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Unexpected News!


“Wow, I didn’t see that coming!”

Yesterday I discovered that I only have one kidney. I always assumed I had two. I’m not bringing this up because of a relentless need to over-share, but because I found this news pretty hard to accept. I felt like I had lost something I realised I’d never even had. I felt uncomfortable in my new body, the one that didn’t have all the standard parts.

But then it got me thinking about the things which influence the path of our life, and what we let hold us back. It made me realise that by finding out when I have, maybe I’ve actually dodged a pretty big bullet.

What does your self-identity say?

If I’d been brought up with this knowledge shaping a part of my identity how would I have been different? Would I have felt more vulnerable, learned to be more cautious? Would I have launched myself off that bungee tower or steeled my nerves to fling myself down a mountain side strapped to a slippery plank of wood? Would I have danced all night on that table then drunk myself under it? Would I have risked dodgy drinking water and accepted the ravages of all those tropical stomach bugs? The great thing is I have done all those things and learnt in the muscle that they haven’t done me any harm. A lot of people don’t get that opportunity.

Learning our limitations

When we are brought up to be constantly aware of our limitations it’s not easy to live outside of those rules. Whether it’s a teacher telling you that you aren’t good at something or a parent well meaningly nudging you in the direction they feel is right given their assessment of your capabilities, those messages form highways through our brains. Future messages hurtle blindly down the same route, the one of least resistance. Each time, these thought impulses forge even deeper grooves in our psyche, teaching us what to believe about ourselves and our world. They serve us by making decisions easier, so can apply a ‘painting by numbers’ approach based on judgements which we started to form at a young age. But these shortcuts in thinking can also make our options much more limited.

Fragile kid

You can never be too careful…..or can you?!


Flexible brains made tougher

If you have been instructed by just about every influential adult in your life what you can realistically expect it’s hard to peer beyond that. Our brains are very pliable in the early years. They can be moulded into just the shape everyone expects to see so your life can follow a predictable path. A job you probably won’t like; hard work with disproportionately little reward or recognition; limited time to pursue what inspires and delights you. But what if how you feel day to day suggests that this isn’t right for you after all?

Of course your brain remains plastic your whole life, even though over time it might feel a bit like the play-doh is toughening up into pretty formidable structures. Can you think of anyone you know who you would guess was ‘programmed’ to believe that to be responsible means giving up your own dreams? Have you learnt by example that in order to make a contribution to others you have to sacrifice yourself? Are you surrounded by people who seem to accept that life only happens when you aren’t at work or asleep, but mostly when you are too tired to enjoy it anyway? Do you spend time with people who have bought into the notion that good things come to those who wait and no one has any business expecting any more than what everyone else is satisfied with? Jeez. I expected two kidneys. Look where that got me.


How good a case are you making for your own limitations?

It’s when you start to explore your own beliefs and recognising where they might not be serving you that things can start to get much more exciting. Ultimately we set our own limitations. We decide what is and isn’t possible, then we make this true for ourselves. This isn’t always easy to accept, but it’s worth taking a look at just the same.

Snowboard black run

A big happy smile after our first black run!


So my question – is anything holding you back right now?


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10 Responses to “Unexpected News!”

  1. Great article Hannah and the bizarre thing is that I have 3 kidneys so maybe there are lots of people going round out there who don’t have the standard 2 kidneys after all.

    You’re right about setting limitiations, and that these are often set in our childhood, with our parents encouraging or discouraging the things we want to do. I do believe that you can change your path and that you can be responsible for making decisions that lead to events, a bit like the film Sliding Doors. Oh I love parallel universe stuff!

    Thanks for the reminder to look at our own limitiations, there are always more lurking than we think. A good weekend task there.

    Kate :)
    Kate Cave, The Karma Life Goddess recently posted..I’m Such a Failure for Not Reaching My Goal

    • Hi Kate
      I know where to come for a spare then! That film does make you think doesn’t it- although if I stopped to ponder too much I would be unable to make any decisions at all! It’s funny, I’ve written a few posts lately and I look back and think ‘I really need to remember that more!!’ So a good reminder for us all. I’ll look forward to reading any revelations you might have!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  2. Its a good article, and I agree on examining the stories we tell ourselves, but reject the notion that life is about chasing dreams.
    You may have been able to miss the fact that you have one kidney, but there are many conditions and illnesses that are more difficult to ignore, while we shouldn’t allow them to set the parameters for our lives, they are indeed limiting. We are after all embodied beings, and many of us have to sit with the knowledge that our bodies will not always take us where our will wants to go.
    Assumptions of returning to health, having a wide range of choices and “living our dreams” is the route to unhappiness. Living with illness and disability means celebrating and being grateful for the small victories and the mere fact of being alive.

    • Margie
    • Reply
    • Hi Margie

      I think I would find it demotivating to not feel like I was aspiring to more and moving towards my goals, but that’s just me. You are right, there are always conditions or situations which fit less into the notion that limits are of your own making. I personally think that for a lot of us we have more control than we think. But perhaps not true for everyone. As you say, there are some much more challenging limitations, but even within that it comforts me to think there is at least some room for choice and manoeuvre. Some days its easier than others I’m sure. Thanks for your thoughts and the reminder to keep celebrating the victories

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  3. This is so interesting. The paragraph where you wondered if you’d have been more cautious if you’d known earlier was an eye-opener. There are so many stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. But they’re all just….stories. We are not static beings. Thanks for the reminder!
    Hannah recently posted..Scavenger Hunt: All Five Senses

    • hey

      I love this about the stories- and some are so complex aren’t they? It can be fun to consciously rewrite those stories sometimes. A lot of it is just habit after all.

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  4. OMG indeed! But this post is so true. I’m sure it was a shock to hear the news but as you so rightly say maybe it’s a blessing that you didn’t know earlier in life.
    Keep on doing all the things that make your heart soar and feels scary but exciting.
    Take care,

    • Thanks Karen, that’s great advice about heart soaring and exciting-scary. It’s great when those moments come along, intentional or otherwise!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  5. Great article, Hannah. As you say, sometimes it’s better not to be aware of our limitations unless they obviously impede us. It’s not quite the same thing, but I remember when I was due to take my driving test, I bought an old crock of a car 3 days beforehand. It wasn’t that I felt super-confident about passing – it was simply that it didn’t occur to me that I might fail! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could apply that thinking to everything we do!
    Julia Barnickle recently posted..It Must Be Love – Unconscious Communication

    • That’s a great story Julia, I love that failure was not an option! Sometimes it feels easier to take that view that others, I wonder if it’s a slight 6th sense or just confidence vs fear. Not always easy to spot the difference!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply

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