How to Break out of the Box and Live Life on Your Own Terms

How to Break out of the Box and Live Life on Your Own Terms



Good things come in boxes. Sometimes the color of the box has us salivating in anticipation. Tiffany Blue or Hermes Orange are iconic colors that let expectations run high, as we know a treat awaits. So why do we want to break out of the box?

For the same reason that the Tiffany bracelet and Hermes scarf are enjoyed and utilized once out. Neither is meant to stay there tarnishing or gathering dust without living out their purpose.

We are not meant to be in boxes. They limit us, rendering us less brilliant in all senses—less fully developed, less the person we are meant to be.

In a box we are not only less effective and less impactful, but we get trapped. The confines of the box restrict us to seeing ourselves, the situation, others, and the future in a rigid and narrow way.

Box living keeps us small—our vantage point and way of doing things. It is hard to be creative and impossible to be our full magnificent selves from inside a box. Boxes are holding places, not creative spaces. To become ourselves, we need to always be creating.

How can we get out of the box, then?

1. Practice Self-Awareness and Inner Courage

Before you break out of the box, you must first recognize that you’re in one. This sounds easy, but sometimes we are so caught up in the same old patterns of thinking and doing things that we forget to stop and have a look around—to take our pulse.

If you aren’t in a groove that results from a fluid dance of your purpose and values in daily life, you are in a box.

Here is the tell-tale sign that you are in a box: You wish for different outcomes but keep experiencing the same ones; you feel stuck and you have lost your spark.

You might alter some minor things, but if your relationship and the end result to the thing you are wishing to change or create stays the same, then those walls aren’t going to be coming down anytime soon.

Get clear on what you wish to achieve (take the long term view) and how you wish to achieve it. The what and the how are of equal importance. The long term view will allow you to be less reactive and more thoughtful and innovative. When we imagine the bigger picture, our planning and decision making has space to allow for a host of possibilities.

Possibility is all about curiosity and openness. Both lead to flexibility. None of those are the domain of in-the-box living.

You can get curious by asking:

  • What matters most to me?
  • What do I need and want today and tomorrow?

These are about what you want your legacy to be—what you want to leave behind as your work and/or the way you move through your days and touch others. It’s about honoring the things that make you you.

When you align with your purpose and values and act from them, you will be able to break out of the box. No box can hold you when you are acting in alignment and integrity.

2. Fact Check the Stories You Tell Yourself

We quickly add our opinions about why we can’t, won’t, or why something isn’t working or will fail. Be honest with yourself. Admit what is before you and what kind of help you need.

Be lean and mean about discerning fact from fiction. Editorialize all you want as long as what you add to the facts is going to energize you and not bring you down. That is called dreaming.

Dreaming gets us motivated and brings in new ideas. We excite our positive emotions. Invite those in with open arms. Create plans and goals from those dreams. Essentially, a goal is a dream with a deadline.

To help your story telling be an awesome CEO of your life, make sure the storyteller is your inner-sage and not your inner-judge((Mindful: How to Recognize Your Inner Critic)).

You will know by the positivity vs. the negativity of each. The judge tires you out quickly, and the feeling of possibility melts away. The judge is the CEO of the box you are in.

The sage comes in when you exercise empathy and that ever-important curiosity.

Don’t give yourself a hard time for having been in a box—even if it has been for a very long time—or about what hasn’t worked. The judge will be all too happy to have you indulge in that kind of self-criticism.

To ignite the sage through curiosity and break out of the box, ask:

  • What assumptions have I been making that are false or detrimental?
  • What assumptions am I making in general?
  • What do I need to take ownership of instead of blaming on someone else?
  • What do I know to be true?
  • What is the next right move?

Play is another way to employ your sage as your CEO. There is nothing like play to encourage the sage’s fresh vantage point and stir up the sage’s innate creativity and endless energy.

Play need not be physical. It’s about doing something that delights, that has an element of surprise and lets time fly by. It just needs to not be too tightly scripted or have an attitude of heaviness.

To add some extra box-breaking strength to this whole process, do something you haven’t done in a long time, or try something new. Novelty is like a strong wind that rattles the sides of your box and lets fresh air come in. Plus, that new oxygen will let you breathe bigger, deeper breaths that will inform your dreams and actions even more.

3. Get Comfortable With Experimenting and Failing

Remember that being in a box is all about repeating what doesn’t work! Isn’t that a bigger failure than failures that come as you experiment ways to realize your dreams? Failures are not bad; they are information givers.

To see failure as your ally, engage your sage. That empathetic part of yourself will not beat you up and have you feeling bad about went “wrong.” Instead, the sage will have you find the gift in whatever unfolds and encourage you to design from there.

Final Thoughts

By getting out of any box you currently inhabit, you will start living life on your own terms. You are liberated from the confines of limiting beliefs and actions. You will be more you since you will not be held back from restrictive habits of mind and practices.

What does your sage—that intuitive part of yourself—say about what would be a great first step to get out of the box that has you stuck?

One bit of freedom leads to another. Each shake-up becomes part of the revolution that will help you fully break out of the box. It’s a revolution to bring about your evolution. To be your evolved self is the very definition of living life on your terms!

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