“Not many people achieve their dreams from around here, fair play to ya.” — my taxi driver today from my home town as I was heading back to the States.
This statement saddened me and also got me thinking.
If that’s the kind of belief you have(a belief I used to hold, so there’s no judgement here) then you’ll attach yourself to it, identify with those beliefs and never allow yourself any opportunity!
If I had stayed attached to the belief that nobody from the small town I grew up in achieves their dreams – which means I can’t possibly either – then of course I’d have taken very little action. I didn’t take action throughout my teens, in fact, for that very reason: my belief system!
Before I had the opportunity to audition for Riverdance, I spent my late teens doing pretty much nothing. I quit everything during a time of life that was supposed to be fun and exciting. I was depressed and agoraphobic for a long period of time. Luckily I had some support.
Of course, those who are given more of a chance from the very beginning and have a healthy, loving upbringing, a supportive family that help to enhance your self esteem and help to open doors of opportunity for you are lucky. But not having those things doesn’t mean that that’s it, that you don’t matter, you’re not worthy, that you must settle or give up!
Anything to do with the mind is complex and it’s never a case of ‘just do this and just do that.’ A multitude of factors can play a role in a person achieving goals and dreams. It’s also certainly not a case of some people ‘just have it’ and are given opportunities, and some people don’t and aren’t. The truth is that we are all born with the capability to achieve anything we want (within reason—I’m definitely a few brain cells short of being a brain surgeon or an astronaut), but for the most part we really do have unlimited potential.
Without delving deeply into the nature vs nurture debate, generally we aren’t born with such inhibiting, negative self-beliefs. We are born with confidence. We couldn’t care less if we were seen to fall over as a little child or if we drew something messy, painted over the lines, got the answers wrong, made massive mistakes, looked silly dancing, etc. No matter who we were, where we grew up and with whom, none of that mattered for, until…
Seemingly, a huge cause of our suffering as humans is not allowing ourselves to reach our potential: not having a passion, a greater purpose but instead staying within the confines of limiting beliefs that are simply not true. We can hold onto those beliefs for dear life. Such mentality ends up becoming the habitual norm and can be very hard to relinquish.
If you’re petrified of what you might consider to be seen to “fail” then it can be debilitating and you’ll stay within your comfort zone, although the paradox is that it’s not actually very comfortable at all in that zone, you’re still suffering!
Understandably, change can be super uncomfortable. Our nervous systems can be hardwired to keep us feeling safe and comfortable – however, change is inevitable. One of the most helpful things I’m learning through my study of ancient texts is to be more comfortable with the inevitable: Change!
A couple of questions I’ve found to be helpful to ask in this life at any stage, but especially when feeling stuck, lost and/or unsatisfied are: “What do I really want?” Behind the noise, the crappy, outdated, unhelpful beliefs you’ve picked up, the lies that your mind comes to believe, what is it that you really want and need? Not, “What is everybody else doing?, What ‘should’ I be doing? What would others like for and expect of me?”
But, what do I want? “What will I have to let go of for this to happen?” “What is the next action/step that I can take?” Even just a teeny tiny little step or habit change can be built upon.
There’s truth in the cliché, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
I’ve found it helpful to drop into the body first as you try to dig deeper, to help to still the mind a little – although not an easy task for the over thinker – it can take some practice to quieten down a negative mind. Try taking a few deep breaths & just move your body. Aim to let go of judgements (the mind [ego] likes to judge) and get a little more curious!
At least give it a go! Give life a go!
You might just make mistakes, in-fact, you almost certainly will. You could also completely fail and head right back to square one, but isn’t doing nothing, taking no action at all also failing?
As Adam Grant reminded us in a podcast episode with Steven Bartlett – “If you look at regret, psychologists find that our biggest regrets in the long run are not our failures, they are our failures to try. It’s the actions not taken that we wish we could re do the most.”
I honestly believe that this world rewards the resilient folk in the end. The ones who persevere despite a tough upbringing, a lack of family care and support, mental disruptions, trauma of any kind, etc.
Imagine how boring the book or movie would be if it went something like: Child born, happy, loving family, was smart, high self-esteem, went to college, got the job and partner of their dreams, two children, lived in a big house by the sea, no challenges or adversity whatsoever… BORING!
For most, it just doesn’t work like that. One is reminded of the book “The Hero’s Journey.” A highly inspiring and recommended read.
Deeper and further motivation for finding and/or pursuing your passion is to master and own it to the best of your ability, so that you may then share your gifts with the world, to be of service and perhaps, eventually, pass along your experience, expertise, knowledge & wisdom to the subsequent generations. What greater fulfillment and purpose than the passing down of your passion to others, to ensure the existence of your thing?
I don’t believe I’ve yet reached my fullest potential and, maybe, I never will, but I will certainly persist in that endeavor. I still come face-to-face with old beliefs quite often—that feeling of not enoughness is exhausting.
I also have become aware of what triggers these thoughts and beliefs to arise, which allows me to more easily work through them. Being compassionate towards myself has been a huge part of my healing and growth.
This life can seem like a battle for sure, but so far we’ve won every battle!
I’ll leave you with this: One of the great things about being human is that we have the power to make choices.
Choose to let go of limiting beliefs.
Choose to regulate that nervous system—get unstuck from old patterns.
Choose to surround yourself with helpful, kind people.
Choose to set boundaries with those who aren’t those things!
Choose to ditch comparisons.
Choose to stay in your own lane.
Choose whatever YOU want.
– Go easy on yourselves.