Perhaps it’s because we have been amidst a pandemic and left alone with our thoughts for close to a year now, but I have continuously found myself asking “what if…”
What if I could travel to x?
What if I started a business with y?
What if I created z?
With extra time spent at home and even more time spent alone, I’ve been able to start to really uncover some of my deepest ambitions, goals, and aspirations. Questions of “what if” have been thought about at length and plans to make them a reality have started falling into place. Now, to be clear, this wasn’t an overnight success—and, to be completely honest, is still a work in progress, but there has been an especially integral practice that has gotten me this far in this journey.
I started to identify, recognize, and get curious about self-limiting beliefs.
I would find myself saying “What if I started a podcast,” and almost immediate to follow was a voice that said “Why? So that you could create something that nobody would listen to?” or “Don’t put yourself through that, nobody cares what you have to say anyway.” And, for a long time, those negative voices won.
I’d get a cringey feeling in my body—a discomfort, and would move on with my day without giving the “what if” a second thought. You see, as humans, we are programmed to seek safety, to move out of discomfort and back into comfort or equilibrium. In learning to identify these self-limiting beliefs, I also learned to lean into discomfort.
Instead of forgetting, moving on, or distracting myself from the feeling of discomfort the self-limiting beliefs would bring, I sat in the discomfort and got curious about it. I’d ask those voices things like, “Why do you think I’d fail” or “What are you trying to teach me?” Most often, when I’d sit in that, I’d get answers like “We are trying to protect you” or “We are trying to spare you potential pain.”
Now I could soften to these feelings of discomfort. Instead of resenting them from holding me back from my dreams and goals, I could thank them for their desire to keep me safe. I would negotiate with them. I would reach outside of my comfort zone and wait for a response. That response could be uncomfortable as my heart raced, palms began to sweat, or breath quickened. Then, when my breath would return back to normal, I’d ask, “Was that so bad?”
Often times our perceived failures are much worse than any reality. The truth of the matter is, as humans, we have unlimited amounts of potential. It can be scary to break the mold, reach for the stars, or follow our dreams. The fall from the top feels too steep to risk.
I’m here to invite you to explore. Explore your boundaries. Explore your dreams. Explore your fears. Be open to what answers may come when we dare to believe in ourselves.
What might it feel like if you gave yourself the same permission?