Find Your Edge

Posted on Jul 15, 2008

“I couldn’t possibly eat another bite.”

“I am so exhausted. I cannot take another step.”

“I could never own my own business.”

“I will never be able to knit as well as you can.”

“I have never run a mile in my life. There is no way I could run that far.”

Have you ever made a statement like this? I have made every statement above.

I have two reactions to this type of self-talk. First, you are exactly right. Second, I refuse to believe you.

At the time you make a statement like those above, you are exactly right. If you have decided that you will never be able to run a mile, you won’t. If you have decided you’ll never shed a pound, you won’t. If you’ve decided you could never be an entrepreneur and own your own business, you won’t. Plain and simple. As I say to my boys, “If you say you can’t, you can’t.”

With statements like this, you demonstrate the concept of self-limiting thought, which naturally leads to self-limited behavior. Self-limiting thought is exactly that. You have just set the parameters of your own reality. We place these limits on ourselves based on past personal experience, other people’s perceptions of our potential and, most importantly, on our own perception of our potential.

In examining your perception of your potential or, in other words, the parameters of your reality, you are encountering your “edge.” Your edge is the place where your potential meets your fear. The parameters of our reality are determined by our fear of failure and risk.

In stating, “I will never be able to run a mile,” what you are actually saying is, “I am afraid I will fail at running a mile.” In stating, “I will never own my own business,” what you are actually saying is, “The risk of starting my own business and failing is just too scary.”

Whatever your “I will never fill-in-the-blank” statement is, I refuse to believe you! Before you resign yourself to those parameters of reality you just set, let’s examine a formula for change that provides a framework for pushing your edge in a mindful way.

Friedrich “Fritz” Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, provided this framework:

Awareness + Risk = Growth


Growth, pushing your edge, extending your reality is the result of your awareness of what it is you truly want and the acceptance of the consequences of taking the risk to get it.

I challenge you to examine your self-limiting thoughts in the context of this framework. You may discover that, indeed, the consequences of the risk are too much to bear right now or ever. You may discover, however, that the most dire consequences of the risk or the “worst case scenario” of failing at your attempt in pushing your edge is acceptable. While failing still feels scary, the gain is worth the risk.

Every time you push that edge and succeed, you not only gain the accomplishment of your goal, but also an increased sense of your power and an expanded reality. We have all had experiences like this, but for many of us those experiences have dwindled as we have become adults. Children try and fail all the time and we tell them it is “good for their growth as people.” Well, the same goes for us!

Whether it is running a longer distance, learning to knit, starting a business or whatever it is for you, the fact is, once you take the risk and succeed, it doesn’t seem scary anymore. Those experiences become normalized. We have expanded our reality to include regular five-mile runs or knitting or running a business or having babies or going back to school or whatever it is for you.

One fun and practical strategy for gearing up to push your edge is to reflect on your current reality and how you have evolved to arrive there. I guarantee there are experiences in your life now that even a year ago seemed daunting and unreachable. Gather strength from that knowledge.

Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” And, indeed, it does. What is your response to that reality?