Shifting Life's Challenges From Repeat to Take Charge
Ever feel like no matter what you try, you keep facing the same kind of challenges over and over again?
Things seem totally out of your control. You feel like you finally figure out how to solve a personal life challenge, think you're clear to move on, then get knocked down again.
There are a lot of things we truly can’t control. Gravity, for instance, the seasons or that perky nose that Aunt Hazel gifted you through DNA.
But, there are plenty of things we can control, or at least mitigate if we understand the role they play in our potential for success, or failure.
GETTING IN OUR OWN WAY
Surprisingly, one of the biggest obstacles to get in our way on the path of life is … well, ourselves.
I’m sure you can think up a few circumstances in your life where you might have created a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure to protect yourself from disappointment.
Maybe it was a job interview you didn’t think you were qualified for, a relationship you expected to fail because you thought they were too good for you or that lotto ticket you absolutely knew wasn’t going to win, but you bought the ticket anyway.
Creating self-induced obstacles is a way for us humans to prepare ourselves for disappointment on our own terms.
If we prepare for or expect, rejection, loss, or failure before we even leave the starting gate, then when we fail, we feel we’re still maintaining control of our world.
But, why would we want to create that in our lives? Who wants to plan, on purpose, to fail? What’s the fun in that?
Well, there are a lot of reasons we choose this coping mechanism to manage our expectations.
Many times, efforts to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones into new territory can seem unrealistic. We have a difficult time envisioning ourselves in the winner’s circle, especially if we’ve had a history of loss.
We just can’t seem to get beyond the concept of “dreaming” to grasp that there’s a reality just beyond, a reality our imagination is beckoning us to experience.
Many think dreams are out of our physical reach. That they are meant to be untouchable and unfulfilled.
“I can’t go there!”, we tell ourselves, “I’m not capable of __________(fill in the blank)”.
Usually, the blank is filled with one or more personal attributes or skills, or a failure in the past, that we have developed into a full-fledged, life-long limiting belief.
WHERE IT MIGHT HAVE COME FROM
Someone in our past might have whispered in our ear that we weren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough to earn success.
In reality, that messaging has nothing to do with you or your capabilities. Instead, and unfortunately, it comes from that person's own insecurities or fear. After all, they think, if you succeed, what does it say about their life and inability to even try something new?
In some cases, they may have the best of intentions. The problem stems from the fact that they're coming from a place of fear. They may just not want to see you get hurt or be disappointed.
Their limiting beliefs and fears are being transferred to you, regardless of whether they are reasonable or necessary.
WHO'S KEEPING YOU PLAYING SMALL?
I hear from clients and friends often that they wished they hadn’t allowed others, in their inner circle, to keep them playing small.
Whether it was a spouse, parent, friend, or boss, a person can feel like they are spinning in circles trying to please those they love most. They never, for one minute, think their loved one might be consciously, or unconsciously, limiting their potential for a better and happier life.
So, what are some solutions we can implement to stop those self-sabotaging thoughts or outside influences from reaching our best potential?
TAKING THE STEPS TO CHANGE
1) Identify and neutralize our limiting beliefs
Often our thoughts are so ingrained that we never think to shine a light of truth on them. Ask yourself what thoughts or limiting beliefs keep coming up for you when you start to consider a new opportunity.
Is it coming from an outside source or are you self-sabotaging yourself out of fear? If they are coming from fear, ask yourself how “real” those thoughts are and what facts they are based on.
Odds are, after digging deep, you’ll be surprised to find there’s no fire behind those 10-alarm warning bells going off in your mind.
Identifying the underlying source, and neutralizing it, will allow you to put things into perspective so you can start creating a different dialog, one of success, instead of failure.
2) Create boundaries
I say it often. Boundaries are our friends. They allow us to say to the world, “this is ok and this isn’t”. You’re communicating what’s important for you to stay healthy. But most importantly, boundaries are empowering.
So often, we bend and flex to others' wishes and demands because we want to please them or we feel it’s expected of us. But, that’s living life according to someone else’s rules and that is never healthy, because we all have our own life path to follow, in our own way.
Setting boundaries can be cathartic and healing, especially if they are set with love and communicated to others with compassion and patience.
3) Are your choices in alignment with your values?
Many times, we use self-sabotaging behavior when we’re being asked to, or expected to, do things that are outside our value system.
Maybe it’s a parent that thinks you should be in a certain vocation or marry a certain type of partner, but it doesn’t match your personal goals or values.
It’s not always easy to stay firm with setting boundaries with people that are set in their ways and stubbornly refuse to accept your truth.
But, adjusting your life to match their expectations, when it directly contradicts your value system, is a recipe for terminal unhappiness.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Here are some other benefits that creating boundaries and staying true to your values offer:
· Less anger and resentment because you aren’t trying to live by other people’s standards
· Higher feelings of peace and safety
· You become more proactive in asking for what you need
· You respect and support other people’s boundaries more consistently
· You develop more comfort with addressing and removing unwanted thought patterns
· You learn to communicate more effectively with others
· It gets easier to focus on the positives
Once you consciously start to focus on the sources behind old, negative self-fulfilling prophecies or limiting beliefs, you’ll start to recognize and nurture that power that’s always been within you.
And that, my friend, is the start of a new path. A path of unlimited potential, possibility, and yes, success!
So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!