Focusing on Our Limitations

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

Many of us spend a great deal insisting on our limitations: “I can’t do that,” “That’s the way I am,” or “I’ll never have a loving relationship,” and many other negative and self-defeating statements.  Our minds are powerful faculties.  When we decide that something is true about us or something is beyond our reach it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Case in point, when we tell ourselves, “I can’t write”, we would look for examples in our life that proves our claim.  We would remember our poor essays in high school, or recall how we feel dumb the last time we sat down to write a letter.  We fill our head with limitations that will frighten us from trying.  In order to become a writer or anything else, the first step is to silence your greatest critic—you.   Don Miguel Ruiz says, this is one of the biggest sins against yourself which is self-rejection.  Repeatedly berating yourself distracts you from making corrective action.

The second step in defeating that negative self-talk is to be realistic.  Try to go to the root cause of your imagined limitations.  In the stress management seminars that I conduct, I would discuss one of the ways of facing worries through the three-step method authored by the great philosopher Aristotle: (1) Get the facts of the problem (2) Analyze the facts (3) Arrive at a decision and then act on the decision.  Let’s say you are afraid to go deep water when swimming.  The fact of the problem is you might drown.  In analyzing the facts, the solution to your fear is to learn how to swim.  But you feel you are too old to learn swimming.  You think learning how to swim is only for kids.  Analyze the facts further, who says anyone is too old to learn.  There is no such thing as age requirement for swimming.  Arrive at a decision, ask around from friends and relatives for a swimming coach or search the internet.  Then act on the decision, enroll for a swimming lesson.  You will then realize your limitation of learning how to swim is just caused by your laziness, or your adult pride of being embarrassed not knowing how to swim.  It’s not really caused by your lack of ability because even one year old babies can swim.

There are people who would say to themselves, “I always mess up my relationship.” And they are always late on a date, and tell their partner, “Sorry, I’m always late.”  Or they would always come up with a reason to argue with their boyfriend or girlfriend and would say to themselves, “I’m always getting into arguments” and conclude “See, it happens every time.  I’ll never have a good relationship.”  If these people are realistic and do some deep self-reflection, they will arrive at the conclusion: it’s not that I am really born or destined to ruin relationships but it’s my attitude.  These people should stop labeling themselves as “relationship destroyer” because everyone can change.  They should make use of their God given and life-changing human faculty: our freedom or our ability to make choices with our attitude.  Let’s make that crucial decision to change and make it our own the chorus of Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” as our theme.


I’m starting with the man in the mirror,

I’m asking him to change his ways

And no message could have been any clearer

If you want to make the world a better place

Take a look at yourself and make that change.