…And I regularly exceed them.
Take beer, for instance. I should not drink more than two beers in an hour. I know this, but sometimes I don’t care about my limits. Occasionally, I actually DO want to get a little sloshed. It’s a pleasant experience, and it does help to lighten the cognitive load for a guy who thinks too much. The science tells me I lose brain cells when I drink, so that’s another reason to drink in moderation.
Now I have rules. If I exceed my drinking limit, I DO NOT drive. I have no problem asking, on the spot, for a designated driver. If no designated driver is available, I will give someone my keys to hold until I’m fit to drive. I am exceedingly concerned that I not cause harm to others, and have done my best not to do so.
But this post is not really about my drinking habits. It is, rather, an examination of the nature of limits we perceive to be present, but are actually figments of our imagination.
Most people have pummeled themselves their entire lives with “I can’t” statements. For example, “I can’t draw,” “I can’t sing,” or “I can’t do math.”
And while it may be true that you’re not Rembrandt, Pavarotti, or Grothendieck, you are in fact capable of drawing, singing, and sums.
Of course gifts in these areas vary greatly. But surely you have looked upon at least one drawing and thought briefly, “Hey, I could do that.” Well maybe your self-confidence is so battered that you haven’t allowed yourself the freedom to conceive such a possibility, but that’s just your mind keeping you trapped. It’s been wisely said that your mind is a great servant, but a terrible master. You are actually much bigger than your thoughts, and you have power over them.
Like you, I have my own recurring “can’t” statements. I’ve been saying for a year, “I can’t lose ten pounds.” When I’ve shut off the “can’t” engine and realized that losing weight is possible, I can easily drop two or three pounds in a week. Unfortunately, I usually add them back on. But I’m informed enough about nutrition to know it’s entirely possible to drop ten pounds at a pace of two pounds per week, and keep them off for good. Thousands have done it.
If I could sustain the effort for five weeks, I’m absolutely certain I could reach my weight goal. And I will, once I shut off the “can’t” engine long enough to do it. I may lose more, but dropping ten pounds would be, for me, a very satisfying accomplishment. After I lose the first ten, I may keep going, or I may not. I know what habits I have to break to meet my goal, so I’m going to work on those. One of those habits is being a little too fond of beer.
Like I said, I know my limits.