What’s holding you back?
In my 15 plus years of coaching, I’ve discovered that we are all more similar than we might think. We seek the same things, happiness and fulfilment as we reach for our potential and the fullest truest expression of ourselves. We also tend to have the same blocks, those habits of thought that inhibit us.
I’ve yet to encounter someone who doesn’t run default negative thoughts that are off-shoots of lack of worthiness (imposter syndrome) and a fear that others will judge them negatively.
The term ‘automatic negative thoughts’ was first coined in the 1960s by psychologist Aaron Beck. Unlike a real-life ant infestation, we cannot eradicate them, as these thoughts are part of our defence mechanism. We simply have to acknowledge them for what they are and learn to make our peace with them.
The first step is to aim to get to the witness position where you can observe yourself running the negative thought pattern (procrastination, excessive worry, talking yourself down….) When we witness our thoughts we are now in the space where we have the possibility to choose an alternative approach. With that feeling of choice comes an enhanced sense of control.
As a coach, I hold up a mirror to clients and help them assess their lives or careers from an objective position. Sometimes I will say to a client ‘do you wish to continue to argue for your limitations, or do you wish to move forward, find a solution or a new approach?’ (It’s a loaded question!)
We can all drift into the habit of talking about our problems, or how hard our lives are. It’s easy to dwell on the unfair circumstances, our bad luck, other people’s irrationality, in short, how we’ve ended up holding the short end of the stick.
Whilst it’s good to offload, long-term, this focus is unhelpful. Before we know it we will find ourselves a fully paid-up member of the victim club carrying its calling cards of a sense of entitlement and resentment of others.
Just as in nature where the antidote to a poisonous plant is found in close proximity, the learning or counterbalance to life’s challenges is found close by too. We always have the freedom to choose the meaning we place on life’s events.
Most of the time we will compare what we see others doing (or posting on social media) and compare it with how we are feeling on the inside. Not only is this erroneous juxtaposition the birth of the modern phenomena of FOMO (fear of missing out,) it diminishes our self-confidence.
The only comparison that is ever valid is between where you are now and your sense of your potential.
An excessive external focus and the constant competition with others leads us to spend our lives pursuing goals that aren’t really our own, but rather what society deemed important.
You can spend your whole life trying to keep up with the Jones, but it will be a very externally focused, shallow life. What’s the alternative? Going to the deep end of the pool, diving in and pondering your own definition of success based on your own values and desires.
When we see the world through the lens of lack, every interaction is a zero-sum game. For me to win, you must lose.
There are finite resources. The world is like a pie and if I want a bigger slice someone has to make do with a smaller one. It is a narrow world view driven by fear.
An abundance mentality means there is an infinite number of pies. If I’m healthy is there less health for someone else? If I stockpile books are there fewer books for others? No, because more will be produced.
Many years ago, in an effort to stimulate proactivity on his a team, a project manager, who was one of my early mentors, had the refrain ‘it is better to apologise than to seek permission.’
Unconsciously we tend to wait for permission, a power outside ourselves to tell us we’re ok, or that it is ok to take a course of action. It’s how we were raised.
First, we sought permission from our parents, then teachers, then our employers, but ultimately no one will ever give you permission to live your dreams.
As adults we learn to take ownership of our behaviours, we might even realise that we are responsible for our attitudes, sometimes we forget that we are also the owners of our dreams. When it comes to life you are never prequalified.
There is no degree to ‘live your dreams.’ You qualify yourself by showing up, harnessing your passion and putting in the work. The permission you seek is a courageous decision you make.
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