I'm probably going to annoy some people or upset your way of thinking. I want to devote today's post to something I'm equally passionate about. I'm a HUGE advocate of, even though it still feels like a major obstacle to overcome, every time I think about it. Before I get started, I want to say that I'd like to dedicate this post to my younger self. The me that couldn't dream big enough to see where my life would end up. And the me who had no idea that for every mountain she would climb, after reaching that pinnacle, it would also be the beginning of a climb on a new mountain. To her, I'd like to tell her that one day in her 40s, she will appreciate that she wasn't always quiet when she was told she talked too much (I prefer to say I'm still loquacious to a fault). She shouldn't back down if someone makes her cry. And when you grow up, if there is money on the negotiating table, ask for it. If there is something you believe in, stand for it. And when you learn how to do better...be loquacious and audacious...and share it.
Now, let's explore some reasons your thoughts are holding you back, and keeping you from saying what you want. I think I've settled on 4 types of thinking that keep some of us from both reaching our potential and enjoying the career and life that we design. I've already said that this might be a touchy post or controversial. It's okay, I'm open to the conversation.
Personal Belief System - There is so much to unpack in this one. What do you believe about yourself? Do you think that you don't deserve certain opportunities because of some characteristics or flaws? I can name a bunch that used to limit me. There was a time that I would use anything to tell myself that I wasn't qualified or that I was undeserving. There are still a few moments that I'm intimated and those little gremlins try to creep up in my mind to discourage and distract me again. Do you look over your life and assess opportunities and immediately count yourself out? Like, maybe you're like me and didn't graduate from college and you believe that will limit you from having any sort of success or diminishes your earning potential. Maybe you're a woman in her 40s and would love to start a family but you feel like you're getting to the midpoint and it might be too late. Maybe you want to own a home but not sure if your income will allow the home of your dreams. The reason I think this is so easy, to have these thoughts that tell you all about your flaws, is because everything you are telling yourself, about yourself, is 100% true. None of it is a lie. That part makes it so convincing. Because these are all facts. But these aren't the only facts at play. Life, surroundings, and societal narratives have really conditioned us to believe that just because a part of our life has flaws, WE are ultimately flawed. And because we are flawed, we must be a failure. The other side of our truth is, even with some blemishes, you can still have good fruit.
Family Beliefs and Traditions - Saying that I love my family, is a general statement that has some boundaries. Because while I love my ENTIRE family, I'm not taking financial advice, parenting advice, career advice, decorating advice, or advice-advice from some of them. Meanwhile, others have some valuable insight in some of those areas and it's possible I'd listen or even ask for their input. I recognized long ago, that we are only bound to the opinions and beliefs of our families until the point that we are able to develop our own opinions and belief systems. While there are traditions that I hold dear and have used to them nurture my own family, I also understand that not every family tradition is worth carrying forward into adulthood. For instance, maybe your family has very specific beliefs or traditions that revolve around gender roles. This might have an impact on what you believe you deserve as a woman. Other learned behaviors that affect how you view yourself and how you make decisions or how you believe you should be treated. The truth is anything that hurts you or your ability to move forward, you should consider letting it go. That includes traditions and beliefs passed down from our families. So often, those things are carried forward, not because they have any significant meaning, but because it's just what we've always done. That's not a good reason to limit yourself.
Outside voices and opinions of others - Our social circles extend to co-workers, classmates, neighbors, significant others, friends, and our beloved social media feed. All of these voices impute their opinions and experiences upon us, and sometimes it's unsolicited. We open ourselves up to imposter syndrome, comparison paralysis, and other almost crippling mental blocks, simply because we are measuring our progress according to what other people are doing, what they believe, and how they feel. We have enough indecision on our own without loading ourselves up with the pressures of trying to compete with other someone else's experience. Let's keep it 100...most of the time people live a life on the Gram, that only exists on the Gram. Click, like...boom.
Our own fear - When I was a child, I was taught in Sunday School that Fear means False Evidence Appearing Real. As I've gotten older, I believe that is only partly true. We definitely create fear based on what we believe something to be. The unknown frightens people. But fear is also an indicator. It comes to alert you that things are changing and that you probably need to make some adjustments. What if you decided to go base-jumping for the first time. You are going to be terrified, even if the instructor makes you aware of the safety measures and everything that goes with it. Base-jumping is something new. New might scare you. But it might also excite and invigorate you.
We are contending with so many thoughts, opinions, words, messages every moment of the day. It only reinforces that we need to make sure that what we feed ourselves is good for our soul. You are not what you've done. Stop allowing your negative experiences to define you solely. Your experiences shape your decisions and contribute to who you are. But they also serve to create new experiences and learning opportunities. Don't get stuck there. Think about it...I hate liver. The first time I ate liver, I threw-up. The way it was prepared was ilk, and I'd never eat that again...intentionally. I had Pate later in life. I thought it was some of the most delicious paste I'd ever had lol. My previous experience with liver was completely overshadowed by Pate. I still HATE LIVER. Yes, I do, I don't care what you think lol. My failing point is, our experiences aren't the end result. We will have new experiences and form new opinions and learn new lessons. We continue to grow and evolve, adapt, and change. Learn to see yourself differently. Speak well of yourself. Love yourself enough to create a different experience for yourself. You can totally do this. And you have permission. During this 4th quarter, let's try something different. Be good to yourself.
These are absolutely my thoughts...