A year ago, if someone asked me to identify my self-limiting fear, I would have been pressed to provide a definite answer. Clearly, a tell-tale sign that I was wedged in my comfort zone and didn’t-have much to be afraid of. But all kidding aside, can anyone else relate to this? I believe the greatest challenge to discovering greater potential in ourselves is not sensing a need for change or
knowing where to begin.
I would not have been able to pinpoint my fears/limitation because I wasn’t actively pursuing anything with a risk failure, yet I was experiencing heightened discontent and emotional tension in various aspects of my life. My personal development journey began with a desire to experience greater inner peace in these interactions, which revealed a deeper insight that the only opportunity to change our lives in any capacity begins with changing our self-awareness in each moment.
Get a grip of your feelings.
It’s easy to be blind sighted with the ‘overhaul’ and maximum impact approach to change and in the past, I was also guilty of always attempting to start big when it came to initiating personal change. This is an outlook that idealizes the outcome or results of our endeavors and often minimizes the significance of the process it takes to accomplish them. For example, how many of us want to lose weight but resent enduring the commitment and discipline of getting fit or wish to attain greater financial stability but may not want to assume greater responsibility for professional development.
Ultimately what makes the process of attaining any goal so undesirable is how we “feel” when we encounter set backs, therefore I believe the first step to initiating any personal change is getting clear with your emotions.
Our emotional energy is our motivational fuel, if we cannot manage our discontent then we will crash and burn every time but if we learn how to override our default discontented reactions then life can be smoother sailing. Our temptation to grab the cookie instead of an apple during our diet becomes stronger during emotional instability. We are more likely to give up on a ‘presumed’ difficult task due to feeling discouraged and our ability to communicate effectively in our relationships depends on how well we manage our own feelings.
You may not feel a pressing drive to initiate any tangible change in your life right now, but if you experience frequent discontent with others or yourself then I encourage you to begin with understanding and altering your reactions to those moments because those sentiments are synonymous with your subconscious fears and limitations. When we stop reacting from our discontent, we begin allowing ourselves to “feel” the gravity of our emotions instead of escaping their discomfort and vulnerability. Feeling the depth our anger, sadness,
resentment, jealousy, etc, offers us self-awareness and reveals the self-limiting expectations that diminish our fulfillment.
Everything is connected: start with the small stuff.
Naturally, the circumstances, which carry greater stakes for rewards and losses usually consume our emotional attention but neglecting the minor episodes of discontent arguably prevents us from identifying and overcoming our limitations before it’s too late. The unmet expectations within all our “unhappy” emotions are the same, therefore “Discontent is discontent”, granted our motivation to manage our frustrations diminishes when others are deemed as provoking our frustrations.
However, mindfulness has taught me the prospect of successfully overcoming our larger scale life challenges is determined by the willingness to “intentionally” resolve smaller incidents conscientiously. That is, your coworker’s rude comment and performing poorly at a highly coveted job interview are upsetting for the same reason of not being validated, therefore your reaction to the “trivial” disappointment subconsciously reinforces the expectation that predicts your response to more “important” issue.
If we can’t manage our disappointment during smaller incidents, we are less likely to resolve the larger disappointment with grace and embrace the opportunity for learning and growth.
Rather if we routinely condition ourselves to react to everyday discontent with actions that reinforce our need for validation, perfection, control or certainty then we will adopt the same approach in broader areas of our lives and make choices within our emotional comfort zone that do not support expanding our potential. So, in reality, the best occasions to begin managing our emotions are during the small and seemingly insignificant incidents where our ego is the only thing that’s at stake. Doing so enhances our ability to gracefully overcome the “important “obstacles.
The difficulty with managing the emotional distress that follows unpredictable life outcomes is the greatest source of unhappiness for many of us.
So I assure you that your child’s annoyance, a friend’s obnoxiousness, the vexing content on social media are all prime opportunities to practice mindfully riding the little waves in the peaceful manner that will enable you to ride the bigger waves with grace. Because our resistance to the larger waves of life keeps us living below our potential and desired abundance.
Letting go reveals our potential.
When we opt to respond from love instead of reacting from discontent, we unknowingly overcome the expectations, which were our subconscious limitations and begin taking ownership of our happiness. When I began intentionally choosing not to react from any discontented emotions and consciously release negative thoughts as it arose, I had no clue that it would lead to becoming more fearless, confident and connected to my life’s purpose.
Yet every time I responded differently to my child’s sluggishness, I released the need for control or did not resort a friend’s needless bragging I detached from the need for validation.
Gradually, I became more willing to embrace opportunities that did not offer as much control or those where I potentially would not perform perfectly. But more importantly I treated myself more compassionately and patiently under these circumstances than I previously would have, and subsequently became less intimated by these incidents.
Detaching from our expectations opens us up to possibilities that we are unaware of when those expectations define our happiness. I’ve always enjoyed writing and deciphering philosophy but I would have been unlikely to create a blog when I was more motivated by perfection, validation, and control.
Because I currently write in most inconvenient and imperfect conditions, which would have been a source of repeated complaint in the past but doesn’t pose a concern at all now. Many of the tasks that you detest or are intimidated by are inherently limiting your ability to fulfill your broader life goals in the magnitude that you are capable of simply because of how you feel in those situations. Changing how you feel under these currently unfavorable conditions could dramatically alter your life but I believe that we simply cannot tackle these tasks in isolation without addressing the expectation embedded in our discontent.
More so, the willingness and ability to take favorable ‘positive’ action when circumstances are disappointing is an important aspect of passion.
Thus positively shifting our emotional energy during routine interactions is the consistent practice that some of us require cultivating a greater sense of passion, whereby creating positive lifestyle change and growth becomes more intuitive and inspired when have nurtured the passion necessary to motivate our efforts.
We become overwhelmed trying to decipher our purpose and the bigger picture for our future but I believe that our task is to become the best versions of ourselves emotionally so that can continuously and fearlessly take the smaller “next steps” that support our growth.
We don’t always have to wait for rock bottom moments in order to initiate positive change because if there are consistent and recurring episodes of discontent in our lives then there is tremendous room for greater fulfillment if examine these sentiments as they arise.
We are the only common the denominator in our lives and the only factor that we can control, therefore creating any lifestyle change begins with changing how we respond to every episode of disappointment. Whatever makes us unhappy becomes our limitation if we react to appease our discontent instead of stepping out of our emotional comfort zone.
If you can consistently change how you respond to the smallest experience of discontent, you are re-conditioning yourself to become unlimited by your emotions and subsequently will become open to possibilities that you once deemed unmanageable.