Once upon a time (as common lore tells us) we humans held a belief that the world was flat. This mindset led to fear that if we were to venture too far, we’d simply fall off. The fear then perpetuated avoidance behaviors in an effort to keep us safe. But playing it safe had a downside, as this action inhibited our ability to grow, expand and ultimately test our limits.
I currently see a similar ‘world is flat’ mindset in many who come to my office. It is simply unavoidable, and as humans, we are all prone to experiencing some version of this limiting mindset. No where is this greater than within the endurance athletes that I work with.
There are steadfast, rigid, ‘the world is flat’ beliefs about our own abilities, and importantly our perception of our limits. For example, with the runners I work with, this includes a perception of an inability to cover a certain distance, or run for a certain amount of time, or at a certain pace, or at a certain heart rate. The goals really can be endless, but the belief is all the same. It starts out with a proclamation of, “I can’t do that” in relation to one of these targets. Once you believe you can’t do something, you create fulfilling behaviors to prove to yourself that you in fact cannot be successful. But really what you end up doing is convincing yourself to not try.
Addressing your own ‘world is flat’ belief system begins by recognizing and driving awareness to the belief itself, catching your own “I cant’s” and asking yourself the origin of those thoughts and how they hold you back. You can then experiment incrementally by testing those limits bit by bit, piece by piece, by leaning into the fear and going just a little bit further, a little bit longer, a little bit harder (or even a little bit slower if required).
Your comfort zone is simply a belief system concocted to maintain safety (or perceived safety). Growth occurs outside that comfort zone. Understanding your self-imposed limits, and then challenging your own assumptions in both thought and action is required, and achievable for each and every one of us.