Learn to reject the external limitations people place on you, and create your own healthy limitations. Living with limitations can be healthy, and is a practice that everyone should learn. There is a difference between the limitations that others place on your capabilities and the limitations you CHOOSE to place on your life so that you have a healthier balance. (Screw other people’s limitations they place on you…let me just get that out of the way upfront)
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been wired to go above and beyond. I remember being in kindergarten and we were being tested on counting. I had to count to 10 or something (big deal). Most kids went out in the hall with the teacher and counted to 10-passed the little test and went back in the room. I went out into the hall, and the teacher asked me to count to 10. I did. She told me I could go back in, but I asked her if I could count to 100 for her instead. That is just me. Pretty sure I ended my numerical performance with a back hand spring into a split. “Ta Da!” Poor teacher had to sit through that…I owe her an apology letter now that I think about it.
My point is that I’ve been “wired” this way since I was 5 years old! I’ve learned, from a young age, to reject limitations, push myself, and never quit. Success or failure was never an option for me. I would always succeed. If I had the slightest inkling that I might not deliver an A+++++ performance of some sort, then I just wouldn’t even attempt it. Ashlee would only deliver the best. Always. Can you see how these kinds of limitations can be detrimental? I would save all of my report cards that had A’s and O’s (for outstanding back in the day)…and throw away anything that reflected I was less than that. Hearing constant positive feedback from teachers actually had a negative effect on my potential because I started to only want to do things that I knew I was good at.
Don’t get me wrong – I had my “down” time when things weren’t quite going my way – but that was also my own decision. I lost my drive for a bit. But it never left me…it was just buried down deep for awhile. To be honest – I got tired of always being an over achiever. It was stressful! It was always all or nothing. If I was going to do something , I wasn’t just going to complete the task…I was going smash it….because that is what I learned people expected of me. These are the limitations placed on me from the outside. These are the ones that became detrimental.
I slowly (very slowly) learned that I couldn’t live this way. I was actually limiting my experiences because I was scared I might not be stellar at something, so I just wouldn’t try it. That’s not living! I wanted to live. I started trying new things, and I’m not going to say that I was good at every new thing I tried at first. But – that inner drive that was hard-wired in me starting to resurface. Through dedication and practice – I found that I could be amazing at so many things, even if it took some time and I had to fail a few times before succeeding. And that was ok! That’s what life is about…trying new things…experiencing new things. What I gained out of this practice was a solid personality trait of dedication (and not just when it came to things I was good at). Instead of quitting something when I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be the best, I embraced the experience. I went in knowing that it was MY best. Maybe in comparison to other people, I wasn’t THE best…but it was the best Ashlee.
When I was preparing for my WBFF show in 2013, I definitely had many moments that could have been classified as “failures”. Many of those episodes would have prompted me to quit, just give up. But I never did. It’s not about falling…it’s about how quickly you get back up. I remember in moments of weakness downing 4 bagels smothered in butter (not even joking). Competition prep makes you do crazy shit. Anyway…normally I would have called it quits and given up. I didn’t do that. I texted people for support, called some friends…got the reassurance I needed and moved on. I remember my trainer/coach/friend, Aundrea, having no sympathy for me and saying things like, “Ok….so what are you going to do now?” Or “What are you going to differently next time?” That helped me. I would get down on myself, thinking – “Oh my God! The other girls I’m competing against aren’t crying in their kitchen eating bagels in a moment of weakness for God sake!” This was also the wrong approach. I was limiting my potential here by comparing myself to everyone else…when the focus should have been on me.
When it comes to growth, this is who you should be in competition with anyway! Yourself. We are all uniquely different individuals. Compare your life and yourself ONLY to YOU. This is how you create your own healthy limitations. When you decide you want to live a better life, not for the sake of being “better” than the person next to you…but for the sake of being better than you were yesterday – you are on the right track.
Limitations can be placed around the people you surround yourself with, the energy that you surround yourself with, and the time you spend doing certain tasks. It took me a long time to learn this. But, I am in control of my life and decisions. It’s a very simple statement, but when you actually start to believe it and practice it – it is so powerful. I am in control of my reactions, my feelings, and state of mind. I have learned to set limitations around which people I let affect my mood, which people I let into my life, what activities I spend my time doing, and how much time I dedicate to the things that truly matter. I read an exercise awhile back that went something like this:
Ask yourself – “If I could do __________ every day, I would”. What would you fill your blank in with? It might be multiple things! Mine was.
And then follow up with – “What am I doing TODAY to fulfill what I want to be doing with my time every day?”
My blanks looked like this:
-Spend more time with family
-Focus on meaningful relationships with friends
-Help people feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally
-Find time to relax
-Try new things
-Be more positive and loving towards myself
And, what am I doing today to get closer to my goals?
-Re-arranging priorities so I can attend more events with family
-Attend more events with friends, keep in closer contact (Sounds weird – but I’m kind of a home-body and it takes some effort on my side…I enjoy my alone time immensely! But I’m ALWAYS happier when I’m around my friends)
-Practicing thankfulness and gratitude…filtering out negativity
-Workout! This doesn’t always have to take place in a gym, either. Sometimes I don’t have time! Dance parties and running around with Carter, walks with the fam, etc. I find the time!
-Helping people is my forte. It is what fills my soul with happiness. If someone is down, I want to lift them up. If someone is unhealthy and not sure how to change, I want to offer advice. If someone is stuck in a rut, I want to listen and help them dig out. Friends, family, strangers…I am always looking to help people.
-Relaxing has never been easy for me…but I’ve learned how necessary it is. I try to take even 5 minutes a day to just fully relax and take myself to a happy place
-Trying new things is something that I am always open to, but I want to start seeking out new things to try, and not waiting for them to fall in my lap. That’s my goal here.
-Blocking certain content on the internet (Facebook/Instagram/etc.) because it negatively affects my mood or how I feel about myself. It is truly amazing how much social media affects how you start to view yourself. I’ve learned to filter things and it’s actually made a HUGE difference.
All in all, limitations can be a good thing. It takes the right perspective to view it this way – but you can see why my experiences have contributed to this belief. Give it a shot – it’s your life….you should be living it your way – not the way anyone else wants you to.