I got home last night to find my little dog missing. He is a Shih Tzu x Poodle with a gregarious personality. I built a perimeter fence for the very reason of keeping my animals (chooks and dogs) in and providing them safe opportunity to free roam. I felt a little panicked when I checked every nook and cranny, walked every inch of the yard and close proximity streets, whistling and calling him with no response. I turned to social media and true to form the community had the clues to his whereabouts. He was found roaming in town and impounded!

Jasper has always been a bolter; a door left slightly ajar, a latch not quite right or in this case, soft dirt in which to burrow under the fence is his cue to escape into a seemingly more exciting world. Clearly, his little patch of paradise at home is not enough for him. Something more beckons and whenever the opportunity presents he grabs it and quite literally runs!

It got me thinking about fences, real and imaginary.

Fences are designed to constrain, exclude, barricade and separate. Whether real or imaginary this outcome is almost certainly achieved. However, if you take the time to look around you, it becomes obvious there are many Jaspers in this world; those that believe there is more. More to do, explore, and achieve. These types spend just about every waking moment thinking of ways to break free of constraints and [escape] while others simply find and impose more.

In the world of learning and development the latter is often referred to as limiting beliefs. We all hold them at some stage in our lives, but some of us learn to recognise them, realise they are Self-limiting and learn to do a Jasper and break free.

Limiting beliefs restrict our choices and limit our capacity to change the way we behave. We can learn to identify our own limiting beliefs by listening to the language we use.

Do you say things like: “Our product is too expensive”, “We could never change the culture around here”, “Finding new customers is really difficult”, “I could never speak in public about my services”, “I am no good at mathematics”, “You have to be tough, otherwise you won’t gain the respect of your team”, “I can’t be myself, as I may be judged”, “I ‘d never be considered for that job” or “I could never speak to my children about sex.”

To challenge a limiting belief, you only need to introduce some doubt.

For example, with the statement “our product is too expensive” simply question why? Why is it? Compared to whom? Compared to what? How do you know? What if it’s not?

Here are some questions to ponder that will enable you to start challenging any limiting beliefs you may hold:

  • What assumptions have I made in holding this belief? (what do I believe about the belief)
  • Has there ever been a time when this belief was not true or did not apply? (think of some examples)
  • In what way is this belief ridiculous or absurd?
  • What will it cost me to keep this belief?
  • Is there a more useful way of thinking of this situation?

Our beliefs centre on our emotions, relationships, hopes and dreams. Deep down, we’re afraid that once we get hurt, or experience heartbreak, or face a setback, there will be no point of recovery but of course, what if that’s just not true?

These limiting beliefs are the imaginary fences we build around us to protect us from some outcome we are not even really sure exists. These beliefs constrain us in some way just like a real fence. Just by believing them, we stop thinking, doing or saying the things they inhibit. We fence ourselves in by our own thoughts and beliefs.

There is always opportunity to do something different or better by replacing your old, disempowering beliefs with new beliefs that support you in the things you want to do and achieve. The choice is always absolutely yours.

So if a real fence can’t always constrain us, why then does an imaginary one?

What fences do you have in your life?

Happy Learning!

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