous, but the risk is tremendous too. If they take offense, it will rapidly become an argument That could make things worse. If you don’t do anything, the situation will become worse anyway. One approach that has worked for me is the “I’m confused” approach. “I’m confused – it seems like you are drifting away from me. Have I done something wrong?” This is not threatening to your partner, takes responsibility for anything you may have done without realizing it, and opens the door for your partner to talk about whatever is bothering them. Once the issue is out in the open, it can be dealt with together. If they do not respond and say everything is fine, this is your clue there is something wrong, but now is not the time. You can back off and find another way to approach the problem. Meanwhile, your partner is aware that you have noticed that something is wrong. Either way, you know you have attempted to address the problem and you have stretched your limits. Congratulate yourself!
Stretching your limits is difficult, frightening, and the thought of doing it can be overwhelming. However, the rewards for successfully doing so is becoming a better, stronger person you can be proud of. Having that pride and self-esteem that comes with pushing yourself will make it a little easier next time you want to push your limits. This becomes an upward spiral that will immeasurably improve your life and your happiness and pride in yourself. Congratulations on taking the first step!
Love and Light,