I’m on a quest to improve myself, to transcend, to learn and grow, and to develop my skills, strengths, and divine purpose.
It’s not always easy.
My crippling fear of failure tries to keep me from “dreaming too big,” much less even making an attempt I’m even the least bit unsure about.
I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that? | Soledad O’Brien
I’ve always taken the call to use my “spiritual gifts” incredibly seriously.
At 7 years old, I read the passage of the Bible that talked about the gifts of the spirit. It talked about how we are each given them, that we should use them to make the world better… and I was hooked.
I was captivated by the notion that I had something special about me that could help others.
I became determined to figure out what it was & what it meant to “use” my spiritual gifts.
It wasn’t enough to have them. I had to know how to put them into practice. That’s still my biggest motivation today: to learn more about what it is I have to offer the world.
I, literally, yearn for that wisdom and the power of self-assurance that comes with knowing myself. It is a distinct feeling I get, the same one I got as a bright-eyed kiddo. It’s like an energetic boost upward that starts in my lat muscles and makes my sternum feel like it could just open up to let a beam of light shoot out.
It’s an uplifting & powerful feeling, to say the very least!
As a kid, I loved to help. I wanted to be around people just for the time-spendin’. And I’m that same way now, but with a shit-ton more insecurity.
Like, c’mon, H…
How am I worried about being too loving? Why am I scared to show my true feelings of joy and love?
Well… Vulnerability is hella scary.
And defense mechanisms are soooo effective. *pyerr* …make a joke: deflection… *pying* …don’t reveal your cards: protection… *whoosh* …whew, dodged that personal convo!
Avoiding disappointment is nice. Who likes getting hurt? But, never having that exposure also means missing out on an opportunity to gain. To gain happiness. To gain experience. To gain trust. To gain loved ones. To gain ground in life.
Being worried about criticism, what other people think in general, is pointless. It steals opportunity, too. It steals all the great possibilities that could come from taking a chance.
Being brave & taking a chance to go beyond my comfort zone takes practice. The more I do it, the easier it gets. Sometimes, the voice that urges me to play it safe has to be told to SHURSH & I have to remind myself who I am. Other times, I’ve already pushed so far beyond that I can’t even hear it.
As I’ve worked on going beyond my limits, here are 4 lessons I’ve learned:
Remember: Motivation matters.
If you want to go further and transcend, you need to know why you’ll do it.
Actors talk about knowing their characters’ “Why”… the same of the 5Qs is what myriad motivational figures tell people to find.
Cliché or not, it has merit.
What it is that excites you like nothing else is what will get you into a state of absolute flow.
If, right now, nobody was looking at you. Would the work you are doing make sense?
If nobody saw your photos on Instagram, would it make sense to upload them?
If no one cheered you up or kept an eye on you, would you go ahead with your project, adventure or challenge?
Who are you trying to prove your worth to? What about your worth are you trying to prove?
Digging deeper into these Q&As can help us pinpoint & understand what will push us to go to The Max.
Ask: How do I feel?
Going beyond my limits when I didn’t have someone or something external to answer to forced me to take inventory of my motivations, my intuition, and my actual feelings about things.
For a long time, I was going through the motions, trying to show everyone that I was smarter, more athletic, whatever… I was living for approval, to feel insulated by achievement.
But I really hated my life & myself.
One day, amidst all the chaos in my life and my mind, I had a little smartass thought about something & actually made myself laugh. It was the first time I had really laughed in a long time. And I remember thinking: Hey, there you are, the-Heather-I-Like.
Getting back in touch with that part of myself that day was crucial. It reminded me that I needed to live in harmony with my happiness, my truth, my better side. I had been living for everyone but myself. And I knew it had to change.
Once I felt like my happy, joke-cracking, friendly self, once I remembered the good side of Me and appreciated her, so many things changed—I fell in love, like, two weeks later; I made some great new friends; I had confidence again and started applying for professor jobs.
But, I had to feel that I truly WAS all the things I wanted to be before I was them. The good stuff I wanted had to be given the feeling necessary to make them reality.
And, especially with having depression, where it feels like my brain doesn’t have the wiring for happiness at times, I had to really get in touch with myself.
Going beyond my negative feelings to understand what they were protecting me from (or, at least, what my mind was telling itself it was) allowed me to reach into the positive feelings and push myself to hold onto them for dear life & to feel them, embody them, live them.
Have a destination.
How to go further requires knowing where ‘further’ actually is.
The real battle, I believe, is against ourselves.
You fight against the bitter taste of not being enough. You fight against your ego. You fight to prove that you are valid.
You fight against the fear of being rejected. You fight against the terror of appearing invisible. You fight against the need to love and be loved.
We fight vulnerability.
But the feelings we deem as ‘vulnerable are, as I’ve found, exactly what we should be fighting for. And my experiences with the kiddos in my life have proved those true: no matter how lousy and unsure and scared I felt, I always wanted to be a source of love and strength and uplifting to them.
I might have been crushed as a kid, but I wouldn’t allow myself to pass that on. My brother, cousins, friends’ kids, etc. showed me the destination of my most-inner truths: kindness, love, joy, and all the other good stuff kids remind us of.
Do it for yourself.
Exploring your limits is something intensely personal.
It’s easy to excel when you just go perform on a stage. It’s less easy when you don’t have one, and you have to build it yourself.
When I played volleyball in college, it was a culmination of sorts—I had gone the distance with the sport, through school and club ball, and it had gotten me something incredibly useful in my college education.
But it was simply because of my skills. It was because I could serve a team and a school. It was because my parents had put me in sports.
Sure, I had done it. But I hadn’t done it for me.
Once I started asking myself the really hard questions about what I actually wanted, things got freakin UGLY for awhile. It’s hard for me to know where to start when I don’t know where I want to end up.
That takes practice.
It takes practice to remember that we’re worth our own love and respect.
It takes practice to form a vision for the future.
It takes practice to do the things to make that vision become a reality.
But it is totally worth it. Once we accept the truth that nobody will do it for us, there’s only have one thing left: to do it yourself.
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