Look at these pancakes. Would you believe they were all made consecutively in the same pan, by the same person? Of course not! They are totally inconsistent.
I’m the cook of those pancakes, and I’m not terribly proud of them. At age 42, I have not mastered the art of a perfectly cooked pancake, and that definitely seems like something I SHOULD know how to do.
But I also know better than to should myself about anything.
Instead, I’d like to use these pancakes to talk to you about limiting beliefs. Because not only is “I should know how to make pancakes by now” a nasty should statement, it’s also a limiting belief. I genuinely believe that I DON’T know how to perfectly cook pancakes.
I’ve been making pancakes for years now, but because I believe I can’t properly cook them, I’ve been serving raw and burned pancakes for years. It’s not for lack of knowledge. I know to wait until the bubbles at the edges have popped and solidified. I know it’s only a couple of minutes on the first side and a minute on the second. My stumbling block is the temperature of the pan.
Here’s the interesting thing about limiting beliefs. They become self-fulfilling prophecies. Because I know that my success rate with pancakes is low, I’m not motivated to try for perfection. I throw the pan on the burner, wait a few seconds, and get started. I don’t test the pan to see if it’s hot enough. If it’s not hot enough, I turn up the temperature instead of waiting, which generally results in a burned pancake. Then I turn the temperature down, get one good pancake, and then another raw one.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Limiting beliefs often originate as protective mechanisms. We fail, or get hurt, and then we decide to avoid that activity forever. So my daughter declares that she can’t use the monkey bars. I say I’m never going to find an agent for my book. My husband gets a cough and prepares himself to cough for three months straight. We learn to expect the worst or stop trying.
But we don’t need to protect ourselves from life. Why not? Well, that’s another entire blog post. Suffice it to say that when we protect ourselves, we live smaller lives, and we still end up getting hurt and disappointed. I still choose to make pancakes at the end of the day. So my limiting belief isn’t protective, it’s just destructive!
Because life has a sense of humor, this morning I was given the task of making pancakes at my volunteer gig. Every Monday I’m at Love Wins Community Engagement Center, and on Mondays, we have pancakes. Normally I eat the pancakes. But today the regular pancake chef was gone, and they asked me to do it! So with the help of a guest, I gamely turned on the griddle, mixed the batter, and set about making pancakes.
The first thing I thought about was this blog post, of course. I started it last week, and now here I am, testing my limiting belief. The second thing I noticed was that using a griddle made making pancakes super easy. I turned out dozens of perfectly cooked pancakes.
And that’s the thing about limiting beliefs – they usually aren’t true. When I was given the right tools and the right motivation, I was able to make delicious pancakes.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about how to identify and conquer our limiting beliefs!