We all have that one friend: you’re out for dinner or lunch and you hear story after story about how miserable they are and how awful life is, but no matter how creative and inspiring your advice, they always come back with some excuse about someone else and how if it weren’t for that person, they could do anything they wanted to do. The truth is, we’re all doing what we want to do all of the time. Any “others” in our lives can be our opportunity or our excuse for why we do or don’t do what we choose to do. I consider these opportunities – when I see clearly in another behaviors I dislike – and take my own inventory and look within. Where am I allowing my own resistance to surface in the form of blame?
Over the past few months we’ve been examining all the ways in which we allow resistance to change to hold us back and prevent us from having what we really want in life. Last month we talked about how we allow the beliefs we grow up with to serve as excuses for staying “safe”. The month before that, we discussed how our assumptions create resistance. This month is all about using “them”, others, God, the Universe – anyone other than you—as reasons to resist making changes in life.
When we’re children we have relatively few choices. Most of life is pre-planned for us by the adults in our lives. We don’t get to choose where we go to school – or even whether or not to go to school – or if and where we go to church, if both parents work outside of the home, if our parents are well off or if the family struggles financially. In fact, MOST things in life are outside of our immediate control when we’re children. As we grow in age and development, the world opens up and we find ourselves faced with more and more choices. Making choices and thus taking the responsibility from the consequences of our choices is an important part of growing into an adult.
For many of us, the consequences of choices we’ve made in life (and some choices that were not ours to make at all) vary from being minor inconveniences to major traumas. It’s normal and natural to assess past consequences to predict the possible future consequences of any choice. It’s part of our built-in safety mechanism. However, for many of us we become attached to a certain outcome regardless of the circumstances or the level of our ability at any given moment.
Here’s an example:
Lois took piano lessons as a child. At Lois’s first piano recital, despite practicing her number for weeks, she found herself confronted with stage fright. She began to play, shakily pressing each key. She fumbled and pressed the wrong keys in the wrong order and froze! A few of the other children in the front row started to giggle, and before she knew it, all of the other children were laughing at her. She was humiliated. She walked off of the stage, sobbing, vowing to never be so humiliated again!
Lois never stopped practicing, in fact she may have been considered gifted. She practiced for hours a day and over the years developed the level of skill that few ever develop. However, the memory of her first recital was so strong and she never brought herself to move past it. Fear of being laughed at by her peers crept into many other aspects of Lois’s life. She never really stepped outside of her comfort zone with work or family. She built a “safe” but unsatisfying life devoid of any real sense of purpose. It didn’t matter to Lois that over the years she had developed muscle memory, that her body would almost take over from her mind and play each piece flawlessly. It didn’t matter to her that as an adult she had developed other coping mechanisms not available to her as a child. It didn’t matter that she had, in her life, been through much scarier and more dangerous situations than just making a mistake on the piano. None of these things mattered to Lois. To her, the memory of being laughed off the stage was still very real and very scary.
How many times in life do we allow a single outcome to change our behavior for the rest of our lives? How much do we miss out on? How often do we sell ourselves short or hold ourselves back from greatness because of one thing that happened one time? How might life be different if we looked at life differently? Instead of focusing on what might go wrong, what if we focused on what might (and most likely WILL) go RIGHT?
We’ve used Louise Hay’s bestseller “You Can Heal Your Life” as a study guide and we’ve made lists of areas of our own lives where we’ve allowed our own resistance to prevent us from living the life we truly want to live. This month, I’d like you to go a step further. Take a look at the list below and make your own inventory of where you’re surrendering your power to others. Take just one of the items from your list and break that down by listing all of the ways in which things might go RIGHT for you, if you were to decide to let go of the resistance. I’ve provided an example below.
“We give our power to others and use that excuse as our resistance to changing. We have ideas like:
- God doesn’t approve
- I’m waiting for the stars to say it’s ok
- This isn’t the right environment
- They won’t let me change
- I don’t have the right teacher/book/class/tools
- My doctor doesn’t want me to
- I can’t get time off work
- I don’t want to be under their spell
- It’s all their fault
- They have to change first
- As soon as I get ________, I’ll do it
- You/they won’t understand
- I don’t want to hurt them
- It’s against my upbringing, religion, philosophy.”
Example: “It’s all their fault.” I’ve always dreamed of being a photographer but instead I got married young and had children. I sacrificed so much to be a mom, and now I’m too old to do anything. My family needs me so I can’t take any time for myself to practice and hone my skills. What could go right? Well, maybe I could take a few classes. My kids are older now. Besides maybe they need to do a few things for themselves. I might be less stressed and angry all the time if I had a hobby that was just for me. Plus, my family might see me differently and appreciate me more. I’ll see myself differently! I’ll appreciate me more! Even if I never become ‘famous’ my life could be filled with joy and pride and a feeling of personal satisfaction.
As a coach, I’ve worked with so many people who are now doing the kinds of things they always dreamed of doing but never thought they could! It’s a source of deep joy for me when my clients are able to move (sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly) towards their heartfelt dreams and desires. I’d love to hear from you. Schedule a no-cost discovery session today.