Many inspirational quotes (and most coaching philosophies) champion the idea of living without limits. Living without limits opens up energies of expansion, of “not settling”, of creating high goals, and bypassing or transcending self-imposed limits.
Living without limitations can be scary and wonderful and unnerving and growth inducing.
However, there are times in life where the limitations that we choose —or those that are thrust upon us—also contain gifts. These limitations promote a different kind of growth.
Limitations often speak to us through what folksinger Adrienne Jones calls “the hollow throat of loss”. They don’t seem to be “chosen” so much as thrust upon us.
When we (or loved ones) get sick, or lose a job, or a relationship, plans and possibilities change. The “hollow throat of loss” interprets the options as limited, as less worthy than our previous circumstances.
Anytime we make a choice (including the ones that seem to be thrust upon us), other options disappear. If the disappearing options seem more attractive than the one we’re left with, our world may seem limited and uncomfortable.
We may wear the new circumstances like an uncomfortable suit of clothes in a fashion and color that’s simply “not us”.
Even if we chafe against the restrictions, it can be a mistake to dismiss our changed circumstance as a detour from our “real life”.
One of the primary gifts of limitations can be a renewed focus on things we’d rather not address.
For instance, if you have to postpone school/work or other obligations to care for a sick relative, your energy and attention is more focused on your relative and your relationship.
What remains comes into greater focus and clarity. Typically, what’s left is something we’ve taken for granted, or felt no need to change. Sometimes the changed circumstances even feel so private and inconsequential to the outside world, that we may be tempted to dismiss what’s going on as inconsequential in our own life.
Every life cycles in a constant expansion or contraction, like the ocean tides. Expansion seems so much more fun to share with the world.
But if your life is temporarily restricted and less “full” than you’d like, discover what is clear and in focus about this cycle. What gift is being given to you?
Know there is heroism in fully engaging in a restricted life, whether or not the world acknowledges it.
And may we pursue our path, acknowledging our heroism in keeping going, even when the path seems to disappear,