My answer used to be a ready no anytime I was challenged to do something outside of my comfort zone. I had learned fear early. I never had to phone a friend, consult a mentor or think about it.
It was always a no. It was as if I had made a pact with myself never to grow, change or become more than I was. The shift didn’t come easy. Not without a fight. The fight to believe in myself and overcome my mental blocks.
“A mental block can be described as a psychological obstacle that prevents one from performing a particular skill.”
The problem with being inflexible about trying new things isn’t always fear in itself. At the root of it is self-doubt; that lingering feeling that you’re just not good enough for whatever it is you’re supposed to accomplish. Maybe someone else could succeed at it, but you, not really.
This feeling, when internalized long enough, leads to learned helplessness. Psychologists define learned helplessness as “a psychological condition in which a human being (or an animal) has learned to act or behave helpless in a particular situation, even when it has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance.”
How sad is that? Think about it. Every time I refused to follow my dreams, or take action on something I knew should do, I simply relinquished my power. I laid there pitying myself, feeling as though I needed something or someone outside of myself to release me into the exciting and happy life I sought.
While I am still a work in progress, over the years, I have learned to break my mental blocks and see the world outside of my self-imposed limitations. Below are three ways you can, too.
1. Accept that you have the power to change things.
It’s a simple but empowering concept. Whatever your life looks like right now, you have the ability to change it. It’s all up to you.
2. Start small.
I must warn that you will be tempted to overcomplicate the simple idea that you actually can change your life.
You don’t need to face your biggest fears in a day or slay your giants in one fell swoop.
Growing up, I had few experiences outside of normal, everyday life at home and school. I didn’t ride bikes, learn to swim or do many of the things children get to do. Unbeknownst to me, that became a pattern I carried into my adult years. I didn’t seek out experiences or try to go out of my way to do new things. But when I decided that I could indeed live life on my own terms and that I had agency in the way my days were spent, I started to take small steps to enrich my life. You can, too.
3. Find your tribe.
It could be one person, or ten. There is power and increased probability of accomplishment in doing life with others. If you need to be more disciplined with your health, find other people who’re looking to do the same. If you’re looking to travel more, connect with people who know their way around new places. Call it having an accountability partner, or a divine happenstance that brings you into connection with someone who’s going where you’re going. However you see it, it’s a blessing that worth its weight in gold.
Recently, I started to serve in the media department at my church. I have been learning photography and fulfilling a dream I never knew I could pursue. This experience has opened my eyes to the power I have in making my life what I really want it to be.
What goal would you like to accomplish? What exciting experiences have you denied yourself due to mental blocks and limiting beliefs? What changes are you making or looking to make in your life? I’d love to hear your story. Whatever it is, rest assured that you can do it!
Go do great things!