“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” ~Miyamoto Musashi
This post is about a code of life. There isn’t a single code, and everyone must choose their own truth. I’ve been searching for my truth in the face of many books and since I haven’t founnd it anywhere I decided to write it myself.
What is the Limitless Life?
When I was young, my father told me, “Son, all limits exist only in your head.”
These words stuck with me throughout my life, and I saw endless proof of their truthfulness. Things that I considered impossible, too awkward, out of common sense, someone else just did. I felt unbearable feelings around what these people did, but these feelings were unbearable to me, not to them.
As a little boy I was told I was a smart boy, a capable boy, I could do things others couldn’t, I was special, I did only good, I was exemplary. And I believed all this. I took this in as my own truth and started living it.
I believe that the people who taught me these notions were trying to boost my confidence and my abilities and give me a good head start in life. But, later in my life, these boosters turned out to be boundaries, or limits.
If I’m smart, I thought, I can’t do things that make me look not smart; If I’m capable, I can’t do things that make me look incapable; if I’m exemplary, I can’t do the wrong thing, I can’t make someone upset, I can’t get angry, I can’t make a mistake. Not really boosters, are they?
I don’t know what the meaning of life is. Most probably, there is no single meaning, and everyone decides what it is for themselves. We tend to search our whole lives, looking for The Answer, but in truth we are the ones that need to coin it. This article will not give you your answer. It will only show you mine, and it might help you find yours.
The answer I reached was that I wanted to live a limitless life, to be free.
But how? The first question I needed to answer was: What are my limits?
When I hear the word “limits,” the first thing that comes to my mind is fear. I am afraid to do many things and to not do other things.
In our current society we are expected to go to school, get a degree, respect everyone, get a job, get married, have kids, listen to the news, vote, know about the world’s history, know science, know many arbitrary facts, have friends and be social, etc.—you name it. Not doing some of the requirements raises fear, and doing something outside of them does the same.
So, we are living in limits both for our actions and inactions. But why? Why are we afraid to cross the boundaries? The answer is punishment and reward.
If we do the wrong things we get punished, we get disapproval, we get rejected and avoided, and if we do the right things, we get awards, praise, attention, approval, and support. In other words, if we play our cards right, we get love, and if we mess up we are deprived of love.
So the answer to the big question of what is limiting us is our desire for love.
We spend our whole lives trying to be rich, be famous, please everyone around us, do something extraordinary, be someone exceptional, create a masterpiece, contribute to the world; we want to matter, all in the name of love.
All we do is seek love. But no matter what we do, we never seem to get enough, we never seem to be enough. We do something good, the world gives us love; we do something bad, the world takes the love back. And no matter what we do, the love the world gives us will always be conditional.
You might say, “My family and friends give me unconditional love.” But do they? You get a marriage but do the wrong thing and you get a divorce. You get best friends but do the wrong thing, and the next thing you know you’re not invited to the last party everyone is talking about. Some bonds are tighter and harder to break, but there is a condition anyway. And if there is a condition, there is a limit.
You might say, “Maybe the limits aren’t a bad thing after all. If they are keeping the families and friends together, if they are making you support society, why not live with them?”
Well, I can give you a better answer, but I’ll start with the simplest one I’ve found for myself: Limits suffocate me.
Every day there are thousands of things I shouldn’t do, or I could mess up. I must be so many things and I have to avoid being so many things that it feels like constantly walking on a rope. And all I get is a round of applause at certain moments, and then the struggle goes on.
Limits might keep us with our families, but they also keep us miserable, keep us from doing the things we would like to do that might upset our families. Limits might make us contribute to society, but because of them we often contribute much less than we could.
Our desire is to live a life full of love, joy, and happiness. But how can this happen when we are struggling each and every day to get a pinch of love by doing all the things that are required and being careful to not do something wrong?
The answer is rather simple actually. We need to get the love from a more reliable source.
If we fulfill the need for love in some other way, then all the limits we have will be gone. And if you have read enough self-help books and listen to modern gurus and leaders, you probably have guessed by now that this love cannot come from outside of yourself. You cannot control your life, you cannot control others, you cannot control reality. What you can control is yourself and your own thoughts.
The question is, is it enough if I love myself? Don’t I need the love of others as well?
Let’s think about what happens when we mess up something and get disapproval. What happens in our minds? We start to agree with the others, we give ourselves disapproval as well. What’s more, we start beating ourselves up more rigorously than anyone else would ever do.
And when we get approval and admiration from others by achieving a big goal, what happens inside is that we give approval to ourselves, we give love to ourselves, and this makes us feel good. As you can see, everything we do is actually to earn our own love and acknowledgement. It was never about the others.
Whatever you do in life, no matter how many people approve of you, you will have twice as many that disapprove. But when you hear the approval of the first group of people, and you give approval to yourself, you no longer care about the countless people that don’t like you. This only confirms that the love every one of us needs is the love we give ourselves.
The code of life I’ve reached to is the following:
Be there for yourself! Love yourself if you get rich, love yourself if you can’t afford to even buy food. Love yourself when you succeed, love yourself when you fail. Support yourself when you try, show compassion when you don’t. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing something or for doing something wrong.
Nothing in this world matters if you are not by your side. Be your best friend, be your own brother or sister, be your own biggest fan. Give yourself unconditional and endless love and be ready to live a limitless life.