Striving for improvement of ourselves and our environment appears to be a constant struggle against restrictions, rules, and other limitations: at home, at school, at work, within the community or country we belong to, “the rest of the world”, and, not to forget, against our own flaws, beliefs, and habits.
Because of this struggle – or rather, our desire to control – we tend to perceive “limitation” as something negative which stands between what we want and what confronts us every moment. Potential and limitations however are nothing but the two extreme aspects of “What Is”. It’s up to us to choose, actively and consciously, which side of this coin we want to look at.
There’s one problem though: How much of our potential is “visible” to us? Our imagination is to a great degree limited by our own, previous experience and what we have observed, that is other people’s opinions and examples. What we believe to be possible (regardless of whether or not we know how to achieve it) is only a tiny part of the real potential around us.
Before writing existed, our ancestors transferred knowledge and wisdom through storytelling, songs, dances, paintings and artefacts. All was accessible to a very limited audience only and spread slowly. Details and content changed according to interpretation, and often the original source or its meaning was lost over time. Even after sophisticated writing systems were in place, only few highly educated persons were able to read, write, copy. They (or their employers) controlled what was recorded.
The adventure of imagination
How was it when you learned how to read: Did you marvel at those new worlds opening up in front of you and got lost in them? And now, when reading a book or articles, do you feel the wonder of entering someone else’s mind as expressed in fiction, poetry, and also non-fiction like how-to’s, essays, news? Do you like those short, concise and easy to recall bits of condensed wisdom we call inspirational or motivational quotes?
Whenever we learn – that is open up to something new to us – our perspective changes. We go “beyond our imagination” as we would have previously described it. Connecting these new dots leads to more new worlds of our own creation, which we can share with others in turn.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. Albert Einstein
Still, we prefer knowledge, maybe because we can measure it? Potential can be very evasive. At times we may get lucky and have an idea of what we want. This can happen directly through dreams or inspiration, but more often than not we only approach it via our likes and dislikes, or by comparing ourselves and what we’ve got to who others are and what they have. In other words, we become aware of potential through what is limiting us or what we lack.
Self-fulfilment through limitations?
Our limitations help us to filter and sort through our potential, to close in on our dreams. They point us to the first feasible small steps towards them.
Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Flying beyond limitations is about choosing to change, about opening one’s mind and turning limitation into an opportunity for realising our potential.
This shift of attitude, from blocking limitations to embracing them with a sense of adventure, is incredibly empowering. What would you prefer: Spending a lot of energy on trying to control what you can’t, blocking off what you don’t want – or perhaps freedom of choice, eagerness and excitement about having the ability to shape your life?
Take a piece of paper and a pen with you. Whenever you find yourself evaluating, comparing or “not liking”, say “thank you for this opportunity” and take a short note of what you did. Don’t analyse these notes, their only purpose is to make you consciously aware of how much and how often you let yourself be limited. You may even find out that your list turns into a tally sheet 😉
Enjoy your flight 🙂
Image Source: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via gimp-savvy.com
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