“It is not our physical state that limits us, it is our mindset about our own limits, our perceptions, that draws the lines in the sand.” — Ellen Langer
A group of men in their seventies and eighties were sent to a retreat to live as they did 20 years ago. They socialized, did chores, and basically acted likeit was 20 years earlier (1959). After a week, they had great improvements in their strength, memory, and even intelligence. According to Business Insider, lead researcher Ellen Langer wrote “men who seemed so frail just days before ended up playing an impromptu touch football game on the front lawn.”
How many times do you hear someone say “I’m getting old” and then notice they stop doing the things they used to do? Don’t we all say things like “I’m not an X person,” “I could never do X,” “I wish I had done X, but I’m too old now,” or “I don’t do moderation.”
We do this with children, too. We are certain our children could never do certain things because they are too shy, anxious, picky, you name it. Maybe we become convinced a child doesn’t know what full is, doesn’t like sports, or would never eat a certain dish.
What we choose to tell ourselves (and those we love) has great power over our lives, as does the cultural messages we choose to accept or reject. This can result in what psychologists call confirmation bias. We believe something and look for evidence to prove it is true while ignoring evidence to the contrary. We say we can’t do moderation and sure enough we end up eating all the cookies.
These labels become the limits in which we live our lives. But the good news is that because we are the ones that put them there, we can also remove them.
This week lets notice when we limit ourselves and those we love and ask if the limit is really true. How does removing the limit open up the world of possibility?