When we feel stuck in our lives, it is usually not due to lack of possible solutions. It’s happening because of our lack of trust that we can choose the right one or that we can handle the situation if things don’t go the way we expected. We all have dreams and desires and many times they remain abstract, something that might possibly ‘happen’ one day if we get lucky enough. A a coach, I ask myself (and my clients) this question every day, over and over again: What is it that is keeping us from trusting ourselves, especially when the ‘rules’ we chose to follow are not serving us in our life?
First, let’s take a closer look into some examples of ‘rules’ that we are all following, at least from time to time:
- The personal brand that we have created for ourselves. Everyone thinks I’m doing so great. If I quit my amazing job right now, people will think I’m a spoiled brat. They would kill for the opportunity that was given to me.
- Expectation of society. I feel that I don’t want to have kids but if I miss my opportunity now, I will regret it forever and my life will miss a purpose.
- Our own expectations. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 10 years old. I’m not excited about practising law anymore — what is wrong with me?
- Our own judgements about ourselves. I’m not that type of person. I would never be able to promote myself as a freelancer.
- ‘Babysitting’ your future self. If I quit now I will never be able to find a job. It’s better to stay safe where I am.
- Expectations of our families. My parents love my boyfriend. If I break up with him now, they will think I’m crazy.
- Time pressure & trying to ‘schedule’ your life events. If I go and travel for two years now, I might never meet my soulmate. When I’m back it might be too late to find someone to start a family with.
It is not so surprising that we feel paralyzed when it comes to making changes in our lives. Our own voice is fighting with so many other, stronger ones! The stronger voices come from the ‘wisdom’ and ‘experience’ while you are only making your first attempt to live this life so how can you be capable of making an important decision?
The thing is, our brain prefers stability because evolution-wise, stability increases the chance of our physical survival. Taking risks may lead to improvement of our situation, but it is not guaranteed, therefore it is more efficient to stay where we are. All the voices and rules and ‘wisdom’ that you hear are trying to make you ‘safe’. Your physical body survives, stays in comfort and ideally even manages to reproduce. What these voices don’t really care about is your happiness and fulfillment. You may want to argue with me here and say “What if safety is what makes me happy?” and as a coach, I would ask you “What does safety truly mean to you?”
- Is it staying in a not-that-great (or even abusive) relationship because you might never find someone else? Or is it learning how to rely on yourself and be happy on your own?
- Is it keeping a stable job where you get easily affected by moods of your boss? Or is it finding a career where you exactly know your place and purpose?
- Is it believing that you are not able to sell your work as a writer and stock your writing work in your drawer? Or is it the knowing that you did all you could to show your work to the world no matter what the feedback was?
- Is safety knowing what exactly will happen every day for the rest of your life? Or is it knowing you will always be the one in control over your life?
What are you noticing about your reaction? What is your ‘safety’? Are the ‘rules’ working for you? If not, maybe it’s time to start designing your own. After all, no one else should be the leader of your life than you, because at the end of the day, you are the one who lives the consequences of your decisions, and no one else.