In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.
This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project
Week 9: In Order to See the Path to What You Want, You Must First See What is Hold You Back.
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” -C. JoyBell C.
You Gotta Move Forward, But First…
See what’s’ holding me back? What do you mean? I know EXACTLY what I want, and what path to take, but everyone else is getting in the way. I’m not the problem, everything and everyone else is!
Really? I’m sorry to break it to you, but I highly doubt that everyone else is the problem, and you have nothing to do with YOUR OWN PROBLEM. Yes, sometimes there’s some red tape in your way. And yes, sometimes, people in positions higher than you can deter your progress up the latter of growth (for instance in work situations). However, if you REALLY want to grow, and REALLY want to move forward, why are you still letting these people or things get in your way? Take a minute and really think about it. You can’t control how other people or things pan out, only how you do. If you want things to be different you have to change. Sometimes, that means quitting your job to pursue your passions. Sometimes that means taking the road less traveled. But you always have the choice to say, “No, I will not take this anymore, I want better for myself, and I know I deserve better, so SEE YOU LATER friend!”
When you get into the pattern of saying (and believing) that you are not the problem and your external circumstances are, you get into the pattern of allowing everything and everyone else to control you. When you believe that you have options, and you control your own destiny, that is when you break free from the perceived barriers that are holding you back.
We all have things within ourselves that are holding us back, -some of them small, some of them large. But the real problem is not that these things exist, it’s that most people aren’t self-aware enough to even know they exist.
The Story of the Elephant That Never Knew His Own Strength
The first trick an elephant trainer teaches an elephant is not to escape. When the elephant is still a baby, the trainer chains the little baby elephants legs to a huge log, so when/if the elephant tries to escape, the log prevents it from doing so. The log is bigger, and stronger, and so, the elephant gives up. Eventually, the elephant becomes to used to being captive to this log (and the trainer), that even when it has grown to adult size and is big, huge and strong, all the trainer has to do is merely tie the chain around the elephant’s leg to anything, -even a tiny, itty bitty twig, -and the elephant won’t even attempt to escape. Essentially, the elephant (despite its strength) has become a prison of its past. (Story adapted from “How to be Happy Dammit: A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness”)
How do you fix something that you don’t even know exists? You have to revisit your past. For some of you, you likely have to revisit the very beginning of your little baby existence as well. What we see in our childhood, -what we learn in our childhood, and internalize, stays with us forever. Sometimes the lessons are for our benefit and sometimes they are not. How many of you say sometimes, “I constantly hear my Mother or Father saying such and such in my ear…” But it’s those voices that are holding you back.
You might be saying, “So what? That was then, this is now. My childhood has nothing to do with this situation. I’ve moved on, and so should you.” Okay, you can take that stance. But I promise you, no matter how many times you repeat that, the chances that you have dealt with every little thing from you past, and have forgiven, and forgotten, and used it for your benefit, and have grown from it, etc., etc., etc., unless you’re some sort of spiritual guru who has found absolute enlightenment, YOU HAVEN’T DEALT WITH IT OR MOVED ON. Why do I take this stance so strongly? Because we are not taught to reflect on our lives so internally, and reflect on our feelings, or why we feel a certain way about something, or why we do the things we do. Most of them have been modeled for us, without explanation. Did you not hear from your parents, “Because I said so…” countless times throughout your childhood, and maybe now you repeat it to your children? Even things that seemed minuscule from our past often lie deep within our hearts and minds impacting us daily, but they’re so deep, we never realize it was that one thing that changed our belief about something, or changed our path in life.
Unfinished Business and the Weight of the Past
We all have internal work to do. It’s inevitable that we all have baggage from our past that we’ve never bothered to open and sort through. We’ve pacified it with a band-aid and have worked quite hard to forget it. But it hasn’t worked. It’s just changed shape into the form of a tiny little metaphorical “twig”.
Just like the elephant, there are “twigs” holding each of us back. The pain from our past often holds us hostage. Sometimes is childhood experiences, it’s your parents, It’s being chosen last for the dodge ball team in 2nd grade, it’s never making the varsity team, it’s not going to your #1 college pick, or not getting the job you wanted, or being rejected by whomever, or whatever. Face it. We ALL have these “twigs” whether we like it or not. And the only way to realize that it’s just a twig and that you can walk away from it is to accept the fact that the twig exists, and pull that band-aid off and to realize that this little twig can be dealt with (with some work of course), and removed. In order to see the path to what you want, you must first see what is holding you back! It is then, and only then, that you can start moving forward.
I know what many people say, and many wise people at that: The only way to move forward is to let go of your past.
Trust me, I do understand this statement, but so is true that those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it. Yes, there is a time to let go, and move on, but you can never truly “let go” if you can’t make sense of it, learn from it, or heal from it. Until you can do this it will continue to resurface in a multitude of ways and will continue to impact your life. In the counseling and the psychology field, we call this, “unfinished business”, and working on it is essential for not only clients, but counselors as well. So much so, that ethically, counselors are obligated to seek counseling or some sort of outlet to work through their unfinished business because if not, it can subconsciously work its way into the counseling relationship and really ruin the clients’ progress.
On that note, I leave you with this quote:
“The only way out is through.”
- Do you feel as though something is holding you back in life, but you can’t put your finger on it?
- Do you hear your parents (or someone else) saying such-and-such in your ear when you try to make decisions?
- Do you recall a traumatic experience from you childhood?
- What “twigs” can you identify?
- What current situations or thoughts make you feel anxious, or sad, or bring up an emotional response rather quickly? These are triggers for you.
- What fears do you have about doing the next big thing in your life? Is this a fear that you’ve had before? Can you pinpoint when it started and where it came from?
- What patterns, phases, or behaviors do you recall existing in your childhood? What was most modeled to you as a child? That is, what big themes about life and behavior do you gather from your childhood? Today, these likely look like personal values, norms, rules and expectations.
*Many of the ideas for the awakened heart project come from the book “How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness” by Karen Salmansohn.
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