Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.
If you’re reading this, chances are there’s something you want to do or something you want to change but…nothing has happened.
You’ve started a lot of sentences with, “I think it would be really cool to…” or “One of these days I’m going to…” or “I know I need to…” and that’s where the thought stayed. It’s kept you waiting for the perfect timing.
Stop for a second and pinpoint what the thing is that’s been simmering on the back burner for a while.
What would change everything for you? What do you want to be free to do? What do you want to be free from?
To be clear, this is not a how-to guide for changing your life.
This is an honest look at the real reason you’re stuck.
You Know What Being Stuck Feels Like
It’s that thing in the back of your head, nagging you, popping up in your mind right as you sit down to rest or interrupting a joyful moment.
It’s feeling like you’ve been running on a hamster wheel, exhausted, with not much to show for it.
It’s being frustrated with yourself for not doing anything to make it happen.
It’s being envious when you see someone else reaching new levels of success…especially when they’ve been at it for less time than you.
It’s feeling shame about the lack of accomplishment over and over and over.
It feels like depression and restlessness and frustration.
It feels like sitting in the waiting room, remaining there until opportunity calls for your turn but it won’t.
Here’s a small example from one of our team members of putting something off:
Ever since middle school, she found an outlet in writing. Back then it was journaling. As she grew older, that outlet grew into a need to write, and in college, she excelled in English and Creative Writing classes.
One day she made it a goal to write publicly. She wanted to write a book and a blog.
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Over the years of being home with little kids, she blogged about life and processed hard emotions in that sacred online space. It served her well, but she was inconsistent and eventually it faded into the shadows of day-to-day life.
Pan to last year. She was depressed, anxious and completely overwhelmed with life. She’d lost touch with the outlet that had served her entire life and knawing inside her was the feeling that she needed to write.
Forget writing professionally. Forget the book. She needed the process.
She told those closest to her that she knew she needed to write. She thought about it ALL the time. She rehearsed what she would say and how she would say it.
But there was a block… a weird fear that she would fail in some way. She pushed it off for better timing until one day she just couldn’t wait for the best timing anymore.
So, she started a new blog and told zero people about it. She wrote everything eating at her. Scandalous? A bit scathing? YES. And it was therapy. The release of tension seeped into her bones.
She actually went off her anxiety medication for awhile.
The thing eating at her to do was finally out of her. It was the very beginning of a long healing journey.
But why? Why would she wait so long on something she wanted that was meaningful to her?
How Our Brains Can Hinder Us
There’s a scientific link between our brains and being stuck in the same thought patterns.
Your brain is made of soft tissue with little lines running through it called neural pathways. These are formed when we learn something new. As we come across that thought or belief again and again, the pathway is dug out a little deeper, making it easier for us to follow that thought pattern the next time.
We are hardwired to believe the information that is the easiest for our brains to process. Our ancestors equated the things that were familiar to them–their normal routines, the surrounding people, the trails they walked down, etc.–with safety. A change in one of these circumstances could mean imminent death, so we like to stick with what is familiar.
Because our brains are built to protect us, we inherently choose what is known over the unknown and reject change. You can see where this might be a problem.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Stored in every neural pathway of our brain is a script. Repeating the same narrative over and over, solidifies the pathway, making it almost second nature to us.
To make this even more interesting, our brain loves to attach itself to a story. Our imaginations are captured by narratives.
This goes sideways when we tell ourselves the wrong story.
Take a second to chew on this powerful statement:
“The current state of your life is a direct result of the stories you tell yourself, and what you really believe is possible—not what you say is possible, but what you believe deep down in your core.”
So Why ARE You Stuck?
Back to you. You have stories that you tell yourself. We all do. What is the common thought or feeling that you associate with the area you feel stuck in?
That you don’t have enough ______ (time, money, energy, etc)?
You’re not ______ (talented, attractive, disciplined, smart, trained, educated) enough?
That you’ll fail? Be judged? Be gossiped about? Let people down? Let yourself down? Waste resources?
Sometimes the narrative might be, “I’m not influential enough. I don’t have a platform. No one will show up for me or care. How dare I think I could do this? Who do I think I am?”
There are many people that struggle with these narratives that they tell themselves.
Every single one of them is rooted in fear.
What started with a seed of doubt about yourself triggered your brain to repeat its hardwired training to protect you from the unknown.
Known = repeated stories = safety. Unknown = a new, unfamiliar story = danger.
That’s why you keep waiting for the right timing.
So what are you afraid of?
Could it have something to do with getting uncomfortable? Even if what’s comfortable is terrible for you and what’s uncomfortable will change your life for the better.
How to Change Your Limiting Stories
Train your brain to let go of habits:
1. Identify the limiting narratives
What are the fears? What is the story you’ve told yourself?
In the earlier example, our team member told herself that she needed to take care of the responsibilities of adulthood. She wouldn’t be able to fit writing into her schedule because there just wasn’t enough time in the day.
In essence, she told myself that it wasn’t a priority even though it’s important to her well-being.
Have you limited your own potential? Have you set up roadblocks to a better path? Are you scared of the cost, the other areas in your life that might suffer, what you’ll have to give up for something that’s potentially better?
2. Challenge them
This is where you get angry about the lies you’ve believed. Now, you stand up for yourself.
You look at the belief or idea that has kept you where you are and you interrogate it.
You are now a separate entity, staring at the script that has been on repeat and demanding that it shut up. It does not serve you.
An exercise to try:
Write out the area you feel stuck in or the dream that you haven’t taken action on. Write out what has or hasn’t happened that has left you stuck. Write out why it has been hard to make anything happen with your dream. This won’t work if you don’t write out your real thoughts and perceptions.
So this is the story. Now question it. Poke holes in it. Stare it down from the perspective of an outsider.
Are there any places where you possibly misunderstood a situation or person? Could you have made assumptions or projections about any part of this story? Is there missing information? Did you fill in the gap with your own understanding or perspective? What parts are undeniably, 100% true and what parts are still a little fuzzy?
3. Rewrite them
You are now the editor and the scriptwriter. This part may require you to go back to childhood as that is when most of our false conclusions about ourselves started.
If you’ve made yourself small because you don’t believe you are deserving of a high level of success, was there a point in your childhood that you felt like you didn’t deserve something good? Did you receive the message that only a “good” child gets ______?
This hard work and you are doing more right now to heal and grow than most people ever do.
When you uncover rooted lies and see that they don’t give a full picture of who you are, let it go.
You are going to start telling yourself a new story.
Instead of the thought loop, “I have too much to do. I don’t have time to write. There will be space for that when the kids are older,” she challenged it and replaced it with a new story:
“How long have I been a mom/wife? And how long have I been me? Are these mutually exclusive? So does my role as a mother trump my identity as myself?
“I show up to my role as a mother as the real me. My kids need me to show up as myself. Not a hollowed-out, watered-down version of myself. And I need to show up as me. I need to honor who I am and how I process. Being healthy and whole as my full self is not an optional activity anymore. I need to fit writing into my life.”
4. Repeat them
Write it down. Put it on your bathroom mirror and on the dashboard of your car. Tell yourself the new story on repeat even if you don’t believe it yet.
Sit quietly with it in the morning or before bed and repeat it to yourself as you meditate on it.
Here’s the magic of the brain. It doesn’t know that you’re struggling to believe it. It just knows that you are introducing a new story and it is now creating a pathway of thinking that will later turn into belief.
You are literally changing the landscape of your brain. This is a powerful step.
5. Assign Action to the New Narrative
Here’s where you solidify everything you just did. You act on the new narrative.
More than likely, no one is going to ask you to start that business. No one is going to ask you to feel your best. No one is coming to offer you the dream job. The pieces are not going to simply fall into place for you.
Stop waiting for it. Remember the new narrative and do something different than you did before. This will feel uncomfortable and may be hard, but that’s ok.
This is a sign that very good things are happening in you. Your life is changing.
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