You were made to be great. You are a unique, gifted creation of God. So then, “Why,” you ask, “am I struggling so much to live my greatness on a daily basis?” That is a fair question, one for which I would like to offer an answer.
As I get to know my clients in our coaching sessions, I have the privilege of seeing two things. First, I marvel at the remarkable person each one is. Second, I am amazed at the ways many are sabotaging themselves, blocking themselves from success.
In the face of the tendency towards self-defeat, there is good news. It is possible to stop being your own worst enemy. You can begin identifying the blocks you have placed between yourself and your goals and start moving them out of the way one by one. Each of us can step into greater potential and power than we currently realize we have. Day after day, I support my clients as they do this. And day after day, I do this inner work for myself.
What blocks keep us from living our greatness? It often boils down to two key issues: self-doubt and fear. Too many minds and hearts are infected by self-doubt. We have doubts about our appearance, our capabilities, our education, our intelligence, and our social standing. Often these doubts arise because we have been subjected to a steady diet of unrealistic standards served up by our media driven society. We have learned to compare ourselves with others. And we are experts at it. We get caught in the trap of trying to live up to external standards. We sap our daily energy seeking acceptance, attempting to gain respect. We lose touch with the natural joy of life; we find ourselves worn out and ridden with fears.
In all of this inner frenzy, we have forgotten something. We do not need to seek external approval. We are already approved by God. We were born loved and valuable. We need not prove this value to anyone. We do not need to model ourselves after friends or co-workers or cultural icons. We simply need to be the best that we can be. We need to accept ourselves and live our personal divine destiny. Only then can we reach to our highest potential, enjoying life and sharing love.
Several years ago during a very dark time in my life, I was guided to a book that had one simple but profound idea. It was this: “In every moment you can choose either a thought of fear or a thought of love. Your choice will determine whether you create a life full of fear and suffering or one full of love and joy.” That idea struck me at my core. I decided that I would begin to watch my thoughts closely to see what I might find.
I was shocked to discover that the overwhelming majority of my thoughts were fear-based. And I was a positive person! After this revelation, I began to observe my thoughts as often and as closely as I could. I jotted down what I found in my journal. My thoughts were riddled with self-doubt and fear. Here are a few examples:
“I’m not a good enough wife or mother. I am a failure. I don’t accomplish enough in a day.”
“Am I going to be stuck in this job forever? The challenge is gone. I just can’t endure this boring routine anymore.”
“I’ll never get ahead. What if I can’t pay my bills this month?”
“I am angry that people don’t take the time to offer me friendship in the way I offer it to them.”
There were positive thoughts in my mind too. But I saw that on a regular basis, my thinking turned to fear, worry and self-doubt. WOW. What a revelation. At first, I was ashamed and saddened. Then I realized the power of what I had uncovered. I was finally aware of the source of my frequent anxiety and unhappiness! I had exposed the root causes of my turbulent emotions. I began to notice a direct connection between certain thoughts and the emotions and physical feelings that accompanied them.
Observation is a powerful tool. With observation comes awareness. With awareness comes the power to change. We can’t change what we are unaware of. However, we can become aware or our thoughts and feelings, and begin to change our minds.
I recommend that you start making use of your “Observer.” Your Observer is that ever-present aspect of yourself that can look into your mind and watch what you are thinking. It also monitors what you are feeling. Have you noticed that while you are talking with someone, you are also thinking thoughts unrelated to the conversation? If you take a moment to pay attention, you will notice the part of you that is watching all of it. That part is your Observer at work.
Our thoughts are like a computer program running in our mind. We tend to allow them to cycle through our minds again and again, on auto-pilot. The majority of these mental programs developed subtly as we internalized messages from our parents, our teachers and society. Without questioning these inputs, we formed unconscious beliefs about ourselves and our lives.
The deep-seated beliefs you have about yourself and your place in life generate your thoughts. Your thoughts trigger your emotions. Your emotions lead to the physical action (or lack thereof) you take in your daily life. So, if you want to bring about major change, you need to get an understanding of the underlying beliefs that direct you. Watching your thoughts is a great place to start. The Observer in you will help you do this.
The Observer is at your disposal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Observer can lead you to an understanding of your patterns of thinking and feeling behind your deeply engrained habits. I suggest you give this Observer in a new role. Make it your helper and constant friend.
Try putting your Observer to work this week:
1. Observe your self-talk. What do you think and say about yourself? What aspects of yourself do you like? What do you judge and criticize? When you expose thoughts of self-doubt and self-hatred, be grateful. This awareness will lead you to dismantle the patterns of self-sabotage that limit you.
2. Observe your fears. Write them down on paper in detail so you can see them clearly. Pay attention to negative emotions that you feel throughout the day. What was the thought that preceded the emotional reaction? If you want to feel emotionally and physically better more of the time, you need to understand the thoughts that are causing you to feel bad emotionally.
3. Notice what percentage of time your thoughts are focused in the past or the future rather than on the present. The past was a present moment that already happened; the future is a present moment that has not yet occurred. Most of us miss the presentthe only moment we have power to change.
That’s plenty to get you started. Use your Observer full-time this week. Get a journal, a notebook or even one sheet of paper and write down your observations. You will quickly begin to identify stressful mental patterns. These insights are opportunities to modify your thinking.
Will you put these ideas into practice? BEWARE IF YOU DO! You will learn, change and grow. You will begin to experience a process of profound transformation that you might never have dreamed possible. You will find yourself opening to the greatness within you.
Food For Thought
“Each of us is great insofar as we perceive and act on the infinite possibilities which lie undiscovered and unrecognized about us.” – James Harvey Robinson