Are You Responsible for Your Own Limitations?

How are you holding yourself back? Your limitations may be more obvious than you think.

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What is holding you back?

Let that phrase sink in. What comes to mind? Regardless of your answer, consider this: It’s not the thing that came to mind. According to comedian and transformation speaker Kyle Cease, it’s the belief in the idea of that thing. You very well could be giving yourself a limitation, placing a parameter on your success and your contentment.

You’re not alone. Everyone (present party included) tends to create and designate reasons as to why we “can’t” do something. These reasons could come down to finances, the demands of a time-consuming career, or family obligations. Deeper reasons people attribute to “I can’t” include gender, age, skin color, or injury. But these self-imposed limitations can stem from simple social memes as well. Even telling yourself that you’re a Libra, or blaming Mercury Retrograde, can absolutely be a limitation. But Kyle calls BS.

“The greatest thing you can believe about yourself is nothing compared to what you are,” he says. “What you are is even more amazing than the greatest belief you have about yourself.”

That’s pretty stellar, albeit confusing, to think about. Bottom line: You have the power to catalyze your personal growth through your thoughts. You also have the power to hold yourself back and suppress your evolution. Let’s use the example of professional demands as one of these self-imposed limitations. You may tell yourself: I can’t do start writing that novel because my job is too hectic. I work 9–5 everyday and when I come home I’m too tired to write. I have to get dinner on the table for my family.

Notice all the limitations in that paragraph. It’s not those things that are holding you back—it’s the belief in those non-negotiable parameters as constraints, rather than challenges. A simple thought reframe can expand those parameters. Instead of blaming (and thus eventually resenting) your family and career, Kyle believes that embracing these so-called “limitations” will actually help them disappear. In this example,  you’d first accept the fact that you have to work certain hours, and that your family needs you. From there, you can start reframing your perspective. If I get up at 6am, I can write for an hour before getting ready for work. Challenging? Yes. Constraining? No. It’s all about ceasing resistance and practicing acceptance.

These limitations can also be more hypothetical or subtle—we place limitations on ourselves by expecting we need to be or do something specific. Many of us (Type-A millennials raise your hands!) believe we are supposed to do something amazing; that we are somehow unworthy or “doing it wrong” if we’re not doing something to change the world. That in itself is a limitation—what are we preventing ourselves from doing by constantly carrying around this weight?

“One thing we often believe is we have to get more motivated, or more driven. [That] we have to be somewhere else,” Kyle says. “That’s our reaction to resistance, and our ego fighting back to what we created in the first place.”

Kyle says that any belief can be a limitation. “Even the belief ‘I’m going to make it happen,” he adds. “It’s already happening is even more true. The more I realize I don’t know anything, the freer I feel, the more empowered I feel, the more I connect to nature.” The power of positive thinking is real.

How to Free Yourself from Limiting Beliefs

Make a list of the things that might be “holding you back.”

Think of that dream, project, or goal and make a list of all the reasons why you can’t do it. Don’t be shy—we all make a ton of excuses! Once you have a list, go through each one and accept those excuses for being a part of your journey and let go of the resistance. This newfound freedom may transform your perspective on this project, as well as potentially open the door for new ideas and opportunities.

Now make another list. List all the reasons why you feel you “should” do a particular project. If the reasons coming up are “Everyone else is doing something” or “I want to feel special,” those might be limiting beliefs. Go after the projects that feel right, not just the one that you think you’re supposed to be doing.

Embrace where you are.  

Perhaps you’re torn between ideas, or unsure of what move to make next. Maybe you’re frustrated because you haven’t yet found something to be passionate about. And that’s OK. Telling yourself that there is something “wrong with you” is a limiting belief. It’s OK to not have all the answers. It’s OK to be indecisive. Accept that different points of life look different for every person and accept that you are exactly where you need to be on your journey. This eliminates the limitation that you “should” be doing something.

Do the thing that feels right, even if you can’t visualize it.

Have you ever had a gut feeling that you were unable to explain? Your intuition is strong—and becomes all the more stronger when you listen to it. If you have an inkling that a certain direction might be best for you, but can’t totally understand why, don’t let this lack of clarity prevent you from taking action. As humans, we’re more inclined to latch ourselves to unhappiness before moving to uncertainty.  Challenge this, and thus challenge your limitations.

What limiting belief do you need to let go of?

Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram