Martial Art of Self

Hosted ByAldin Hrvat

In this personal journey, I am re-defining what has mostly become Martial Arts for me in my mind and bringing it back to (my)Self – seeing where and how I can apply the essence of it into everyday moments and things in life.

A part of the Martial Art of Self process is investigating and re-defining the system and principles of martial arts, and bringing it back to (my)Self. I use martial arts to understand and expand myself as a being, as an individual.

Episode 13: Identify & Remove Self-Limitations

In this episode of the Martial Art of Self, we discuss self-limitations. We talk about ways we limit ourselves by imposing certain thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto who we are, and the things we do.

Once we accept a belief as truth inside ourselves, it becomes a conviction in our mind. From that conviction, we build our self-definition. Once we accept a certain way of seeing and experiencing ourselves it becomes so much part of us that it becomes hidden in plain sight. 

Often we no longer immediately see that we are acting in certain ways, or experiencing certain things inside us and our world because we have imposed specific limitations on ourselves, and life.

Here I share a bit of how I became aware of some self-limits, and this general pattern of limiting myself through the thoughts, and beliefs in my mind. I talk about how I assist and support me to challenge self-limits, and expand myself instead.

Music by Fidelis Spies


Episode Transcript

[00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.

[00:12] Hi everyone, this is Aldin, and in this episode, we are talking about self-limits or self-limitations.

[00:21] So, I would like to share how I became aware of a tendency in me of imposing limits on myself and onto what I do.

[00:30] So, particularly I noticed how and where I would limit myself through my thoughts, and my emotions, and my feelings, and my backchats – the inner voices in my head, if you will, about a particular topic, or a particular subject where I would go inside my mind saying ‘I cannot do this, because of…’ and then I would give a reason.

[00:50] And, then I am very — I would be very adamant to come up with countless of reasons to justify the why I cannot, and support my stance of why I cannot do something, instead of supporting me in the figuring out of the HOW could do something instead.

[01:13] So, this particular imposition of limits onto me and what I do would come out a lot in terms of my martial arts training, or really anything that involves moving me in a physical way, or on a physical level. Where I would believe that I cannot train today, or I cannot train tomorrow, or at this particular moment, because I feel tired, and I feel a bit nauseous, or I feel lethargic, or this or that, etc.

[01:46] And, I would give in to those thoughts, and to those emotional-, and feeling experiences, and fully believe them to be true.

[01:56] Instead of questioning them, and for example seeing that if I question them I see that I am nauseous due to various other reasons, like fears and anxieties I have about something else going on in my life, but I mistook that experience of nausea or of tiredness as being valid, in the sense that it — that I thought, or believed that it literally showed me that I am overtraining, and that I shouldn’t, or that I ‘cannot’ train today, even if it’s just one exercise, such as a Taiji standing pose for 20 minutes, or some practice of throwing some light punches or some light kicks with certain principles. For example paying attention to the kinetic chain in mind and in focus while doing these light exercises.

[02:47] So, there is this limit that we impose onto ourselves about what we can do, and cannot do through our thoughts and through our beliefs that we impose onto ourselves, and onto our body through our mind and through strongly believing in them to be true, without first taking them apart completely to question their validity of the information that they contain and try to tell us about ourselves.

[03:11] So, how this played out in my case regarding my martial arts training as an example is where I would very often skip some of my training and do less than I could do, and could have done self-honestly during those days, just because I am, and I was accepting and allowing myself to fully believe the thoughts, and the inner conversations, and the feelings I was feeling inside myself of for example being tired, not feeling up to it, ‘having trained enough’, ‘it’s not a big deal if I skip today’, and so on.

[03:47] And, the more you dig into this point of questioning, and uncovering where and how you limit yourself — for me what happened is that I reached a point where I no longer wanted to continue questioning this point here, and I didn’t want to continue digging deeper into this point here, and just wanted to stop, because I felt like, and thought that I didn’t know what else to write about or uncover about this point.

[04:11] Instead of seeing, and realizing, and understanding that the reason why I did not want to continue working on this point here, is because I had resistance and I had fear to reveal the true reason, the actual reason why I didn’t want to face this point here right now any longer.

[04:27] And, that real reason was that — is that I do not want to give up the reasons, and the justifications I have accepted as valid inside myself that I use against myself to persuade me, to make myself believe, and to buy into the deception, and the self-sabotage that I throw at myself of me telling myself why I should not, and why I cannot do something, or why I cannot start something, or why I cannot do more of something, or why I cannot be more disciplined about it, about my training, about something else in my life.

[05:03] Such as why, for example, I cannot train more than I do now for I see and realize and admit to myself that I have allowed myself to at some point, like months ago, accept a certain thought and a certain experience that felt too challenging for me to face and overcome and push through for me on a daily basis. Which I would experience daily the moment I would have to train and be in the training – and so what happened is that I grabbed the easier way out of it by simply downgrading my training, and doing less, and so reducing the number of challenges, or trying to reduce the number of challenges through that that I experience and have to face and move and push myself through actively during the training.

[05:48] Challenges such as experiences of particular feelings, and particular emotions and thoughts of me thinking and feeling like an experience or an exercise, or a movement is just too hard, or that I am to sore, or that I hate the experience of lactic acid, for example, building up in my arms and my legs, for example, and so on.

[06:16] And, to face and to move through such inner reactions, and experiences is challenging, and to move through them actively and to not give up, and do not give in, but instead continue to work through them in much inner calmness and inner stability as possible, and making sure that it is me that moves and directs me and my actions instead of my mind, instead of my thoughts, instead of my emotions, and instead of my feelings, and so on is very hard to do in a real-time moment.

[06:48] I mean, going against the odds of your own mind, your own thoughts, your own inner voices, and your own inner feelings and emotions, all of them being against you in every moment, and them trying to push you into a submission, into a giving in and a giving up and taking the easy way out, and essentially abandoning, and give up on your principles of self-movement, of being self-directive, and so on – is very hard to do.

[07:18] For me, I had to make peace, and I had to accept that it is often very very challenging and hard to do, but I noticed so many times throughout the 10+ years that I am walking this, is that this way builds so much ‘good’ in my self-character, in my resolve, my — builds my inner-strength, my inner-power, and resilience, and so on.

[07:43] And, I mean look we need to remember and remind ourselves that the process of self-creation, of me creating me fully, actively, and living on my own terms if you will, is a very hard thing to do, it’s a very hard process to do but the benefit is that we are then living on our own terms.

[08:01] We are removing fears, we are removing anxieties, self-judgments, and other self-limiting and self-diminishing thoughts, experiences, inner voices, and behaviors and in their place, we can now build and create new behaviors that support our goals, and ourselves, and our well-being and that of our body.

[08:23] So, back to the story, I mean I realize that I resist and that I fear giving up on the set of excuses, the reasons, and the justifications I have accumulated inside me that I use against me, that I use against myself, and against my training, and being disciplined in my training, and my living.

[08:42] Because to give them up means that I can no longer use them and that I have to stand up inside myself, and own up to myself, and really take from me that option that I am used to, and like taking, and have been taking to not face but to instead run away from the challenging moments and the experience that I face during for example training or something else I do in my life that challenges me on an emotional, mental, thought, physical, feeling level.

[09:18] And, to form now on, basically, essentially it means that I am choiceless in this regard and in this context, and that the only thing that I can do from now is that — that is acceptable from now on, is to face such moments and face my reactions to those moments, and move myself through it with everything that I’ve got. No more giving up, no more giving in, and no more taking the easy way out.

[09:43] And, these challenging moments and these challenging experiences are many more, and harder to deal with when you decide to train on a daily basis I figured out, instead of training only 2,3, or 4 times a week and having breaks or days off in between your training.

[09:59] And, what I’ve discovered is that the reason for it being harder, and more challenging with daily training, that I believe, at least for me, and that applies for me is that with training daily I am challenging so many more self-imposed and self-accepted limitations that I accept into myself, and of myself.

[10:18] So with daily training, I face a lot more of these, and my mind thus brings up a lot more, and more resources, if you will, and more arsenal, if you will, against me, and to stop me from moving myself essentially, to stop me from challenging my limitations, and instead wants me to stay in them, and stay as I am.

[10:43] For, to stay in them means that I am not changing myself. And, change is experienced and met with so much resistance and things used against yourself by your own self, by your own mind to keep you at your current status quo inside yourself, inside your own current experiences, and current relationships to things that you have.

[11:07] And, If you’ve ever slowed yourself in your mind down and looked at this when you tried and wanted to, or are in the process right now of changing something, and especially big points about you and your life, then the mind, and you, will throw so much at you, and so much against you, making it often feel impossible to follow through with the change to be consistent and permanent.

[11:32] I mean, living actively is so much harder than living on automation, but unfortunately, much of our current behavior, our current thoughts, our current experiences, and relationships we have towards things inside us that have become automated in our life are mostly unsupportive and more self-limiting for that matter.

[11:53] And, to break through that automation we have to live actively, and deliberately a new behavior, or a new set of behaviors, and a new way of how we want to be and live life.

[12:05] And, this very active-living is the hard thing, is the challenging thing. For, our automation is always against us, until the moment where our new self-willed version of ourselves we are living to correct the corrupt version of us becomes the new automated thing.

[12:24] But to get there, based on my experience, often superbly is challenging to do, but DOABLE.

[12:36] Thus, with this realization it means that I can no longer use my thoughts, I can no longer use my inner voices, my feeling where I go inside my mind saying to me ‘But, I am so tired’ or ‘But, I am so busy with this and that’, and ‘But I didn’t have any leisure or free time in a while’, and ‘I don’t have time for training or this and that’. I can no longer use these excuses against myself to not train for example, or not do something else that I know will benefit me, or requires to be done in my life and in my reality.

[13:17] And, you will face a lot of resistance walking this path and process of breaking through your limits which you especially imposed on yourself, and you can kinda feel like, and know, and predict that it’s going to be tough, and challenging, and no piece or walk of cake.

[13:36] For, for me, I discovered that I chase only the easy way and the comfortable way that keeps me relatively in my comfort zone because my comfort zone, or being in my comfort zone it doesn’t require much effort and much of this action of ‘having to face me’.

[13:57] Whereas outside my comfort there is A LOT of things to face that challenge me, and through which I have to find ways to move through, and break through.

[14:07] And, that very process of going through, and breaking through your limitations IS challenging, and difficult to do. I mean, let’s not sugar coat it folks. That is just how it is practically.

[14:19] And, it is so hard, and difficult because we have built our whole lives, our minds and ourselves in a way where we are settled with and in comfort on a — we are settled in comfort on a being, mind, and physical level, and seek comfort, and comfort zones only thus.

[14:37] We have kinda developed a negative relationship to self-effort, and to self-movement, and towards expanding ourselves beyond our current state continuously and challenging our limits all the time.

[14:52] So, now all those relationships we have built exist now with the goal and the intention in themselves and the purpose to hold onto that comfort and that comfort zone and is essentially against challenges, and against challenging experiences and against self-effort. It’s all against us inside ourselves. 

[15:13] And, it is essentially trying to be against those things of us being self-moving, of us, being self-directive in our living, against us expanding ourselves, against us challenging our limits and against us pushing ourselves through the ideas, the beliefs that became our conviction and self-definition, and so became our self-acceptance where we state ‘This is me’, ‘This fear is me’, ‘This plateau is me’, ‘I can only do this or so much’, ‘’This excuse of a statement of I don’t have time, or I cannot do this, or I am afraid’, and so on is ‘Me’, and so forth.

[15:57] Now the process to break through all of that which we accepted as our limits and as our definition and conviction of who we are, naturally is difficult and challenging to walk and do, because I mean I and my mind, in the way that I built it, is constantly betting against me. Yes, so, this is challenging, and difficult to move through, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE.

[16:22]  To ground this a little bit into an example, or few examples is where in my case it would have applied where I limit myself with telling myself the story in my mind that I cannot stand in this Taiji or Cham Jang Gong position for 20 minutes straight, or that I cannot train for 2 hours in the gym on a day, or that I cannot face a particular fear of being afraid to be judged by the content I put out, and so on.

[16:50] The fact is that I have so many thoughts, inner voices and memories and experiences and feelings and emotions come up against me where they support and strengthen the story that I tell myself that I cannot do it. It all supports if you noticed, the ‘Cannot’ part, instead of supporting the ‘figuring out the HOW CAN I’ part, instead of just telling me constantly more of ‘This is why you CANNOT’. 

[17:19] And, what I do these moments as an example is to then breathe, calm myself actively using breathing as the medium inside me to get myself calm, calming my body, breathing through my racing thoughts, letting my racing thoughts go, which are telling me to just stop, give in, give up and stop the exercise and training, or to stop looking deeper and to stop working through my fears of for example being judged, or fears of being or looking weak in the eyes of others, and so on. 

[17:56] And then I realize, and this happens in real-time only, that I can indeed push those extra 5 minutes till completion of the standing exercise, or finish up the 2 hours of training today, or finish up the session of writing about my fears and helping me understand them, and craft up some practical methods and ways to apply and live next time that I feel that fear. So that I live this new way of me instead of the old way of just accepting the fear and carrying on with it.

[18:30] Essentially, how I see it for me is that I must break through my limitations, and I must find and eradicate all the ideas and beliefs I have accepted by which I support and give the self-limitations I hold about me and my life and life itself, its structure and it’s legs that it stands on inside me.

[18:51] Because I do not wish to be prisoner of my own limitations which I either imposed on me directly, or indirectly through someone telling me something about me which I accepted automatically as my self-definition and my limitation without first taking that information apart completely and running that information through my own self-awareness, through my own common-sense and my own self-investigation and self-introspection process as to see if any or how much of the information told about me to me or about something is true, is actually true, and how much is simply not true, and taken either out of context or simply is a transference of the other person self-accepted limitations.

[19:39] I would be interested to hear from you, how and where you have found that you are limiting yourself in your life, in your practice, or your profession, or generally in life, in your relationships, and so on. 

[19:50] As well as the methods, or the techniques you have found or implemented that practically worked and continue to work for you to break through accepted limitations.

[20:03] So, I mean, let’s roll up our sleeves, and start questioning and breaking through our self-accepted limitations, by uncovering and enquiring the ideas, the beliefs, and the convictions we hold about ourselves and something in life, and getting rid of them.

[20:24] The process of setting ourselves free from our own shackles of limitations is indeed a challenging one, but the reward is many forms of freedom within and without.

[20:35] Thank you very much. See you in the next episode.

[20:39] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com

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