Years ago, I realized that our most difficult personal challenges offer a unique opportunity to raise our sights, explore new potentials and possibilities, and cast off beliefs of limitation and doubt. Personal challenges are a way of working things out for ourselves and discovering new creative approaches for old problems.
It’s tempting to view personal challenges, such as depression, eating disorders, addictions, or weight issues as an illness or disease that must be fought or medicated, or as a shameful inner enemy that needs to be conquered. However, an alternate view is that challenges are our personal attempt to rise above inner repression, self-doubt, and insecurity. Rising to life’s challenges and overcoming personal obstacles is how we grow into a new higher potential of love and fulfillment.
Although it may feel unfair, an obstacle is not a big test put upon us by the universe. Instead, we are aware of an obstacle only when we have brought ourselves to the edge of our current abilities. While we’re standing at the edge, things can certainly look bleak and hopeless. We can feel overwhelmed and desperately wish that someone would wave a magic wand and whisk away all our problems. But if we could see our situation from a higher perspective we could also see that through the challenge we are learning that we can rely on ourselves even in the most difficult of situations.
Personal challenges help us to build a new identity. Through them we discover how to develop empowering self-leadership skills. By necessity, because we eventually try everything else, challenges lead us to reach inside and activate creativity, inner resourcefulness, and wisdom. Personal challenges necessitate that you must dig deeper than you ever thought possible – and what you discover is unexpected reservoirs of confidence, determination, self-esteem, and self-love.
Facing a Dead-End
If you are dealing with depression, addiction, anxiety and panic, an eating disorder, or repeated attempts at weight loss, you are dealing with a major personal challenge. These are the types of challenges that take you to down a long and difficult path… only to one day find yourself facing a dead-end. Not knowing how you can possibly move beyond your problem, you will feel worn out and discouraged, absolutely not knowing how to move forward.
Feelings of hopelessness, ineptitude, unworthiness, or even shame curse through your mind and body. All the negative beliefs you have about your inability to achieve success rise to the surface. You will feel so badly that you will berate yourself for ever thinking you could achieve your goal or overcome your challenge. You’ll wish you had never started this stupid journey. However, this dead-end, this place of excruciating self-doubt and agony is exactly the place you need to be right now.
A dead-end obstacle represents restrictive beliefs you hold about yourself, repressive beliefs about your ability to have what you want, or painful beliefs about life itself. The horrible feelings you are experiencing are not there because you are inadequate, being punished, or undeserving. Instead, because you stepped forward into creating change, the old beliefs that you once held hidden deeply within yourself have now become exposed.
Limiting beliefs are ideas that hold you back and keep you from becoming the person you want to be. Most times limiting beliefs are not true, but because you believe them to be true they act like brakes on your progress. Limiting beliefs can include ideas that some there is some character trait about you that is inescapable or unchangeable.
If you feel that some area of your life isn’t the way you want it be, yet you feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless to change it, then you probably have limiting beliefs. Here are a few examples of limiting beliefs:
I am bad.
I won’t succeed, so there’s no point in trying.
I lack the ability to achieve my goal.
I can’t have what I want.
I’m not good enough.
I don’t deserve what I want.
I’m afraid of success.
Exposing the Land of Limitation
If you are facing an obstacle, don’t stop now. Although you would rather not be facing such difficulty, it is important that you keep going. Generally our limiting beliefs are hidden away – out of mind and out of sight. But because of your personal challenge you took risks and tried new actions. You wanted to see if you could move beyond your current reality.
Your actions led you to discover that so far you cannot have success, you cannot have what you want. And this is the point of your journey, to bring to the surface your limiting beliefs, your emotional resistance, and all the reasons why you believe you can’t have what you most want. Your challenge or goal is showing you the difference between the current reality that you live in and the reality that you want to live in. Something would have to be different… and that something is you.
Feelings Speak About What Is – Not What Can Be
You may not recognize your exact limiting belief, but when you are facing an obstacle you almost always can feel the energy that goes with your belief. Sometimes a limiting belief will make you feel anxious or angry. Other times you may feel overwhelmed, irritated, lethargic, or even depressed. If you’re feeling hopeless, helpless, or like you are about to collapse in front of your goal, chances are you are in direct contact with a limiting belief.
What’s the solution? Take a breath, don’t run away from what you are feeling, and be willing to admit consciously what you believe to be true about you or your ability to navigate through this situation. As your beliefs rise to the surface, they will bring with them a plethora of difficult emotions. These emotions tell you what you currently believe about who you are and what you can be.
A New Potential Reality
There is the potential of a happier, brighter, more expansive reality beyond your obstacle. Yet, there’s a catch. That reality doesn’t exist yet. It has to be imagined, created, and allowed first – by you. To get to the other side of the obstacle requires envisioning yourself living the type of life you want to be living, and gaining new beliefs that will support you living that life. That’s the purpose of your challenge. You’re not fighting against what you don’t want, you are in the process of choosing the life you want to live, and then building the self-supportive beliefs necessary to allow you to live that life. If you are facing an obstacle, back up and examine your challenge. Why you want what you want, and what strengths you will gain by creating that success in your life?
How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs
Many of our limiting beliefs are stubborn, deeply entrenched, and feel unbearable. Yet to get beyond your challenge requires facing your current beliefs about life, others, and yourself, and seeing where those beliefs limit and hold you back. Instead of turning back in defeat or pushing relentlessly against an unmovable wall, decide to get acquainted with your beliefs.
Becoming aware of limiting beliefs is typically challenging, since beliefs tend to remain hidden in our subconscious. But if you are attempting to overcome a personal challenge, then you are in luck! With every new action you take, your fears and limiting beliefs are bound to rise up out of hiding. When they do, you can calmly ask yourself these questions:
What exactly are you telling yourself when the situation seems unachievable?
What do you feel to be true about yourself when you are facing a dead-end?
Why is your goal unattainable?
What skills do you lack to attain it?
Why don’t you deserve to achieve your goal?
How does this belief keep you safe?
What benefit do you get from holding this belief?
Although overcoming a personal challenge is frightening and uncomfortable, instead of treating it like an enemy, embrace it like a friend. It’s a golden opportunity to uncover deep, self-limiting beliefs and replace them with new self-empowering beliefs. To overcome your self-limiting beliefs, examine the beliefs you hold. Question their validity. Journal about them. Take a conscious look at them, and decide if those beliefs are really the ones you want to hold in your future. And then take action to replace them with better ones.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Your Highest Potential: The New Psychology of Understanding and Working with Self. This new energy book reveals how to overcome your own limiting belief systems and move forward to create the life you dream of living!
Dr. Annette Colby can show you how to fall in love with who you really are, how to trust your true feelings, and how to create harmony with your mind, body, and spirit to gain a new sense of purpose and passion. Learn how with a FREE subscription to Loving Miracles weekly newsletter. Sign-up now at AnnetteColby.com.