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Courage To Think Independently – Avoid Limited Thinking
by Jessalyn Lau
As we continue our journey to better understand what it means to have courage in light of 2020, we find ourselves looking at the aspect of having the courage to think independently – more specifically how to avoid limited thinking. Limited thinking is when we give permission to the negative self-talk, doubt, past experiences, and the expectations and words of others to create barriers that redirect the direction and trajectory for your growth, your ambitions, your dreams, and your outcomes in life. The significance is if we allow these things to mold and shape us- they can also hurt, hinder, and discourage us from pursing many of the opportunities and relationships in our lives.
Recently, I came across a video of an inspiring young man who pushed past not only mental limitations but what many may perceive as a physical limitation as well. Seeds of Resiliency Documentary – Trailer – YouTube (Start video at 2:10)
Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham landed the world’s first double backflip on a wheelchair on August 26, 2010 at Camp Woodward. He did not let the words “I can’t, I’m not good enough, or it’s impossible” to discourage him. He did not let fear and failure hinder him from pursing and chasing his dream of successfully landing the world’s first double backflip in a wheelchair. How many of us can say the same? How many of us have let those words prevent us from pursing our dream job, stopped us from booking our dream vacation, or held us back from trying something new or making a commitment? Admittedly, I have.
Studies have shown that 75% of our self-talk, the internal dialogue that we use to describe ourselves or process our actions, are negative. As a result, we subconsciously put ourselves in a box, limit our self-growth and development, and crush our own dreams. So how do we break free? How do we break our minds out of this box? I would like to suggest this simple 7 step exercise to help you “Avoid Limited Thinking”. Before we begin, I would like to invite you to first grab a piece of paper and a pen to assist you with this process.

STEP
1

Understand What Limited Thinking Is

Limited thinking comes in many different forms and affects every aspect of our lives. The easiest way to spot limited thinking is by identifying when we use limiting words such as “can’t, not, and shouldn’t”. For instance, telling yourself, “I can’t stop myself from eating ice cream,” or “I am not good enough,” or “I shouldn’t think such foolish dreams,” are all examples of limited thoughts.

Exercise 1: Take some time to write down what some of the limiting thoughts are that you tell yourself.

STEP
2

Become Aware of the Limited Thought

Now it is time for us to do a little more self-reflection to help reveal where in our life we are experiencing these limited thoughts. Are they occurring in your career, related to your health, or affecting your relationships? Narrow your focus to one category or aspect in your life at a time. This will help you to pinpoint the root of the limited thought.

Exercise 2: Write down the one area in your life that you would like to focus on.

STEP
3

Acknowledge Why the Limited Thought Exists

Now it is important for us to note that these limited thoughts did not just appear out of thin air. It was planted there. Did you or someone close to you attempt to do something but failed? Has someone in your past told you that you were not good enough? Was there an event that happened in your childhood that you have not yet fully processed?

Exercise 3: Take a moment to write down where you believe the limited thought came from and perhaps even who first planted that thought in your mind?

STEP
4

Acknowledge the Root Of Limited Thoughts

When the cause of the limited thought is revealed, the next step is to understand the root behind the limited thought. For example, maybe it is fear. Fear that the negative words people have instilled into your mind are true. Fear that you will be hurt again. Or fear that this is all that life has to offer and that you are trapped where you are.

Exercise 4: On your paper, write down the root of the limited thought.

STEP
5

“Do Something Every Day That Scares You” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Now I know what you are probably thinking. “Jessalyn, what are you talking about? Why would I want to do something scary? Facing my fears is difficult, it’s imposing, it’s uncomfortable!”. I agree, this did not make sense to me either and appeared to be a very challenging and daunting feat to face. However, when I learned about micro bravery, it made this feat seem much more achievable! Micro bravery is a tactic that is used to encourage you to do small acts of bravery to build up your courage daily. Think of bravery as a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. Take a look at this video to get a better idea of micro bravery. What Will People Think of Me? – YouTube (Start video at 0:17) Remember, we can improve our bravery in small ways by practicing brave skills. Skills are like muscles. The more you flex them, the stronger they get!

Exercise 5: Write down 1 micro bravery skill that you can do!

STEP
6

Embrace The Fear

I need to tell you something that is vitally important to this process – FEAR IS NOT BAD. I repeat, FEAR IS NOT BAD. Fear is what pushes us to survive, it is what drives us to put in an extra hour at work to make ends meet, it is what drives us to keep on going even when we want to give up. Fear does not indicate ‘bad’ but rather signifies a personal challenge for us to grow.

Exercise 6: Write down something that is exciting or inspiring about the thing that you feared!

STEP
7

Embrace Failure

Now I know what you are probably thinking. “Jessalyn, what are you talking about? Why would I want to do something scary? Facing my fears is difficult, it’s imposing, it’s uncomfortable!”. I agree, this did not make sense to me either and appeared to be a very challenging and daunting feat to face. However, when I learned about micro bravery, it made this feat seem much more achievable! Micro bravery is a tactic that is used to encourage you to do small acts of bravery to build up your courage daily. Think of bravery as a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. Take a look at this video to get a better idea of micro bravery. What Will People Think of Me? – YouTube (Start video at 0:17) Remember, we can improve our bravery in small ways by practicing brave skills. Skills are like muscles. The more you flex them, the stronger they get!

Exercise 5: Write down 1 micro bravery skill that you can do!

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