The one thing that stopped me from being the best I could be
And how to move from limiting beliefs to a world of abundance.
I know where it came from. My parents had it and still have it big time. So did their parents before them. That feeling that there wasn’t enough. If they won, someone else had to lose. If they used their money, it would be gone forever. If we used something, anything, it should be justified. Nothing was to be wasted. Their biggest fear was always that they would run out of money or not be able to keep up with others.
Growing up, my father was always the one holding back in the family. He didn’t want to spend any money, he questioned every need we claimed to have. He always seemed worried about the future, even though we always had what we needed.
He was so proud and always tried to make himself look good. He wanted us kids to believe that he was smarter than his colleagues and that he had it all figured out. He was the one who had found the secret tricks to making money and being successful. I believed his stories and admired him for years. I always tried to impress him and to get his attention, but he rarely saw me. I was sixteen when I noticed for the first time that my father wasn’t perfect at all. That’s when I first saw his anxieties and how small his world really was.
My mother took care of the home and cooked all our meals. There was never enough food. Not that we couldn’t afford it, but because it somehow seemed excessive to my parents to spend more money on food than was absolutely necessary. My brother and I would throw ourselves at the dishes like starving vultures when dinner was served. We were always hungry and fought for our portions. In fact, we fought for everything. There was constant competition in our family for food, for attention and for love.
There was never enough to go around — that was the constant feeling. You could only gain when others lost. This anxious scarcity mindset was transferred to us the same way my parents had received it from their families.
When I moved out to start my own life, I knew that I had to fight for my place in the world. I was angry right from the get go and prepared to struggle. I pushed myself ahead and above others. I had to be better, do better and become more successful faster. I had to yell louder, be first and take what I needed — if necessary at the expense of others.
This constant fear of not getting enough was coupled with low self-confidence, which led to an impossibly frustrating situation. Internally, I had to believe that I was better than others, out of pure survival instinct. But in reality, I didn’t have enough confidence to push myself ahead. Looking at it now, I am glad I didn’t have that confidence, because it would have made me a totally insufferable human being! Instead, I was only angry, negative and frustrated. Not the most charming combination either, but quite harmless in comparison.
I was never genuinely happy for others. How could I be, when I believed that their success would inevitably take something away from mine. I gossiped about others. I had to point out their shortcomings, in order to highlight my own strengths. I was certain that I would never make mistakes as stupid as theirs. I didn’t focus on networking and making friends. People would never have understood me anyway. That was my firm belief.
I didn’t see it at all. I didn’t understand that all I was doing, was adding to my own limitations. I was making it impossible for myself to succeed in any significant way. I was alienating others and thought I would be strong enough alone. I was so tangled up in my narrow view of the world, I could no longer work my way out of it. I didn’t see how everything was connected. With my limiting beliefs, I didn’t realize that I could never be my best without also offering my best to others.
I have learned now, many years later, that the universe is abundant. I know that the limitations are only my own. I know that my parents are not to blame. I know that others are not trying to steal my success. I know that there is no such thing as perfection. I know that trying to be superior is exactly what keeps us from performing at our best in any aspect of life. I know that I will never be able to fully love someone, until I learn to accept myself and others as we are and truly understand that one of us is not better than the other.
When I first understood this, I started peeling away layers and shields of anger, pride and perfectionism. I moved slowly, being too scared to let it all go at once. I didn’t know how to be confident and humble and the same time. I didn’t know how to be generous without losing something. I didn’t know how to trust others and the universe when I had always just looked out for myself. I didn’t know how to love, when I had always believed that being lovable required perfection. I didn’t know how to take responsibility, when I had always blamed everything and everyone around me for all obstacles in my way.
It was completely overwhelming.
How do I learn to think big, when all my life has been about surviving with the minimum? How do I trust that I will receive, when I haven’t been giving?
How can I be brave enough to stand naked, when I have always lived with heavy shields around me for protection?
How do I reach out for help, when my greatest pride in life is that I’ve always taken care of myself?
I am still working on the answers to these questions. But now, I have cast away my limitations to the point of no return. Now, I am open. Now, I am humble about the long journey ahead. Now, I know how much I still have to learn.
And now, I act from these beliefs;
- Love is limitless. Love does not come with conditions.
- The universe does not make judgements.
- Thinking that resources are scarce, only creates more scarcity.
- We don’t always get what we want, but if we work hard, open our minds and become eternal students, there are no limits as to how far we can go.
- We can’t win if we don’t place a bet and accept that risk. Being vulnerable is being brave.
- Making a difference for someone else is what will make the most difference to us.
- Happiness comes from acceptance and love.
- The more you give, the richer you will be.
I know that if I can live in the spirit of these new beliefs, I will inevitably be the best I can be, both for myself and for everyone around me.
That’s certainly not how I started living my life. But it is how I want to live the rest of it.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —