Which Lines Should You Cross?

Which Lines Should You Cross?

By Tom Hoobyar

Article Word Count 1000, average reading time 4 minutes.

Last week we talked about limits — the limits that each of us sets for ourselves on what we can want, and what we can do. I said we’d talk more about how to manage these limits inside ourselves.

But first I want to tell you what the mechanism is that maintains these limits.

After all, if you want to open the gate, you need to know how to unlock it, don’t you? I don’t mean you’d actually go through the gate and explore beyond, but it might be nice to be able to, wouldn’t it?

Okay, the gate I’m talking about is something called your self-image.

Self-image is an interesting thing. I don’t mean the impression that you get when you look in a mirror, although that’s part of it.

What I’m talking about is the inside “knowledge” of what’s right and wrong for you, what’s valuable and not so valuable, what kind of person you are. What you deserve.

Most importantly, your self-image is where your mind keeps the keys — the keys to your happiness.

See, your self-image is where your “limits” are stored. Yeah, I put the word limits in quotes. Wanna know why? Because your idea of your limits is probably out of date.

It probably doesn’t even really apply to the real you of today — the you that is reading this email.

Your self-image is probably something that came out of your early childhood experiences, and the bruising of your adolescent years, full of shame and embarrassment.

If you’re lucky, it probably also has some patches on it made up of memories of some good things you’ve done and triumphs you experienced. But for most of us the bad outweighs the good.

The truth is, for most people, their self-image is pretty much the result of accidental impressions, mistakes, and inaccurate memories.

And — here’s the scary part — everybody has one! All inherited from childhood, all bunched up like bad- fitting underwear, making them hesitate instead of charging, waiting for a permission that will never come instead of grabbing for their dreams while there’s time to enjoy them.

So many people go through life not ever “going for it”, whatever “it” might have been for them. Their self-image is filled up with “can’t” and “shouldn’t”

and “it’s not the sort of thing I can do” — another way of saying, “I don’t deserve it”.

Interested in changing that?

It’s easier than you think. Just do this one thing. Pick a limit, like I suggested last week. Pick something you’re physically capable of doing now, whether it’s dancing or talking to someone you’d rather not talk to, or making a serious commitment to learn how to drop a few pounds, smoke less, pay your bills on time, whatever.

THIS IS IMPORTANT. It really doesn’t matter at all what you pick — as long as it requires you to do something you aren’t doing now.

It can be a tiny thing! As long as it is a change from what you have done in the past, it will work.

First, I’ll tell you what will happen if you do this. Then, if you’re interested in that, I’ll tell you how to do it.

What will happen is this. When you stretch past one limit, all of your limits change, because your self-image changes! So, when you get yourself to explore a stretch in one direction, your newly expanded self- image believes that you can now stretch in other directions.

It’s really incredible. Anytime you do or act in a way that your old self-image had a limit on, you’ve unlocked the gate. And what happens is that the entire fence is moved — outward! Here’s what it looks like on paper.

Draw a circle on a piece of paper. Everything inside the circle is what you do now, what’s okay for you — the friends you have, the places you go to eat out, the hobbies you have and the words you use and the books you read and the TV you watch.

Everything that is normal for you is what your self-image puts inside this circle. This circle is your “comfort zone”.

Now, just outside this circle, write down something that you haven’t done because something inside you hesitates. It can be bungee jumping or asking for a raise.

It can be joining a bowling league or donating some time to a local charity.

It can be taking up a new hobby, a new sport, or a new friend. It can be studying a language or learning how to cook quiche or juggle. Doesn’t matter at all what it is.

All that matters is that what you list just outside this circle is also “outside your comfort zone”. Just a little bit.

Now do it. Don’t tell me you can’t — if you’re physically able to, just do it, as the commercial says. It doesn’t have to be comfortable at first — but I guarantee you that it will become easier. Look, how many things were you an expert at, the first time you attempted it???

And as to comfort, think of touching your toes. When you start stretching it is NOT very comfortable — but you DO become more flexible, do you not? And when you’re more flexible you can do more things, isn’t that true?

Walking, talking, writing, reading, everything we now do well took practice.

So don’t be discouraged if the new thing feels awkward — or is done with less skill than the other things you do easily. Duh! Of course it starts that way.

But, when you insist on “going out of the gate”, past the fence set by your self-image on what you “can” and “can’t” do, your self-image will expand to reflect the new thing you do.

And your self-image “fence” around your comfort zone will expand all around!


right, as you change your self-image by doing something new, your limits will also change.

It’s pretty cool.

Try it. It’s fun.


Tom Hoobyar

Tom Hoobyar is a Master Practitioner and an Executive Coach. He’s the founder of the NLP Cafe, the longest running free NLP workshop in the US. Go here to find out more and get your invitation:

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