Are you aware of your inner blocking system?
Those lurkers in your psyche who do not want you to step out of your comfort zone.
The inner critic that questions everything you do.
What are you thinking? Who are you to forge your own path? Do you really think you can pull this off?
This negative voice is close cousins with imposter syndrome. They gang up on you and list all the ways your dreams and wishes are not going to work out. I picture this force as being well intended in trying to protect me, but they somehow end up doing the opposite.
Think about those strict crossing guards that we see in the neon yellow jackets. They blow their whistles and aggressively wave their arms to direct traffic and protect the elementary students that spill out of school each afternoon.
My mind's crossing guard similarly stands in front of me watching the street ahead, with his blinding attire and red hand in my face signaling to halt, stop, wait. I think to myself Well, Gee, I want to check out that opposite side of the street, I am fascinated by what is over there. Before I can complete the thought, my crossing guard whips his head around and yells "No! It is not safe out there. You will be hit by a car. Now is not the time. You know this side of the street and you are comfortable here. Why change things up? Maybe someday you will be able to take a chance, but definitely not right now."
How many of us tell ourselves that someday we will do X..Y..Z..? But for today we stay comfortable and stick to our side of the street.
My crossing guard means well. Truly. He doesn't want me to get hurt, so he forces me to play things safe. I would often get on my tiptoes to peek over his shoulder. Maybe once the cars slow down, he will let me run... After being disappointed over and over by this entity blocking me from my visions, my desires eventually became suffocated.
I had listened to my guard for so long that I hardly even looked at the other side of the street anymore because it was too unbearable. I lost interest. What was the point if I could never get over there?
After years of negotiating with the crossing guard until I was blue in the face, I eventually realized that no matter how long I talked to this guy, no matter how hard I tried to convince him that I am strong and smart enough to cross the street, to take a chance, he was never going to let up. So I assimilated to my learned helplessness* by getting more comfortable on my side hoping it would make me forget about whatever land lay afar. I distracted myself by drinking, drugging, staying in unhealthy relationships—basically anything to bury my own discontent.
Miraculously however our curiosity never completely quells, the light never burns out. Though my desires became suffocated and my dreams were on life support, there was still a breath. I finally woke up and learned that the elusive someday was never going to come. If I wanted anything to change, I would have to do it on my own and face my guard.
This is how:
You jump on the crossing guard's back, thank him for his protection all these years, and then step up onto his shoulders and leapfrog onto the street and run like hell. The farther you get, the smaller he will become. The softer his voice.
You might hear him every now and again, in desperate times, calling for you to come back to the safe side. Telling you that you are in danger. You may even listen to him and become so scared of the unknown that you run back to him. Rest assured, he will welcome you with open arms. He is always there waiting for us like a loyal friend, a warm blanket we can curl up into and hide from the world. He will amp up the reasons you need to stay with him and never step foot in that direction ever again. He will pat your head and say, I told you so, you cannot survive over there.
Don't listen to him.
Thank him from afar.
And keep on running.
Thank you for reading. If you made it this far, there is a reason you are so interested in this topic. I want to share my appreciation with a $5.00 coupon code for my 5-day self-love practice starting February 1st! Sign up here with coupon code: fiveoff
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Learned helplessness is a term developed by psychologist Martin Seligman who tested dogs' responses to random shocks. Even when the barrier was removed and the dogs were able to escape, they didn't even try because they had lost all perceived control. They passively accepted any shocks the experimenters chose to administer. They lost hope. (This experiment has greatly contributed to the field of psychology in the etiology and treatment of depression. Go figure.)