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Don’t Let Your Mind Limit or Define You

Happy, Free Man

“The limit is not in the sky. The limit is the mind.” ~Unknown

I was having a conversation with a friend. She was telling me how maybe I should quit my writing and focus on something that wasn’t so challenging for me; that I should accept my limits and work within those boundaries. Her words made me cringe.

You see, I am dyslexic and I struggled greatly to write this story down. I am probably going to read it twenty times and will still have many mistakes that need editing.

My job is a daily struggle, and sometimes I break down and cry because it takes me double the time than it would take a non-dyslexic person. But here’s the thing, I’m not quitting, no matter how many times I cry, no matter how many times the editor sends my story back, or how bad I have it with dyslexia. I won’t quit.

I’ve seen a man with no legs and no arms swimming in the ocean, Albert Einstein was dyslexic, The Beatles were told their music sucked, and I was told I would probably fail in university.

Am I a story of success? That depends on what you think success is.

In a world limited by people’s opinions, I was fortunate enough to have parents who pushed me beyond what I thought were the limits imposed by my circumstances.

I was born with a heavy form of dyslexia that saw me fail over and over again math and Spanish (my native language). Teachers preached to my parents about how I would struggle greatly if I ever decided to go to university.

I felt like a failure, unable to cope within this non-dyslexic world. My parents, on the other hand, pushed me for greatness, but in my own mind I felt I couldn’t go very far. I let my own fear of failure keep me from going to university after high school finished.

For three years I searched for forms of making a living that didn’t involved math or Spanish. I became a waitress, a maid, a bartender, and a dog walker, until I realized I didn’t want to live my life with jobs that weren’t personally fulfilling and that left me no sense of satisfaction. I wanted to write. But how could I if I have dyslexia?

In spite of the great fear I had for my dyslexic mind, I enrolled myself into university. Ironically I chose a career path focused on writing. Journalism.

I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my own limits. I worked harder than my fellow classmates, and if it took them two hours to do an essay it would take me twelve. But I wasn’t fighting against them; I was fighting against my own self. Pushing and working beyond the pain, frustration, and desperation.

I spent countless sleepless nights trying to get each essay perfect and flawless, re-writing every sentence to make it correct and still I had flaws, mistakes, errors that made me feel like a failure.

It came as a surprise to me (but not to my parents) that I actually managed to graduate top of my class and got a freelance writing job in English! Which is not even my native language.

No, I’m not rich, I haven’t written a bestselling book, and I don’t make much money. But I can tell you this: I love my job, I love writing, I cry when I get sent back stuff, and I get very frustrated, but I keep going beyond my limits only to discover that it is limitless on the other side.

I keep improving with every mistake I make, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find amazing editors that value the creativity in my writing more than my mistakes.

Our bodies may have limits. We can only stand certain temperatures; we can only go a limited amount of time without air. But our minds forge their own limits. Those with limited mindsets will work within their limits and stay within the comfort zones that allow them to feel contentment with a sense of conformity.

But pushing our minds beyond their own limits can give us an indescribable sense of joy by showing us how limitless we truly are. We are what we think we are.

If you think you can’t run a marathon, you’ll never push yourself to start training; you’ll limit your body by your minds perception.

If you think you can’t start a new career in a creative field, you’ll overlook opportunities to strengthen your craft and potentially earn from it.

Doing what you want to do starts with believing it’s possible, no matter how difficult it may be. Achieving what it’s beyond our pre-conceived limits is what strengthens not only our bodies, but also our own minds.

Muhammad Ali didn’t become the greatest boxer of all time by believing it was easy, but by pushing beyond the pain and frustration, by forging a mind that saw him go beyond what he thought were his limitations.

I can whine and quit because I have a learning disability, or I can accept I have a disability and work around it, through it, and over it. For many years I saw my self as a failure for having something I never wished I had, but the moment I took responsibility for myself, my life, and my mind, I found the courage and determination to not let it define me.

Don’t let your mind define you. You are so much greater than what you think you are.

Happy free man image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Caroline D. James

About Caroline D. James

Caroline D. James is the founder and writer of wanderside.com, where she explores a different perspective to ordinary life.

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  • Mike McClement

    Keep at it Caroline! I think you’re writing is excellent. Engaging, dynamic, meaningful. Inspirational. I would never know that you are dyslexic. I’m guessing that unwittingly, the challenge this brings gives you the ability you have. Would you be the same without it? Mike

  • Caroline James

    Thank you Mike, you’re very kind. Actually you’re right, I wouldn’t be the same person with out it, it has helped me to view things in a different perspective. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  • Jared

    Dyslexic? This writing is succinct, beautiful, and wonderfully poetic in its simplicity. You are a fantastic writer and honestly an inspiration. For i suffer from no malady other than the limits i put upon myself. Amazing. Keep it up!
    JT

  • Valentina

    I admire your bravery and determination, Caroline! Thank you so much for sharing your story, you’re quite an inspiration 🙂 And a special shout-out for your parents who have encouraged you to look beyond your supposed limits and to find opportunities where others would find defeat.
    Valentina

  • Caroline James

    Thank you Valentina, I do appreciate enormously what they have done for me. Thank you for your kind words, I feel honored to be considered an inspiration.

  • Caroline James

    Thank you so much Jared. I can´t take all the credit I did have someone edit it for me. but I’m glad you enjoyed my story and thank you for your encouraging words. The limits the we set on our minds is a malady of its own, luckily for us we hold the medicine for it. So keep on going and forget that there are boundaries.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Dearest Caroline

    Your zest for life, your passion for words, and your determination to rise above uncontrollable circumstances gives me pause – a beautiful pause, an inspiring pause, a loving pause.

    Despite being surrounded by love, I live the life of a victim. Your energy and enthusiasm are HUGELY motivating <3

    Brenda Ueland, the author of the seminal writing book – If you Want to Write (I suggest you grab a copy ASAP!) – says that 'true art INSTANTLY INFECTS the reader with its honesty, hope, and humility.'

    THIS article is TRUE ART, my friend #HUGS

    THANK YOU

    OODLES of love
    Kitto

  • Shanker

    Hi Caroline,

    You’re a great writer. Not because you are great in the art and craft of writing, but because your writing teaches us about breaking our own self imposed limits. Thanks.

    ‘Pushing our minds beyond their own limits can give us an indescribable sense of joy by showing us how limitless we truly are. We are what we think we are’ – Great words, Great example, you are!

  • Shauna

    Wow Caroline I was reading this piece and the whole time I just couldn’t get over how brave you are as a person. A lot of the stresses I face everyday come back to that limiting thought that I can’t do something, that I’m not capable, so I am tempted to stay in my limited little box that I’ve made up in my own head. But after reading your article I feel genuinely inspired. It takes strength to push past such a hurdle and proves that you should never accept either what others or your own mind says that you can’t do. Beautiful article 🙂

  • Realising that we are not our minds, and that we are far greater than our minds is so important, and yet it’s easily said than done. I’m finding meditation is helping me in this area. And you’re so brave and inspiring, Caroline!

  • Tom

    Caroline, this blog post was an absolute inspiration. I’m in the midst of uncertainty with no visible light at the end of the tunnel. But this post just affirmed the path that I’m on and I will challenge the limits that have been selfimposed and by others.

    Thanks,
    Tom

  • Caroline James

    I’m so happy to read that you have found my post inspirational and that you are pushing beyond the limits that others have bestowed upon you. You’ll find just how limitless you truly are.

  • Caroline James

    Hi Lucy! you’re completely right, it’s easier said than done and meditation is such a great tool to help us understand it. I’m also an avid practicer of meditation and it does help to continue working in surpassing the limits of my mind.

  • Caroline James

    Hi Shauna! thank you so much for your kind words. I’m not that brave. I’m actually scared most of the time. Scared I wont be good enough but even with fear running through my veins I jump. You are capable, you can do it! Fear is a normal condition of the human mind but it is up to us to conquer it. I think your going the right path, you are more than what you think you are and I’m glad you found inspiration in my story, it makes it all worth it.

  • Caroline James

    Thnak you Shanker. It is the sole purpose of my writing to bring a little hope and inspiration to others, it’s what makes it all worth it.

  • Caroline James

    WOW Thank you so much for your inspiring and motivating words, you’ve touched my soul. It is amazing to read that my words are considered art by someone else than myself. So thank you.

  • Yes!! So true and so important to remember. We make our limits and we can unmake them too.

  • Mohammad Irshad

    really amazing inspirational article.

  • Mohammad Irshad

    Caroline your lines of this article gave me some courage,” But I wasn’t fighting against them; I was fighting against my own self. Pushing and working beyond the pain, frustration, and desperation.”actually I am feeling totally hopeless.I want to do something but i couldn’t do that because of some hidden fear in me. i don’t know what is pushing me back.If you can say something it will be very helpful to me..

  • Caroline James

    Hi. I’m sorry for the late reply I just saw this.
    Fear is inevitable, it’s part of the human condition. It is a necessary mechanism of defense, unfortunately we’ve over used it and it can sometimes crippled our decisions and our future. What I can tell you is, what do you have to lose? what are you afraid of? Are you being held back our fear? or out of comfort? Or fear to lose the comfort? Getting out of comfort zone can sometimes create one of the deepest fears in our lives, because it is setting out to unknown territory. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing what the outcome will be.
    Don’t make any decisions while being in a stressed mindset. Relax, breath, meditate and look inside yourself what it is that is holding you back. There must be something inside of you that you haven’t wanted to face and that is keeping you on a leash. Is it fear of failure? is it fear of uncertainty? I know what you mean when you say you’re feeling totally hopeless, I find myself in the same position atm so I know the dreadful feeling of losing hope for a better future or for a better present. What keeps me going is that I know that bad times don’t last forever. Absolutely everything in life in temporary the good times and the bad times and everything in between. If you want to private message me you can write me at thewanderside@gmail.com.
    I’m wishing you all the best and that hope will soon shine in your life.