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  • Writer's pictureBrienne Jennings

Learning to Push Your Limits

At some point in my childhood, I made the executive decision that I didn’t know anything and no one wanted to hear from me. I shrank into myself and it turned into social anxiety that followed me through college. I was quiet, scared to share my opinions and thoughts, and missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it.

This past month, I stood in front of a crowd of 90 people with my partner and talked for an hour about the importance of mental health in the workplace. I cracked jokes, made eye contact, walked around and engaged the audience, and answered follow-up questions. At the end,

No doubt

a very kind person told me I was, “public speaking goals.”

First of all, I can’t begin to tell you how much that comment meant to me (so thank you :) ). Second, how did I go from the kid who wouldn’t raise her hand in class to the woman clicking about in heels, challenging folks to rethink wellness and mental health?

I pushed my limits.

Most of the limits I currently face I created myself. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some limits are absolutely out of our control but there are a LOT of them that are fueled by our own fears. My experience with social anxiety was born out of fear that others were judging me, not feeling important, and a whole lot of imposter syndrome. Once the fear took hold of me, I did everything I could to avoid triggering it. That meant not voicing opinions, no talking in groups, fighting my extroverted tendencies, and becoming quietly resentful of everyone around me who had no problem making themselves heard.

In my early 20’s, I ran into tons of situations where my silence didn’t serve me. I had to beg for help during my masters, ask for recommendations, go for interviews, and oversee my own finances. I realized that I needed to start pushing some of my limits if I was ever going to be free of my fears. Pushing your limits helps you grow into the best version of yourself. When we begin to push limits, achieving our goals is more attainable and we can feel empowered.

How do we begin pushing our limits?

  • Identify the limits: You might be able to do this by yourself but it can help to get counsel from a therapist, help from a coach, or a trusted friend. Figure out what your barriers are and if you are contributing to them. This takes a lot of honesty!

  • Take small steps: Map out some small steps you can take to challenge these limits. I started by raising my hand and saying one thing per class. As I got better, I challenged myself by taking a job where I provided group therapy.

  • Get good with mistakes: Pushing your limits always comes with growing pains. You will absolutely make mistakes…and that’s ok. Start getting comfortable with saying, “I don’t know,” and, “Oops! Let me try that again.” Being able to make mistakes and be accepting of those mistakes helps you grow.

  • Seek others who push personal limits: Surround yourself with folks who aren’t satisfied with settling. These are the movers and the shakers; the folks who are accepting of themselves but also see their potential for growth. The great thing about these people is that they usually see the potential in you and tend to be encouraging.

  • Stay in your lane: Although I want you to surround yourself with people who are interested in growing, I also want you to mind your business. Grow at your own pace. Don’t try to match other folks’ speed with pushing your limits. The only person you’re aiming to do better than is yourself.

  • Accept your flowers: Often, we pay no attention to the ways in which we have grown. When pushing your limits, folks will begin to notice and comment on it. The good ones will even compliment you and cheer you on! Accept your flowers. Don’t push praise away because you haven’t reached your ultimate form. Stay humble, but soak in that praise related to your growth. And give yourself some compliments, too! You don’t have to wait on other people to notice your change.

For February, let’s push some limits. Let’s find new ways to challenge ourselves and show up as the versions of ourselves we envision.

Thrive well

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