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How to Move Past Self-Imposed Limitations

“Nancy, can you tell me why I can never get past a certain point? I can see big things for myself, but every time I start to focus on my vision – I only get so far? Whether it’s my workouts, my business or my relationships, I always hit the same ceiling over and over.”

From the outside, you might think that Ellen has it all figured out. 

She’s an anchor for her friends, she runs her own business and although her marriage has some ups and downs, she and her partner work hard to keep things strong.

Yet Ellen will be the first to tell you that she feels frustrated and can’t figure out why she bumps up against the same limitations over and over.

She can see her vision clearly in every area of her life, and has even done quite a bit of work on herself, but can’t seem to break through that ceiling to achieve her greatest dreams.

And now her inability to go as far as she dreams is starting to impact her self esteem.

She wonders what’s wrong with her and, despite her achievement, Ellen feels a bit like she’s failing. She even watches others and wonders what they know that she doesn’t.

And while it might be tempting to tell Ellen that she’s being too hard on herself, the truth is that Ellen’s feelings are common for so many.

As an overachiever, Ellen places high demands on herself and can get frustrated if she doesn’t achieve perfection in all her goals. 

She also quietly doubts whether she truly has what it takes to be a success in every area of her life.

She so badly wants what she supports others to achieve, but always seems to fall just shy of where she wants to be.

So, when Ellen came to me with this question, she desperately wanted to know what else she could do in order to break past her obstacles and finally enjoy the success she knew was within her grasp.

Now, if you’re like Ellen, you probably look back over your life and remember the times when you had the willpower to do great things. You figure that you’ll channel those feelings into this new goal and surely this time you’ll cross the finish line.

But the problem with that kind of thinking is that willpower is actually a very small part of the equation.

In truth, there is something bigger at play.

The reason Ellen keeps falling back into self-sabotaging patterns and bumping up against repeated limitations is that Ellen’s unconscious programming is holding her back.

Driven by her shadow beliefs (unconscious limiting beliefs) and her fears, Ellen is actually holding herself back.

Perhaps deep down she fears the responsibility success brings.

Perhaps she believes that others will no longer accept her if she achieves greater success.

Perhaps she fears being disappointed if she pushes further and doesn’t get what she wants.

Whatever your fears and beliefs, if you keep bumping up against limitations like Ellen, you can be certain that there’s something else you’re unconsciously committed to that is bigger than your stated goals.

And what’s also likely is that deep down, you may not feel worthy of the things you say you want!

Ultimately, we all want to feel like we belong, that we deserve to rise and achieve the things we want.

When we don’t achieve our goals, we begin to feel unworthy of achieving them.

As Ellen shared with me, her inability to get the things she desperately wanted was making her feel like she wasn’t good enough. That she didn’t deserve to have everything she wanted.

Ellen isn’t alone. 

In fact, we all tend to put obstacles or blocks in our way when we’re afraid of getting hurt. 

In Ellen’s case it might be that, counterintuitive as it may be, she’s more committed to avoiding the pain associated with rejection than she is to  reaching her big goals so, unconsciously, she creates limits that give her just a taste of success while never putting her fully at risk of full-blown pain… or expansion

It might not seem to make sense to our conscious mind, but when I helped Ellen see this, it became clear to her how her own doubts, fears and beliefs were sabotaging her success!

This allowed her to look at her own resistance and recognize that it wasn’t that others had something she didn’t – but instead that she was unconsciously doing (or not doing) things that guaranteed falling short.

With that awareness, Ellen was able to make new choices and consciously take more responsibility for herself in every area of her life.

So, knowing all this is possible for you, too – what can you do?

If you keep bumping up against the same limitations or repeating the same bad patterns, it’s time to take a hard look at your beliefs and commitments!

As I always share, be willing to be curious without judging yourself or making your past wrong.

Be fascinated about what is really going on and what obstacles you might be placing in front of your success.

Ask yourself some of these important questions . . .

. . . what do I believe about my ability to achieve my goals?

. . . what do I fear will happen if I reach my goals?

. . . what do I fear will happen if I don’t reach my goals?

. . . what am I committed to more than the things I say I want?

Whether you choose to meditate or journal, consider these questions and allow yourself to trust the answers that come up. Become aware of all of the unconscious commitments, fears and doubts that have been driving your choices.

Because when you do, you can replace your outdated commitments and start to make choices aligned with your success.

So, what are some of your unconscious commitments and fears that have held you back? Naming them is the first step to freedom.


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