The obstacle within.
Is there something that you want to do, some change you want to make in your life, but you feel blocked?
I don’t mean changing who you are, rather changing how you are in the world.
Maybe you want to start a business, take a poetry class, pick up cycling or do more yoga?
What’s keeping you from making this change?
What’s blocking you from perhaps taking a small step forward?
Pay attention to the obstacle inside you.
An inside job.
It’s easy to think of reasons why we don’t do the things that we want to do. Inertia alone is difficult to overcome, never mind the myriad of excuses that we all lean on (too busy, too much responsibility, no time).
Only you can verify just how valid these excuses are. For many people, the struggle around money, time, and energy are real.
Some of us, however, have obstacles that exist in our beliefs and ideas of who we are.
For those of us who are like this, we have to be curious about the fears and judgments that keep us from taking a risk.
Fear and judgment.
When I was in college, I wanted to do an independent project on the American author, Henry Miller. I stumbled on his writing while living in Europe and found his books to be intriguing, freeing, and problematic. I had this idea that I might like to do an in-depth project on him for my English major.
When the independent project deadline came, I froze. I had a lot of reasons why I chose not to submit a proposal, but the main issue was that I was afraid.
Of what, exactly?
That’s the funny thing about this kind of fear. I had no awareness of it, no specific understanding of what I was trying to avoid.
In hindsight, I imagine that I was afraid of my limitations. It was easier not to do it, than to fail at doing it.
What if I embarrassed myself?
Therein lies the rub. Embarrassment is the feeling that signals we might not belong here. It’s the social cue that keeps us in check, most of the time.
We would rather stay in our caves than venture out into the wild and get eaten or lost.
We can become paralyzed by anticipating the judgment of others (or the “others” of our mind).
What if I fail? Who would I be? What would I do?
It’s the wolf that guards the door between who we are and who we could be.
Facing the wolf.
Every time I find myself avoiding an action or resisting a change, I take a moment to settle down and look at the resistance.
What am I trying to avoid?
Usually, I try to imagine a wolf standing between me and the thing that I know I want to do. It guards the gates, showing me just what it is that intimidates me. What it is that’s inside me that I am trying to avoid.
When I was in college, it was the fear of recognizing that I was responsible for my own learning. Up until then (and beyond that moment), I put all the blame of my limitations on others. It was easier to blame the teachers than it was to take responsibility for myself. The independent study would be something that I would have had to own completely, so I avoided it.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve had to make better friends with my wolf. The more I accept it and lean into it, the easier the change is.
If you have something that you want, something important to you, check to see what’s in the way.
What is that wolf showing you?
How are you trying to stay safe?
Figure out whether this fear is attached to something real, or if it’s a belief designed to keep you safe.
(Examples of beliefs: I’m not good enough, I don’t belong, I have to be perfect, etc…).
The clearer you can be about the belief, the easier it is to begin to deconstruct it.
The closer you can be to freedom.
The goal is freedom to be yourself.
When we’re about to move through that fear, and we feel blocked, we can begin to feel trapped by our circumstances. You might notice that you look around and all you see are obstacles. It’s not that those obstacles aren’t real, it’s just that our perspective changes how we interpret them. Imagine stepping up to a hurdle event in track and field, only to quit because there were obstacles in the way.
It’s an integral part of the game.
What if we saw the hurdles in our own life as part of the work?
And what’s the goal?
To discover and express who you are (your “you-ness”) in the purest and clearest way possible.
This is what I want for my clients and what I want for myself.
Imagine a world where people felt more free to be themselves, without judgment or shame?
(Note: freedom to be yourself is not the same as freedom to act like a jerk. I’ll do some writing on that later.)
What would you do if you didn’t feel stymied or held back?
How would you want to express yourself? What risks might you take?
Rather than being afraid of the wolf, see it as a sign that you are on the right path.
See it as an opportunity to become more of who you’re meant to be.
The Italian saying for good luck goes, “in bocca al lupo” or “into the mouth of the wolf.”
Take the chance and lean into your own obstacles.
You will love and appreciate the person waiting for you on the other side.
Into the wolf.
As a side note: this is what my book will be about, in so many words. What does it take to take how we communicate and present ourselves in this world? We have to be willing to change in a simple and subtle way, which will require us to step into the wolf with courage and faith.