We all have limitations in our lives that we have to acknowledge and honor. But sometimes we place limits on ourselves. We put ourselves in a box.
Stuck in a Box
I remember talking with a friend, and he was sharing about a difficult situation he was having with a work colleague. The situation had been going on a long time, and it was causing him a great deal of stress and anxiety.
The thing that struck me most about the conversation was how stuck my friend felt. It felt like there wasn’t anything my friend could do to change the situation or make it better. At one point I asked him, “Do you feel like you are stuck in this situation, and there is nothing you can do to get out of it?”
“Yes!” he answered. “That is exactly how I feel.”
His response got me thinking. My friend has an advanced degree, and is an accomplished professional and leader in his field. Yet in this situation, he felt as if he didn’t have any power to stand up for himself and make a change in his relationship with a difficult colleague.
Placing Limits on Ourselves
I think we sometimes place limits on ourselves. We put ourselves in a box that keeps us in a certain place. The box feels real, because it dominates our subjective experience. But sometimes it may not be an accurate reflection of reality. Or perhaps it does reflect our reality “right now,” but we don’t realize we have the power to change our box.
The “Box” of Being Overweight
I’ll give you an example from my own life. For most of my growing-up years, I was overweight. This was a consistent source of embarrassment and shame for me. During my junior and senior years of high school, I lost 60 pounds. This was a major change for me. However, for many years after that, I lived in a box. I viewed myself similarly to when I was overweight. I wasn’t happy with how I looked, and I struggled to date with confidence. When a woman I was interested in didn’t like me back, I would get upset and depressed, and feel like I did when I was a teenager.
Getting Out of Your Box
The first step to changing my box was realizing that even though my box was a subjective reality, it wasn’t an objective reality. In fact, I was sabotaging myself, placing limits on myself that didn’t need to be there. Once I recognized that, I was able to work toward letting go of the box I lived in, and focus more energy toward living the life I really wanted.
Discussion: What is one box you are living in right now? What is one step you could take today toward getting out of your box?