Creating Change: Identify your inner obstacles to change
I\’m sure you aware of some things you want to change in your life, that your heart longs for. It is likely that these longings have been with you for quite a while, but you have not been able to achieve them – yet.
Now is the time to find out what has been stopping you, so that you can finally dissolve those blocks. Although objective real-life obstacles may sometimes exist, what usually holds us back are our inner obstacles – our fears and negative beliefs. Some of them we hear in our self-talk, the things we tell ourselves. This self-talk can be very harsh – we may even call ourselves names at times. We often treat ourselves worse than we would treat anyone else. We also have habits of thought that seem very rational to us: the “yes-buts,” the logical, lawyerly objections that are hard to identify as limiting beliefs because we just think they\’re true. And then there are fears and beliefs that are truly unconscious and which we may need help in detecting.
One excellent technique for exposing these buried beliefs is called a Repeating Question. I learned this method from my many years of study of the Diamond Approach of A.H. Almaas, a psycho-spiritual path of self-development and self-realization.
In a Repeating Question, the same question is asked repeatedly, eliciting new answers each time. You can do it alone, asking yourself the question over and over, and writing the answers by hand or at a keyboard, or speaking and recording them. Or you can have a friend ask you the questions, jotting down your answers.
In this case the question (or request) is “Tell me a reason why you can\’t have [or be or do] ___________.” You fill in the blanks to fit your personal vision of what it is you want but are not achieving. Answer quickly and spontaneously with whatever springs to mind, in a short sentence. Then ask and answer again, each time letting a fresh answer arise. Repeat the process until you run out of answers, but continue even after you think you\’re through, giving yourself at least ten minutes for this exercise. You may be surprised by what is there.
After completing the first question, you might try a second one: “What\’s right about not having __________?” Where the first question may expose feelings of inadequacy or fear of failure, the second is more likely to reveal indirect benefits of staying where you are, such as safety, not threatening people in your life, not taking on too much. Both sets of answers may sound totally reasonable to you.
Here are some fears that keep us from going after what we want. See if any of them ring a bell for you:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success (yes, success!)
- Fear of being judged or criticized
- Fear of not being good enough (or young enough, smart enough, accomplished enough… etc. ad infinitum)
- Fear of rejection or loss of love
- Fear of being alone or abandoned
- Fear of embarrassment or humiliation
- Fear of intimacy
- Fear of emotional pain and suffering
- Fear of loss or becoming homeless
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of death
Some people believe that money and success are dangerous or tainted, that their success would threaten others, or that going after what they want is selfish and therefore bad.
Needless to say, these fears are rarely, if ever, based on reality. You will discover which ones come up for you. When you read over your answers, see if you can hear the source of your beliefs. Do you hear the voice of a parent, a teacher, your early religious teachings, or well-meaning friends?
A third question that may shed more light on this area is “Tell me a way you keep yourself from having _________.” With these answers you may surprise yourself by discovering ways that your ordinary behavior and everyday habits keep you from moving beyond your comfort zone, protect you from taking risks, or perpetuate self-defeating patterns.