My belief is that we are born without limits, physically and mentally. We constrain the self to fit to our perceived world. Body and the mind are extensions of our self, and when those constraints are applied, they manifest in the form of various “signs”, holding us back from being what we are born to be.
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world” – Arthur Schopenhauer
While signs from the body are more tangible, manifesting in the form of an ache, pain, or restriction of movement. Ones from the mind are harder to recognize and harder still to view objectively, in part because we identify more closely with our mind than our body. In reality, both are similar; both are physical and have evolved over millions of years and we have changed how we use them drastically over the past few hundred years. The underlying rules for both are remarkably similar.
For instance, physical and mental natural ability is easily lost if one does not fully utilize it. One of the best physical examples of this phenomenon is the squat. We could all execute a perfect squat as toddlers. The squat was our foundation to learn to move, walk, sit, and stand. Yet according to various studies, a majority of adults fail at the deep squat part of the functional movement screen (more on the Functional Movement Screen in later posts). We lose the squat because our lifestyle puts our body in an unnatural state of sitting for 8 hours a day. I know I have been sitting more and more since the age of 4, when I first joined school.
What squat is to the body, curiosity is to the mind, it fires our desire to explore, learn, and solve problems (check out this pretty cool talk for some more food for though). Curiosity is a passion for learning, without which we settle in the rut of familiar and comfortable. As I have aged, curiosity has gone the way of the squat for me, probably resulting from similar lifestyle decisions.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
As we grow, neural and physical movement patterns form in ways we perceive the world, limiting both mental and physical movement to this perception. We start to perceive the limitations as real and rather than challenging them, we look for ways around them. I know I did. Working around the inability to squat meant compensating by developing tighter quads, back ache, and so on. The mental changes were harder to see, until recently when I realized I had developed a fear of failure. My heart always ruled my head. After making peace with the worst case scenario, risks of chasing after what I loved would not deter me. This drove my basketball dreams from the teens well into my 20’s. But the fear of failure had made the heart subservient to the head and put me in a state of “analysis paralysis”, constantly going back and forth between options. Neither the fear of failure nor aches and pains developed overnight. Both were result of years of compensating and working around small limitations.
Some may say these are normal aspects of growing up, but I simply refuse to believe that. Life is not meant to be lived without exploring, without understanding yourself completely, without pushing the limits of who you are, without passion. It does not do justice to the infinity within, to what you were born to become.
Nothing kills an idea faster than isolation. This blog is my attempt at keeping my idea alive, and in the process sharing my journey with you. I don’t have all the answers, and I am still searching for some of the right questions to ask.
Are there limitations that you have been working around and hitting a brick wall in your journey? Please do share your lessons and feedback by commenting below.
Chorba, R.S., Chorba, D.J., Bouillon, L.E., Overmyer, C.A., Landis, J.A. (2010), Use of a Functional Movement Screening Tool to Determine Injury Risk in Female Collegiate Athletes, North American Journal of Physical Therapy, Jun 5(2), 47-54
Kashdan, Rose, & Fincham (2004), Curiosity and Exploration: Facilitating positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities, Journal of Personality Assessment 82(3), 291-305
Loewenstein, G (1994)., The psychology of curiosity: A review and reinterpretation, Psychological Bulletin, 1994, Vol 116, No. 1. 75-98.