I am taking an online writing course that includes a module on overcoming blocks. These are the fears or limiting beliefs that hold us back. The instructor suggested writing down all of these beliefs and responding to them as you would respond to a friend. In other words, not with the same nasty voice that created these obstacles to begin with. The idea is that by identifying and shedding light on these fears, they will begin to dissipate.
Maybe you have fewer blocks than I do, maybe you have more. I am sharing this exercise in the hope that it might be helpful to you too. To be clear, the idea here is not to focus on the negative, rather, the goal is to flip the script by refuting and reframing limiting beliefs.
What if I’m not smart enough to figure out the things I need to do?
You don’t have any evidence that this is true. You have college degrees and tend to do solid work. You don’t have any known mental insufficiencies. So what’s the problem? Maybe when you have to do something new and you don’t understand it right away, you think that means something about you and your abilities. It doesn’t. It just means you’re learning something new and you don’t know how to do it yet. You’ve done hard things before, you can do them again. If you need help, you can ask for it.
What if people laugh at me or think I’m foolish?
Most people are probably not even paying attention to you. And if they are mean, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. Sometimes people are unkind and it doesn’t feel good. You might feel discouraged or embarrassed. Those feelings will pass. They always do.
What if I’m not young enough or pretty enough?
First of all, you’re not old and ugly. Second of all, how is that even relevant? If you were very young and beautiful, would that mean you had more talent and more important things to say? Of course not. In fact, you gain more wisdom as you get older and your life experiences give you a deeper well to draw from. In terms of your appearance, the things that you don’t like about yourself are sometimes the very things that make you interesting and unique.
What if I don’t have enough talent? What if I have nothing of value inside of me and nothing to contribute to the world?
This one hurts, doesn’t it? This one makes your heart ache and your throat feel tight. I don’t know what to tell you to make it better. I can’t promise you that you will ever be successful or that people will like what you write. You have to let go of the outcome and do it anyway. Because what’s the alternative? The months and years will pass either way. You never know how your words might help someone else. You never know when being seen will help someone else to feel less alone. And even if it doesn’t help anyone else, it will help you. The words you leave unsaid and unwritten will weigh you down. They will feel like rocks in your pockets and you will sink. You have to trust that this desire was planted in you for a reason. You have to keep showing up and your confidence and skills will grow.
What this exercise reminds me is that so many of our fears are self-created and not based on reality. That we are often the cause of our suffering and discomfort. Can you imagine what might happen if we harnessed the energy we spent worrying about things that might never happen?
Do you have any fears that hold you back?