A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called Let Go. Since then, I've been thinking about why it's so darned hard to let go of the things we want to release. The logical side of our brains can tell us that we want to change, but there are other factors at play. Unless we address those hidden drivers, it's really hard to sustain a meaningful transformation.
The first step in letting go of a burden is the ability to identify it. That, by itself, is a huge feat. Many of us walk through life not knowing that our fear of failure or jealousy are holding us back from what we're really seeking in life. But as you probably know, you can't just identify a burden have it simply fly away.
There are systems in place that keep us stuck. They are so engrained into who we are that we need to pull back the layers until we get to the spot that can be transformed. Sometimes, true transformation needs to be facilitated by a mental health professional. Other times, coaching questions can give us enough insight to shift our perspectives for a long-term change.
On this week's #WeLiveBigWednesdays Challenge I invited you to identify something that's weighing you down from living your biggest, boldest, most authentic life. If you've identified a burden that you're ready to release, think through these questions. Journaling is a great way to process through the layers. You can also ask a trusted friend to help you explore these questions aloud.
- How does your burden serve you? For example, your temper might be protecting you from being vulnerable and having someone see a truth about you that's hard to face. Your procrastination might be protecting you from pushing yourself to your limit so you won't fail. Your need to be in control could protect you from people finding out that under the surface, you feel like an imposter.
Once you can get real with yourself and appreciate why you've been behaving this way for so long, you can have a conversation with that deeper part of you that needs protection.
- How might your deep-seated values get in the way? In my case, through some excellent coaching, I came to realize that my subconscious value of humility was fighting my conscious desire for financial abundance. Growing up, humility was an important value in our household. I'm not sure my parents ever used that word, but the value was modeled in a number of ways. They were humble about their jobs. They were modest in their spending. They were discreet with their opinions.
Until I was able to explore how humility and abundance could peacefully co-exist, and even support each other, I couldn't move forward on really fulfilling my dreams. Do I want to let go of humility? No. But I am ready to let go of the idea that I can't be humble if I'm wildly successful. What would be at stake if you decided to really go for it?
- How do you define yourself? When we define ourselves through others' opinions and society's lens, letting go of others' expectations can be pretty scary. I had a coaching client become very upset at a some constructive feedback in a 360 review. I asked him where he found his sense of identity. His answer, "In other people's opinions of me, of course. How else would I define myself?"
This is an entirely normal way to build your identity, but it's not the only way, and after a while it may not serve you. When we have this view, it's hard to let go of the weight of I'm not enough, and Needing others' approval. Especially if you were raised in an household where you were taught you weren't worthy of approval, things, or success, this may take some dedicated work. But the truth is that you are worthy. The simple fact that you're here on this earth makes you worthy of living into your dreams.
- What stories frame your world? We experience the world in stories. Some stories serve us and others hold us back. When we've been living in a story for a long time, it can be hard to see the difference between our story and reality. Our story becomes our reality, limiting us from the life we long to live. If your story is "I'm destined to be a D student," you'll probably live into that story.
If you want to change a limiting story, you need to use a clever trick to help build a new narrative. Instead of trying to change your story from "I'm a D student," to "I'm an A student," practice saying, "I work hard to understand the content of the class." Your mind will sense the trick of changing from a D student to an A student, but it will accept a repeated mantra of "I work hard..." What stories do you tell yourself? Can you distinguish them from reality? Are they serving or limiting you?
While letting go sounds like a simple enough process, the systems of how we see and interact with the world get in the way. Our protective mechanisms, our values, our self-definitions and our stories all have the potential to weigh us down.
If you really want to release your grasp on your limiting beliefs, it will take work and perhaps the help of a professional. But when your world shifts, doors will open and you can soar.
#WeLiveBigWednesdays Week 4
Last Wednesday I announced our Week 4 Challenge: Let Go. I invite you to complete the challenge, share it on your social media with the tags @welivebig and #welivebigwednesdays, and urge your friends to play along too. Tune in each Wednesday morning at 9am EST on the We Live Facebook page for a live post of the weekly challenge where I'll ask you to flex your courage muscles by stepping out of your comfort zone.
Soar Launches Thursday, June 1st
We are amping up to launch our next interactive public art project, Soar. Soar invites people to consider what weight is holding them back from living their biggest, boldest most authentic lives. When they're ready to let that burden go, they write it on a rock, place that rock at the bottom of the installation and hang an origami bird to symbolize their lightness and freedom.
Like other We Live Big projects, I'll create the framework and the public will create the art through their participation. You can participate by visiting the empty lot by 2213 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA between Thursday, June 1 at 6pm and Saturday, June 24 @ 1pm.
Not local? Send me a note with what you want to let go of and I'll add your rock and bird to the display. Want to bring Soar to your community? Contact me!