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A frequent pain point of learning for me comes from trying to do more than I am designed to do leading to feelings of being overwhelmed at the least and much more at the worst. For me, this consistently happens in the following way and might happen for you in a similar way:
Were you ever sure you would arrive on time to an appointment only to somehow end up running late to it?
Have you then sworn you would definitely be on time at the next opportunity only to repeat being late again?
Can you remember a time where you faced very painful consequences for pushing your limits, such as drinking or eating too much, and said you would never do it again only to end up doing the same thing later and wondering how it happened again?
When I try to push my limits too much, I am causing more pain in my life by not respecting the limitations of this form. While testing boundaries occasionally is a good idea to verify they are there, repeatedly running headfirst into the same problem hoping for a different result is insane. Showing up late at the same meeting day after day and saying each day that the next will be different is crazy. So why does it happen to start with?
The only reason I can see is that I do not know any other way to live. Having a choice implies seeing two or more options and choosing one. If I keep doing the same thing almost seemingly against my will, I must not know or be able to choose another way.
What does the other way to live look like? It looks like love and self respect founded in an understanding and acceptance of my current limitations. This is easy in some areas of my life such as driving. I understand there are consequences for choosing to drive over the speed limit and now, after facing those consequences many times, I choose to drive the speed limit.
Why did it take being stopped by police so many times and being afraid thousands of times of getting a ticket before I simply accepted the speed limit and gave up the fight against the speed limit? I can only guess that it is because a part of me likes to pretend I am free of limitations and special because of my unique ability to exceed the limits. Being special often equals feeling different and feeling like something is wrong with me.
A simple system of accepting my limits in life helps me to feel like I am not special and that there is nothing wrong with me. Now when I drive by the speed limit, I have no fear of being stopped because now I am doing my best to respect the limitations placed on my driving.
In other areas of life, limitations are not so obvious especially when it is up to me to self-regulate. Going to bed at the right time, stopping work after I have done enough, and arriving on time to meetings have been very difficult for me on many days because it is up to me to define the speed limit for my life based on what I see.
Stress related illnesses ranging from physical symptoms to the things we do to relieve stress that are unhealthy combine to be one of the top causes of death at all ages. Maybe it is because many of us were never trained on how to lovingly observe our own limitations and set limits comfortably within what we are able to do?
How is it possible in my life one of the most difficult things for me to do is stop work a few minutes early? Where did I get the idea that I need to squeeze every bit of productivity out of this body until it absolutely cannot take it anymore? I am not sure where I did end up thinking this way and I am grateful today I am open to learning a new way of living.
Today I work to stay conscious of my choice to respect my limits or to attempt to push through them. At 5 pm today I had planned to do 2 more hours of work after already recording a chapter of a book, sending one email before this one and another here now, learning how to use a new website, uploading a podcast episode, editing six chapters of my new book “World History Reloaded,” creating a new page on my website, answering most of my emails, and working with my friend Albert to assist a client.
For context, I have my own business online employing a few people part time. The last day I took completely off without logging on to do anything was June 7, 2016. I know this because it is the day I moved. That is nearly 4 months without one complete day off because I try to work a little bit every day instead of working a lot every day. While this is an incredibly effective system to get more done in less time, even the slightest pushing of my limitations quickly creates a lot of problems. Learn more about this in my free 4 hour workday course at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCr__DWDQ-I.
Being accountable to you and each other person in my life motivates me to do better in loving and respecting life especially in my personal limits. Writing this email here to you have given me the courage to choose a different way to live even if it is just for today. I choose now to give up doing even more work on a day where I have already done enough by respecting and loving the limitations I face in this body.
My hope is that in honestly sharing the challenges in my life, you are able to identify similar ones in your life and then be open to making improvements. I appreciate you reading this and hope it is useful for you!