What’s Holding You Back?
For example, as a twentysomething, I’m told I don’t have much life experience, but I’m supposed to be “living my best life,” whatever that means. As a (gulp) Millennial, I’m told that I’m superficial, narcissistic, and ignorant. As a woman, I’m told that I’m slightly less valuable than my male counterpart. I don’t know about you, but that’s a quite a lot stacked against me just for being born!
Identifying these either self-imposed or societally assumed limitations is the first step to freedom. So, what’s holding you back?
Common Set Backs
1. Letting your past dictate your future.
I don’t know about you, but I can definitely identify with the phrase, “childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome.” As a child of a messy divorce, bouncing between parents who lived paycheck to paycheck, with my older brother and his drug abuse as my greatest role model – I learned to set the bar of expectation pretty low, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I also learned at an early age that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; but not it good way. So shut up and don’t expect much became my mantra. As I grew older, however, I was fortunate to have friends who loved me enough to tell me I was wrong. While my past certainly set up some obstacles for my present, it in now way has to dictate my future. I realized that my past only has as much control as I let it. What about you? Does the shadow of your past eclipse the hope of your future?
2. Not Knowing What You Want
This realization had two different effects on me. The first wave was an overwhelming sense of possibility. I can do anything I want. I really can just set a course and stick to a plan, and do whatever I want. So, what do I want to do? It was crippling. I froze. To be honest I’m still figuring it all out. It takes effort to get to know yourself, to find out what things you like for you and not just to fit in or to live up to some standard of what you think everyone else has. What are you passionate about? If you had a whole day to yourself, no one to impress, no deadlines to meet, no obligations whatsoever, what would you do?
After wrestling with what I wanted to do with my life, the second wave of realization was fear. If I go out on a limb and rise above my low expectations for myself I might fail – and I can’t even blame my sordid past for my mistake! It will be all on me! So there I was, with dreams bigger than I had ever dared to hope for, the knowledge that I am responsible for my life from now on, yet I was still unable to move past this new, all encompassing fear of failure.
Here’s how to overcome them:
1. Learn From Past Mistakes
Whether it’s your parents’ failed marriage, your sibling’s drug habit, or your own tendency to play the victim, learn from these experiences. Marriage takes work, so be proactive about your own. There is a fullness of joy just in living that can’t be found at the bottom of a bottle. You are not merely the outcome of circumstances out of your control; you can take charge of your life and your actions starting today.
Figuring out what you want, letting go of the past, and overcoming your fears are no small tasks. Most people work their whole lives and never accomplish these things. Desires change, the past creeps up in unexpected ways, and fears have a lasting effect on how you live your life. So do what you can today, in this moment to work towards healing and living a life of freedom. Choose to believe truths about yourself instead of the lies fed to you by society. Make decisions that align with who you know yourself to be and don’t settle or compromise.
Perhaps the most profound quotes about fear comes from Susan Jeffers, who wrote a book titled, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” What a simple and empowering concept. Fear is ok, as long as it doesn’t hold you back. In fact, a little fear is healthy; it keeps us humble. And you know what I found once I embraced my fear of failure? Sometimes, I fail anyway, but it’s okay. I keep learning, and reaching, and pressing on.
… but that’s just my experience. What have you learned on your journey?