Limiting beliefs others taught me at first and I proved wrong at lastMarkus Raab
Recently, I thought of all the languages I studied in life and came across in my travels. It made me think of the first contact with a foreign language in school. My memories to language learning are not the best. Now, I realized that this is partly because of limiting beliefs others put on me at first. Speaking another language or even several languages was one of the many things that I believed I am not able to do. There was no encouragement and belief that I will be able to speak other languages. It was the other way round. Let’s have a look at the story, how it impacted me, and how I changed it in the end.
I do not remember how I felt when I came in contact with my first foreign language. I was probably 9 or 10 years old when I found my first English lesson at my school timetable. Perhaps dealing with a new language was difficult for me. Perhaps it was as difficult as for any other student back then. Somehow though, I felt, it was not that important to learn English. It just was something that was on the schedule. Nobody could change it. What I remember though is what I got told. I remember the teacher told me my dad – who went to the same school and had the same teacher – was not that talented in languages either. My family spoke the language of music – forte! piano! accelerando! – but was not that much into languages of the world. Later in life, I realized what I received from the teacher’s message: “You are good at music. You are bad at languages”. And I believed it.
In my four years of secondary school studying English definitely became more important. One time we even welcomed a guest from Scotland in our class. I did not understand a word. I have to admit, that even now it would perhaps be a challenge to grasp everything from a strong Scottish accent. Overall, I did okay. I was not a genius in the English language at all. I could hardly speak out a full sentence in English. Nobody could. Writing and grammar were anyway more important than talking.
After secondary school, I enrolled in a technical high school in a different town. That was the time when I first learned about the bad reputation of the secondary school I just had finished. The school had a good reputation in mathematics and physics, but it seemed everyone knew of the bad reputation when it comes to languages. Interestingly, I did not know. Again I got told: it is how it is, it’s supposed to be this way where you come from, you cannot change it.
It seemed everyone knew of the bad reputation of my school when it comes to languages. Interestingly, I did not know.
You can imagine learning English was not among my favorite subjects. I am not even mentioning the study of further languages.
So many people – young and old – get told what they can do and what they cannot do. As a child, parents, relatives, and teachers tell you. As a grown-up, your previous experience, your environment, and the surrounding society tell you. Most of the time what you hear and perceive is actually not true. It is what they believe. People want you to be more or less the same as they are. They look at their own life, perceive it as a good and safe way to live, therefore often assume it is the only possible way. It is not their fault, it is just how we all are wired. Thus, so often it is others’ limiting beliefs they put on us, and our limiting beliefs we put on someone else.
I like the quote by Mark Twain a lot – “They did not know it was impossible so they did it” – and I think way too many times I knew (or got told) something was impossible. Then again, I am extremely grateful that I was sometimes able to ignore all of this and just look beyond those limiting beliefs.
As so often in life, love and passion are the answer. Love and passion make us courageous. Love and passion help to ignore the naysayers (thank you Arnold Schwarzenegger for your motivational speech). They enable us to seek our own path and be brave enough to walk it. Love and passion help to choose the right people who support you (and you can support). Love and passion give you the energy to work hard and be patient.
If I had only listened to what I got told I would have missed many adventures, experiences and learnings.
- I would have never dropped high school to walk on a path that suited me more at that time
- I would have never gone to evening school to finish the university entrance exam
- I would have never done the exchange study year in Austin, Texas
- I would have never started dating the girl from Russia who I happily call my wife now
- I would have never booked that one-way ticket to Southeast Asia and make a dream come true
- I would have never called Bali my home for almost a year
- I would have never quit a job without having the next job and income source waiting around the corner
- I would have never allowed myself to be different and think outside the box
There are so many things that would not have happened. There are so many other things that did not happen. It is interesting what changes in your thinking and what you are able to realize when you finally take time off and surround yourself with other people. Our brain got wired with limiting beliefs, fortunately, we are able to rewire those beliefs. For me, all of this started when suddenly others told me and showed me what is possible. And I believe it.