In the words of Mary Oliver, “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” Is your own vision and focus holding you back from manifesting your dream? Have you unintentionally closed yourself off to new opportunities? Below, you’ll learn about the biggest limiting belief to manifesting your dream and how to overcome this restricted mindset.
What’s Your Dream?
Have you ever wanted something so badly, it felt like that thing you wanted was all you could ever think about?
It’s the first thought to capture your brain’s attention when you wake up in the morning and the final image to paint itself across your eyelids before drifting off to sleep. As you go about your day, you might even have a hard time focusing because you’re so preoccupied with your desire to finally possess the thing you want more than anything in the world.
That “thing” can be anything.
A dream career. A relationship. A coveted scholarship or grant. Maybe a prized opportunity to travel abroad. There’s no limits to what your imagination might dream of. In the words of Albert Einstein, “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Dreaming is one of the most beautiful actions a human being can take, and I will always encourage, support, cheer on, and be the biggest advocate for a person’s dreams. I believe in dreaming big. I believe in tearing down walls and saying goodbye to limits. I believe a person should always follow their passion and do the thing that lights up their soul.
And I believe you can make every single one of your dreams become a reality. The second you believe it’s real and trust that it’s coming, it becomes real. You just have to allow it to be.
But What If It Doesn’t?
This is where I circle back to the intro: What about that one thing you want so badly?
I mean, I did say that if you believe and trust, it’ll come, right?
The thing is, we can absolutely achieve anything in the world we dream of. But that doesn’t mean we can (or should) limit ourselves to the visions we create in our minds. There is a lot in this world that I don’t know, and because of that, there are millions of opportunities and possibilities out there that I can’t even imagine.
So when I stubbornly insist that my dream has to look a certain way, or that the path that leads me there has to go in a specific direction, I’m actually imposing limits on myself and closing myself off to other beautiful paths and wonderful experiences.
The Biggest Limiting Belief
The biggest limiting belief that holds us back when manifesting our dream is our belief that the path and the end result has to look a specific way, leaving us unwilling to explore other potential paths and opportunities.
When we narrow our focus on only our specific vision and become attached to that sole outcome, we close ourselves off to incredible possibilities that we can’t even imagine. And because we’re closed off, we reject new opportunities, resources, and people from entering our lives and potentially making our experience even better than we had dreamed of.
I know this scenario all too well because it was my reality for years. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted and how my path was supposed to look, and even though I was taking action, nothing was happening.
In order to manifest my dream into my reality, I had to take a step back to see the bigger picture and open myself up to unbelievable possibilities that I never could’ve imagined for myself when I was still operating under a tunnel-vision mindset.
Below, I’m going to tell you about how this limiting belief held me back from manifesting my dream. I’ll also tell you what happened when I finally released it and opened myself up to unimaginable opportunities.
My Biggest Limiting Belief: That Fiction Writing Was My Only Path
I’ve known since I was seven years old that I was meant to be a writer. I still remember the exact moment when I figured it out. I was walking in the mall with my mom, and we passed a Waldenbooks to our right. I remember peering over and staring longingly. In the years that would follow, I’d develop a massive love of reading and would spend most of my free time reading nonstop, but at that point, I was only just beginning to understand the wonder of books. “Mom,” I said as we passed by. “What do they call the people who write books?”
“Authors,” she replied.
Authors, I repeated silently, testing how the two syllables felt on my tongue.
And that’s when it clicked. I knew what I was going to be when I grew up.
I was going to be an author.
My preferences for what I was going to write changed over the years. Around eleven or twelve, I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter (and even went through a crazy phase of wanting to write horror movies *shudders*). I transitioned from movies to TV shows, then back to fiction novels, then creative nonfiction, then finally settled again on fiction.
Writing a fiction novel made logical sense to me. In fact, it was the only thing that made sense, for the following reasons (Note that these are things I made my truth, regardless of whether or not they were actually true).
What I Told Myself
- Screenwriting would be really hard to break into, and I didn’t want to live in Los Angeles.
- I never had a desire to be a reporter, and I also figured I didn’t have the personality type needed to be aggressive and go after leads.
- Writing creative nonfiction would require me to either (a) be a reporter/investigator type (see above for why I figured that wouldn’t work) or (b) have an interesting enough life to write about myself, which I didn’t.
- Freelance writing for websites had appeal, but I figured I didn’t have any real specialties that I could write about. The thing I knew the most about was writing itself, and could I really write about writing? I have a love of learning and can hold my own in conversations about all kinds of random things: American sports, fantasy football, soil health, macronutrients, Bitcoin, pop culture, Formula 1 racing, gardening, regenerative agriculture, running, game 6 of the 2011 MLB World Series . . . but could I actually write about any of those things? The answer I told myself was always no. (Well, except maybe game 6 of the 2011 World Series, but nobody except a select group in the St. Louis, Missouri area wants to read 500 articles on that very specific topic.)
Fiction writing, I decided, was my only option.
So I spent years writing YA fantasy/adventure/romance novels. And after losing my passion and becoming frustrated because it sometimes felt like I was getting nowhere, I also spent years not writing. I don’t want to sell myself short here. I believe in my talents and skills. I also believe I can be all that I want to be. But with fiction writing, something was always missing. I never quite found my voice. But this was my only choice, I told myself. It was the only path I believed I had available to me. So I honed in on this one thing and closed myself off to other writing opportunities.
The Call to Another Path
When I first heard the call inside my heart to start a blog to help people to believe in themselves, follow their passions, and become the authors of their life stories, I immediately felt unsure.
My brain pointed out a million, “Yeah, but what if . . . ” scenarios for all the things that could go wrong.
And it didn’t get any easier.
Day after day, that call in my heart grew louder and louder, and I still kept resisting. I just didn’t know how I would make it work. I knew it would require me to be more present on social media, which I had never been comfortable with. Questions and concerns arose in my mind. Would I have enough content to talk about? Would anyone want to read what I wrote? Could I really make a living doing this?
The concerns didn’t go away, but finally, I decided to take the leap anyway. I decided that I wasn’t going to be attached to any specific outcome. If the whole blogging thing didn’t work out, then I knew I’d grow from the experience.
And if it did work out . . . well, then I could potentially get everything I had ever dreamed of and more.
In my fiction writing, I always kept what I was doing a secret. I didn’t want people to know what I was doing in case I failed. I figured that when I finally got signed by a big publisher, I’d just call up my family and friends one day and announce the news. Until then, my lips were sealed.
But I approached my blog completely differently.
Before I even launched it, I announced to those closest to me what I was doing. I asserted my confidence in myself. I began an Instagram account and instead of waiting for people to find me, I sought out likeminded individuals who could help and inspire me on my path.
And then, something kind of funny happened along the way:
I was having fun.
I was writing about something I deeply cared about and sharing my story with the world. I was learning. I was connecting. And I was allowing myself to be seen.
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t worried about failure or what people would think of me. I just did what was in my heart. I let go. And I stopped agonizing over whether or not I’d be able to come up with new content and just trusted that the universe would always provide me with the right words.
I’m still open to fiction writing and do plan to revisit the novel I’d been working on before. I’m open to other forms of writing, too. I’m open to anything the universe throws my way, really. If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s to never close myself off to any possibilities. I don’t have to have all the answers, I’ve realized. As long as I remain open, have joy, and trust my inner knowing to guide me along the way, I’ll always be exactly where I need to be.
Are You Remaining Open to Unimaginable Opportunities?
Keep an open mind (and heart) and trust your inner guide.
I know. It doesn’t exactly sound like the most helpful eleven words in the English language. It’s abstract. It’s conceptual. And it’s not always easy to remember when you’re in the midst of uncertainty.
While I gently implore you to always keep those words in your heart as you walk forward on your path, there are some more concrete actions you can take to begin understanding whether you’ve been open or closed to unimaginable possibilities, and whether there are other paths available to you to reach your dream.
How to Release The Biggest Limiting Belief
If possible, I encourage you to get out a notebook, journal, or a piece of paper and write out your thoughts. But it’s okay if you prefer to mentally consider your answers—whatever you’re most comfortable with.
First, think about your dream: What’s the thing you want to manifest into your experience?
Now, consider the steps you’ve taken to reach your dream. Do you have a specific path you imagine for yourself? Have you kept an open mind and open heart to all possibilities, or do you have tunnel vision on one specific path?
Can you relate to any of these scenarios?
You dream of being in a loving, committed relationship, but you insist it has to be the “old-fashioned, meet cute” way and refuse to give online dating a shot.
Or you’re all in when it comes to online dating, but you will only accept dates with a certain type, closing yourself off to other potential suitors. (Side note: Does anyone use that word outside of The Bachelor?)
You have a fitness and/or body related goal, and you think the only way to get there is to run 5 days a week . . . but you hate running!
You want to travel the world, but you believe the only way that’ll ever happen is if you work your corporate 9-5 job for the next several years to save up the money.
You dream of being a photographer (or an actor, writer, musician, coach, podcaster, fitness instructor, chef, bakery owner, cookbook author, or any other dream that’s in your heart), but you don’t know how it’ll pay the bills, so you settle for that office job that you’re not really all that excited about.
Now, I encourage you to allow your inner dreamer to take the reins for a bit. Bring back that vision of that dream that’s in your heart. Don’t try to make it fit into a certain box. Don’t try to make it realistic.
If you could do, have, and achieve anything in the world, what would it be?
Now consider all the possible paths that could get you there. Again, don’t try to be realistic. Don’t impose limits on yourself. Just dream.
For instance, my big dream has always been to make a living through writing and sharing my words with millions. If I had made a list of all the possible ways to reach my dream, it might’ve looked something like this:
- Write a YA fiction novel, sign with a literary agent, and land a publishing deal.
- Write a YA fiction novel and self publish.
- Explore freelance writing opportunities.
- Start my own blog.
- Release chapters of a novel on my website for free.
- Enter short story contests.
- Write a nonfiction book based on my life experiences.
- Apply to graduate schools to study writing.
- Start a travel blog.
And that’s only a very small fraction of all the possibilities out there! As I step back and consider all the opportunities to succeed as a writer, I see how I was limiting myself by only exploring one possible path.
As you write your lists, notice if any of the bullet points resonate with you. Furthermore, notice if any fears arise around any of the items on your list. Listen to the, “Yeah, but what if . . .” scenarios your brain comes up with. Withhold judgment or emotions, and observe your internal reactions objectively. You don’t actually have to do anything about any of your fears or uncertainties in this moment. You don’t need to “fix” anything. The first step is to just notice.
Again, when you’re in an objective and unemotional mental space, you can begin to gently probe some of these uncertainties to understand their source. For instance, by probing my fear over starting a blog, I began to understand my worries: that I didn’t have a platform to stand on and that I wouldn’t be able to produce sustainable quality content.
And then I probed deeper. Were these things actually the truth, or was I just allowing them to become my truth?
When I let go and released the fear, I knew with certainty that my voice and my words were important, and as long as I wanted to continue to write, I would always be able to produce quality content.
It may not be easy to release all of your fears and uncertainties right away, and that’s okay. If you want a committed, loving relationship, but it’s been a long time since you’ve put yourself out there, then online dating can be really scary. If you feel pulled toward weightlifting and strength training but haven’t set foot in a gym in years, then making that first step and asking for help may feel terrifying. And if you want to make a sustainable income doing what you love but currently hold a steady job that pays the bills, then trading comfort for something that offers no concrete guarantees is undoubtedly going to be really, really hard.
So if you take anything away from this, I want you to know that you don’t have to go from 0 to 100 in one day. You don’t have to push yourself to do something that you’re not comfortable with today. You don’t have to overcome all your fears immediately. The important thing is to continue to take small steps forward. Visualize your dreams. Use positive affirmations to affirm your worthiness. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty, allow yourself a moment to pause and breathe. Rather than judging how you feel, just notice. Become conscious of your thought patterns. And then ask yourself, “Does this align with my highest and most authentic self? Do these fears define me?”
My inner guide had been nudging me for months, telling me to take the leap out of my steady full-time job that I truly did like, to going all-in on my writing, even though there were no guarantees of success or that I’d be able to produce a sustainable income. It took me months to finally say yes, and even that’s a relatively short amount of time. So don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Just keep moving forward, one step at a time. Keep yourself open to opportunities you had never imagined—maybe even ones that didn’t come up on your list.
If your dream isn’t manifesting into your reality, I gently and lovingly implore you, don’t give up on it. The dream is yours, and it’s in your heart for a reason. Sometimes, our own minds are the biggest roadblocks to getting what we want. So as you begin to become consciously aware of your own limiting beliefs, gently allow yourself to let go of what no longer serves you. Open yourself up to wild and unimaginable possibilities. Allow yourself the grace of not having all the answers. You’re already innately worthy of everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Now it’s time to allow it in.
Want to Learn More? Check Out These Posts!
- How to Design a Morning Routine for Manifestation
- 3 Simple and Effective Practices to Overcome a Scarcity Mindset
- The 4 Steps to Manifest Anything You Want
- The Key Mindset Shift to Transform Your Life
Hi, I’m Zanna! I’m a blogger/freelance writer living in Boise, Idaho. My mission is to help you break through the barriers holding you back from accessing infinite abundance and to inspire you to gather the courage and confidence to follow your dreams.