What’s In Your Box?

Thinking “Out of the Box,” living “out of the box,” getting out of the box – just exactly what do we mean? Actually it means a lot of things and basically refers to those limiting beliefs you hold that keep you from achieving what you want in life.

We are taught to “color inside the lines” in many areas of our lives. In othe words, someone else tells us how to act, how to think, what to know and what to believe. The degree to which we accept these directives and retain them in adulthood without examining whether they work for us or not make up the contents of our box. I’m not saying that we don’t need teachers or to learn to follow instructions – I’m just saying that we need to make decisions based upon what we have learned rather than accept every thing without examination. We also need to be discerning about what instructions we follow.

We need to know that we can be like the Jackson Pollocks and the Earnest Hemmingways of the world who broke all the rules of art and writing and created a whole new genre. Or as they say on Star Trek – we need to allow ourselves “go where no man has gone before” if only in our thinking. But we can’t do that until we break out of our box.

For starters let me ask you: what is in your box that you believe about yourself? Your beliefs about you are foundation stone for your success or failure. For clues listen to those things you say “I can’t” about; e.g.,

  1. I can’t write
  2. I can’t sing
  3. I can’t do math
  4. I can’t build good relationships
  5. I can’t get a good job
  6. I can’t cook
  7. I can’t remember things
  8. I can’t dance
  9. I can’t (you fill in the blank)

Why do you believe these things about yourself?

I remember when I was in first grade. I had a book of Mother Goose rhymes that I loved. Instead of reading the rhymes I would sit and sing them, one after another. I’m sure I was annoying and my grandmother, not one to take a prize in finesse, said “You can’t sing and never will be able to sing so stop singing those things now.” I stopped. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I discovered I could sing well enough to be a part of the choir. I believed my grandmother and still, when asked to sing, remember her words.

Make a list of your “I can’ts” and try to remember their origins. Did someone tell you you couldn’t? Did you try once and fail at it? Did someone do it better and you decided not to try again? Does believing that you cannot really apply to you now?

There may be some things that you are right about not having a talent folr. I’m a terrible dancer – I have five left feet and, even though I can feel the rhythm of the music, something happens when I try to follow it. I am challenged to keep time with a metronome. But given a chance, I still give it a try. I love music and am a wonderful member of the audience. I concentrate more on t hose things I am good at doing and don’t get negative about not being a good dancer.

So, for today, examine your “I can’ts” realistically. Are they true about you or are they something you have carried in your mind and have never really given an open minded try?

Doing this will give you a big clue about how to get out of your box.

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