In my previous post, I spoke of the time that I re-invented myself when I was 34. The most surprising lesson I learned in my journey has been that actually taking the steps to make the change was the easy part. The difficult part was removing the obstacles that were holding me back.
What kind of obstacles hold us back? Obstacles in our mind--those fears and limiting beliefs that keep us "stuck" in our current situations. The reality is that only our thoughts are holding us back at any given time.
The following are some common misperceptions that can stand between us and achieving our dreams:
1. “If I try, I might fail.”
What is failure? We often see it as a big “game over,” a time when our best efforts did not work, and there are no second chance. But this simply does not exist. The only “game over” that there ever can be, only happens in our head.
It is true that if we try, it might not work the first time. In fact, it is very likely that it won’t work perfectly the first time. But that just means that we can learn from the experience and try again. There is no limit to the number of times we can learn and try again.
Eliminate the word “failure” from your vocabulary, and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that unfold for you. The game is never over, unless you decide it is.
2. “I need security.”
So many people are afraid to take that plunge, because they will lose the guaranteed security of their current situation. And yet this “security” is an illusion. No job or situation is guaranteed. In this day and age, people can be given the pink slip in the year before they retire. Nothing in life–jobs, living situations, health–is ever guaranteed.
Moving past the illusion of security is incredibly freeing. It requires that we realize that we can not predict the future, but that whatever happens, we WILL survive. And we will survive a lot longer if we are living in accordance with our dreams, rather than spending 30 years in a situation that causes us to be unhappy.
When we let go of the myth of security, we are able to take risks, realizing that we are already living with risk. Staying in a situation that you think to be secure, is just an attempt to control a future that can not be controlled.
3. “It didn’t work in the past, so it won’t work now.”
We make up all kinds of stories about ourselves, based on our past. Because something didn’t work when we were younger, that means that it won’t work now. We see our past as a fixed reality, when it is really nothing more than our memories with meaning attached. And it is only our minds that attach that meaning.
This meaning that we are giving the past can be redefined, even now. If you think you failed in the past, remember that failure doesn’t exist. So what can be learned from your past? What happened then, that is different now? How can you learn from the experience and use that knowledge to try again?
Just as trying to stay in a secure situation can’t really change the future, the past is no prediction of the future. There is no mystical reason that we are doomed to fail, or are incompetent. Life is learning, and as long as we are willing to see and embrace the lessons from our experiences, failure is absolutely not inevitable.
4. "My Friends/Family Will Disapprove."
While we know that we "shouldn't" worry about what others think, we do. We often fear disapproval from our friends and family, especially if our dreams involve living a lifestyle that deviates from the norm.
We also fear the disapproval that we will face if things don't go as planned. The threat of that "I told you so," is daunting, so many times we just don't try, rather than risk facing it.
But what is disapproval? It is never about us, and it never has any meaning except for the person who is expressing it. Our friends and family are only showing their fears and doubts--or possibly their resentment, because they are not brave enough to follow their dreams. When we view their words in this way, it is easier to be compassionate and not take them personally.
5. "I Have a Family, So I Can Not Take Risks."
So often, we tell ourselves that kids need stability. That when other people are depending on us, we need to put our dreams on the shelf, so that we can provide a more secure, stable life for them.
But what are we teaching our children when we do this? When we take the plunge and work toward achieving our dreams, we are showing them that it is all right for them to do the same. That they should never settle for less than reaching their full potential. And if we stumble and fall, we're showing them that it is possible to get back up and keep trying.
It is important to remember that no situation is 100% secure. If we stay in the 9-to-5, because we think it is more secure, we could still get laid off or face other hardships. We can plan ahead for possible hardships, whether we are working in an office or working toward our dreams. And no matter what our situation may be, we always have options.
Examining and redefining old beliefs and thought patterns takes time and discipline, but it can be a very powerful tool to help you get un-stuck and start moving forward toward achieving your dreams. So if you are stuck in a situation that isn’t working for you, take a good look at your fears and the thoughts behind them.
In my next post, we will examine some first steps that you can take toward realizing your dreams.
For help in overcoming fears, achieving your dreams, and reaching your full potential, consider an individual e-mail, chat or video session.
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