Limiting beliefs can be paralyzing

“You remember Christine, don’t you, Sarah?” Sarah and her mother had gone to the hospital to visit Bart, a neighbour who had recently suffered a debilitating stroke. Bart’s wife, Christine, was pushing him down the hallway in a wheelchair when they arrived. Bart didn’t look the way Sarah remembered him — happy with rosy cheeks and a twinkle in his blue eyes.

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” — Richard Bach, American best-selling author.

“You remember Christine, don’t you, Sarah?”

Sarah and her mother had gone to the hospital to visit Bart, a neighbour who had recently suffered a debilitating stroke. Bart’s wife, Christine, was pushing him down the hallway in a wheelchair when they arrived. Bart didn’t look the way Sarah remembered him — happy with rosy cheeks and a twinkle in his blue eyes.

He looked small, crumpled up and desperately sad. “Such a shame,” declared Christine in a low voice. “He can’t even feed himself.” Sarah’s mother said hello and touched Bart’s hand but he didn’t respond.

“He can’t speak and I’m not sure he understands a word I say to him.” Sarah recalled that Bart barely spoke even before the stroke. A quiet man, Bart’s voice was soft and thin — barely audible — as if he had somehow forgotten of the mechanics of speech.

“You spend years with your husband then one day the man you knew is gone.”

Sarah thought it was an odd statement. Bart wasn’t gone. He was sitting right there. As Christine continued, Sarah walked around to the side of Bart’s wheelchair. “No use talking to Mister Bart,” counselled Christine. “He won’t know you, child.”

She turned to Sarah’s mother and mouthed the words, “Brain damage.” As if for emphasis, she tapped herself twice on the temple then shook her head and sighed heavily.

“Hello, Mister Bart,” Sarah said. “You remember me, don’t you?”

“Come away, Sarah,” said Sarah’s mother, reaching out her hand. Slowly, the blue eyes looked up. Bart’s brow furrowed and he blinked a few times as if struggling to focus his eyes. Then, much to everyone’s surprise, a slight smile formed on Bart’s face. He took Sarah’s hand gently in his own as tears began to run down his cheeks.

“He knows me!” declared Sarah. “Mister Bart knows me!”

Sarah’s story, as related to me, happened nearly 40 years ago. Significant advancements have been made since in the care provided to stroke survivors.

Attitudes too have shifted considerably.

With early intervention and improved methods of treatment, many stroke survivors can look forward to significant if not full recovery. At the time, Bart’s family held out little hope for his recovery. Even a partial gain seemed unlikely.

The focus was understandably on limitations rather than possibilities. Sarah’s question and Bart’s response to it shifted the focus. In a sense, limitations are simply judgments we visit upon ourselves and others.

They can be mental, emotional and yes, physical. Although some limitations are justified, most are illusional.

By this I mean, we often rein ourselves in or fail to attempt because we believe our attempt will end in failure. Limiting beliefs are founded upon fear and fear can often be paralyzing.

Intellectual and emotional limitations can be challenging to target and overcome, primarily because most people have no idea of what’s really true — they have never put themselves or their beliefs to the test. Most limitations are actually someone else’s opinion resulting from early programming. To shift our programming, we must first reconsider what we accept as true.

We must know our limitations (real and illusional) before we can surpass them.

Before starting an exercise regimen, we must first assess our current level of physical fitness.

It is equally vital to assess our present emotional, mental and spiritual state before challenging perceived limitations.

In her New York Times best-selling book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey, Jill Bolte Taylor tells her story of a devastating stroke and seven-year journey back to health and wellness. A powerful, inspiring account, Bolte Taylor writes of facing and ultimately overcoming a variety of limitations — real and perceived, personal and societal ­­— in regard to her physical, emotional, mental and spiritual recovery. “Pay attention to what you are thinking and then decide if those are thoughts that are creating the kind of life you want created,” says Bolte Taylor. “And if (they’re) not, then change your thoughts. It’s really that easy.”

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t (despite the potential of do so) it’s probably owing to a self-limiting belief.

If you have a lot of excuses or defence mechanics in place and use them often, you are likely dealing with a self-limiting belief. Many fear-filled people will vehemently defend their limitations.

Don’t be one of those people! Have courage and be persistent. Challenge limitations!

Give yourself permission to try — doing so will help pull out the stops, allowing the impossible to become possible and very likely, achievable.

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations,” writes Sharon Salzberg, New York Times best-selling author and motivator. “If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or 10,000 years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated.

“Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.”

Sarah didn’t accept Bart’s alleged limitation and yes, owing to her age or naivety. Nonetheless, when it became apparent that Bart (despite legitimate physical limitations) was able to recognize people and express emotion, his treatment was adjusted accordingly. When limitations are removed, all things become possible. What limitations have you place upon others in your life and, more importantly, what limitations have you placed upon yourself?

To learn more about strokes: prevention, symptoms, treatment and recovery, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation website at www.heartandstroke.ca. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor is available from your favourite book seller.

Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read