I cringe as I say and write the word, LIMITATIONS. We live in a culture that frowns upon boundaries, saying no, and “weakness”. We continue to add more to our to-do lists and fear not measuring up or failure, so we say “yes”, we keep busy. Many of us growing up were told we could be anything we wanted to be. I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. I was devastated when I tore my hamstring my senior year and was out for the rest of the season, ending my time as a track athlete. My body had restrictions. Yes I was a gifted athlete and also, I could not do it all.
A few months ago I was panicked as I had too many things requiring my attention. I felt as if I would never be finished meeting all the needs around me. A wise friend shared: “Elisa, we all have limitations and it can be so helpful and healthy to acknowledge those; to say no”. It was a tough, though needed message. Essentially, it’s okay to accept that I am human and so are you. I can certainly try to do all the things and the question is, is it worth the negative effect it may have on my emotional well being? I am thinking back to this last Olympics when Simone Biles decided to sit out for part of the competition for her mental health. Who knows what would have happened if she had continued on. Despite the huge amounts of criticism she received, there was something about this world renown athlete’s decision to step down from the pedestal we had all put her on, that freed something in me. It gave me permission to acknowledge my own needs, to set aside what it seems the world wants or needs from me and decide what I want and need from myself.
I am certainly not saying to no longer try or set goals. Those are all good things, however our achievement oriented culture becomes dangerous when our lists take away our ability to be present to ourselves and others. What if we started seeing our limits as a good thing? They often protect us so we do not hurt ourselves or others, they keep us grounded and humble–reminding us we are not in charge of running the world, and limitations help us grow in wisdom.
I would encourage you to take some time to slow down and be still, to further understand what your limits may be. Ask yourself:
- What are the limits of your temperament and personality?
- What are the limits of your current season of life?
- What are the limits of your marriage, relationship or singleness?
- What are the limits of your emotional, physical, and intellectual capabilities?
- What are the limits of your family of origin?
- What are the limits of your time?
**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).