When I surveyed women about what they wanted help with the most, two things rose straight to the top of the pile—balancing all the many aspects of your life, and getting out of your own way. So I’m running a series of posts on both, starting with getting out of your own way.
I get why this is such a popular topic—putting myself in a little box that I couldn’t seem to break out of is something that I have experienced in my own life in a few different ways, and it comes up with my clients frequently too.
We all have these hidden beliefs that we don’t realize are behind so many of the parts of our lives where we feel stuck.
For example, I had a client who grew up in a poor neighborhood. Where most of her neighbors were dealing with addiction and poverty, she had a dedicated mom who kept the house spotless and three meals on the table every day. She grew up feeling guilty for feeling any kind of sadness or dissatisfaction, because she knew—and she had it drilled in to her—that she had it so much better than nearly all of the neighbors. Fast forward a few decades, and she’s still got that fear of doing “too” well and not feeling like she’s entitled to feel the way she feels. It makes perfect sense, right? Who wouldn’t potentially feel that way, given a similar upbringing?
I had another client whose mother was an absolute perfectionist, and probably a true narcissist too. This mother didn’t pay much attention to my client except to criticize, which only fueled him to try harder to dazzle his mom with his skills—art, cooking, school work, you name it, this guy is off-the-charts good and mostly self-taught to boot. Today he is a talented artist, among other wonderful things, but he’s scared to put himself out there in the way he needs to do in order to be able to sell more of his pieces. Again—it makes total sense.
Most often, the decision to hold yourself back happens below the surface of the conscious mind. Which means it can stay out of your view for years and years.
That’s what this series of posts is about–seeing how you’ve been getting in your own way so you can stop doing it and start doing the things that are calling to you on a deeper level without sabotaging yourself.
I’ve got a slew of strategies to help you do this, and the one I’m going to cover today is:
Stop trying so danged hard to figure everything out
Part of the reason we get in our own way is that we’re only ever taught really one way to go about things—which is to think harder and work harder. We spend years in school learning how to problem solve, and while critical thinking is helpful for discerning what’s needed at any given moment, the issue with problem solving is that when do it, we only find more problems.
FACT: What you focus on grows. So if you’re a problem-solver, look for solutions instead. (Click to Tweet!)
Please let this in:
You are not a problem.
Your life is not a problem to be figured out.
Neither is your husband, your kid, your mom, your friend.
Everything is workable, and everything that’s happening has a loving reason behind it.
I can’t promise that when you stop trying to figure everything it you will automatically become 100% Zen 100% of the time. But you will find more peace and more liberation from old ways of thinking, and those are both beautiful things.
If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing that you are probably feeling frustrated on some level that you aren’t farther along than you are. I want you to know that where you are right now is the perfect place to be.
This is the perspective that’s available to you when you stop trying to problem solve: Whatever brought you to read this article today has exactly what you need contained within it to get you to break free of whatever box you’ve put yourself in.
Here’s an exercise to make all this think-y stuff actionable:
Imagine yourself 5 years from now.
What does this future self want you to know about whatever you’re experiencing right now?
If your company is facing a round of layoffs, what will your future self know about the opportunities that’s bringing to fruition even as you read this?
If you’re single, what does your future self know that this time is giving you the opportunity to heal, so that you can be the person who has the relationship that right now only feels like a dream?
Jot down whatever’s floating around in your mind that your future self would like you to know. You can come back to it later and give it more thought, but know that you typically know a lot more about what’s true for you at any given moment than you are aware of, and sometimes all it takes is simply asking and recording what comes up.
I’ll be back next week with tool #2 for getting out of your own way: See where you stop yourself.
And if you have any questions or insights from reading this, I’d love to hear ‘em! Leave a comment below.