Important lesson for our kids: Sometimes you choose to test your limits; sometimes life tests them for you.
You choose to test your limits when you volunteer for a project that will require the best in you, leave home to study for a year in a foreign country, train for a marathon or triathlon, follow your passion when others encourage you to be fit in and blend. You choose them – you want to see what you are made of.
Then there are times when Life tests you – you get sick, fail at something important, have to deal with a family divorce, bankruptcy or move away from friends and family. We can’t hide from these. You find yourself pushed past limits you have defined – limits that you would never had tested if life didn’t force you to test them.
Are You Afraid to Test Your Limits?
We create our comfort zone by defining our limits – and as long as we stay within what we have defined, life seems fine. We get comfortable and in this comfort, we start to believe this is all there is. This is how we stop dreaming and achieving.
Our brain is in on this too – it says, “stay safe, play small.” After all, a big part of our brain is committed to helping us to stay safe – to notice our world for danger and change, (particularly of pushing our limits) is danger to our brain. It says “stay away,” “do what you know,” “do what others do,” play it safe.” In the process we can miss out on building our best lives and finding out what we are really made of. We settle.
To have a brain that wants us to stay safe is a good thing. But as the ancient philosophers always shared this wisdom: “nothing too much” – we don’t have to be in fear mode all the time. This is encouraged by our 24-hour news cycle filled with news about terror and danger – encouraging us all to be more focused on danger than on living. The good news is that with awareness, we can notice when we are stuck in fear mode, when we play small and when we settle. We can then thank our brain for its intention to keep us safe and choose (on purpose) to push forward in the face of a obstacle or to push past a limit.
Help your kids be resilient
Helping our kids learn how not give in and give up when life is challenging is a critical skill. As we walk with them to help them discover what they are good at and passionate about, we help them discover and develop their “inventory of abilities” – the same abilities that they can count on and use when life shares a challenge or obstacle – to push past their limits.
As we use our abilities, we see that both we are all more capable and resilient than we thought. We can see that when we are confronted with difficult things we would never have chosen – we can and do survive – we can come through them stronger, wiser and braver. This teaches our kids and us that many of our limits are truly imaginary – they seem alive and powerful in our minds until we test them and see that they vanish.
Walking with our kids as they are forced to deal with life’s challenges trains them how to tap into their abilities – to see that many limits are only imagined. We can help them learn to discover, develop and live their unique abilities as the means to not only dealing with life’s challenges and obstacles, but to use them to invent a bold, happy, successful and responsible life. And it is the same for us.
How are you helping your kids test their limits – and in the process, test yours?