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Busting Limitations
by Serge Kahili King

[The following was presented as a public talk during the Big Island lava threat of 2014]

There are times in our lives when we run up against what we decide are limitations. Did you get what I said? What we DECIDE are limitations.

"Limitation" is just a word, but it carries the idea of something fixed, immovable, beyond which you cannot go. Of course, when you are walking along and a big tree falls across the path and there's no way around it, that seems like a limitation. When you don't have enough money in your bank account and you can't get a loan that seems like a limitation. When you grow so old and so weak that you can't run any more that seems like a limitation.

The problem with calling them limitations, though, is that it makes you think you are stuck and can't do anything about it. When I was growing up it was popular to tell young people that in order to succeed you must know your limitations. That didn't feel right to me then, and it certainly doesn't feel right to me now. All it did was to channel one's thinking into what couldn't be done instead of what could be done.

Sometimes things happen that we aren't prepared for, that disrupt our plans, that prevent us from doing what we want to do, when we want to do it, or how we want to do it. If we think of such things as limitations we tend to stop thinking clearly. In situations like that many people tend to fall into states of continual frustration, anger, helplessness, depression or even despair. And it's all because they are thinking in terms of limitations.

So how else can we think about them? I suggest that every time the idea of limitation comes up when something happens you stop and call it something else. One practical possibility is to call it "a condition that requires change." That might mean a change in thinking, a change in feeling, a change in plans, a change in behavior, a change in what you do, a change in how or where you live, a change in SOMETHING that you may or may not like to do.

Naturally, the more you resist the fact that change is required the more stressed out you'll become and the less effective you'll be at making any changes at all, but the more you accept the fact that a change of some kind is required, the less stressed you will be even if you don't like to change.

Recently on Big Island we had a lot of damage from a hurricane and right now we are dealing with a lava flow that is approaching a subdivision. After the hurricane thousands of people had to change their lives. For weeks there was no electricity, no phone service, and no intenet. Many people had to live in shelters for a while and had to be supplied with food, water, and ice. Lots of roads were closed, schools were closed and stores were closed.

Some people looked at all these things as unacceptable limitations and got very angry at the government for letting them happen, for not fixing them faster, and even for allowing the hurricane to hit the island. Others immediately adapted their lives to the situation and helped each other through it. No one was happy about it, but the ones who saw it as a condifion requiring changes fared better and recovered faster.

Now lava is flowing in the direction of people's homes, but there is no immediate threat. It may or may not continue, it may or may not stop, it may or may not change direction. At this point not even the experts know what will happen. But some people are preparing for change if it is needed, knowing that they chose to live on an active volcano, while others are already angry at the limitations to their lives that the lava may cause, and are full of anger at the government for letting it happen.

The lives of everyone on earth are full of things that can be called limitations, or conditions requiring change. Take a look at your own life and decide whether you want to look for obstacles or opportunities. Nothing is necessarily easy, but a good attitude helps you through the hard times. Here is a phrase that you may find helpful: "Everything's Working Out Perfectly (but maybe differently)." Sometimes this can be used as a kind of affirmation. When all the doors you can see look closed, then, you have to believe that there are some that you can't see right now that are open. One way to find them is to take a deep breath and EWOP it.

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