Do you have big dreams for your life?
Do you imagine a future in which you set healthy boundaries, don’t take on other people’s emotions, do what you want to do, not what you feel obligated to do to keep others happy?
Do you dream of quitting your job, starting your own business, going to grad school, buying a house?
One of the greatest dream smushers I hear from my clients every day is this, “But I haven’t done it before.”
That one little phrase can keep you from taking action to create what you most desire.
And I’ve got some great remedies for you today.
In the last blog we talked about goals and New Year’s resolutions and how vital it is in setting them to start with your beliefs and cultivating the belief that you, yes you, are worthy of the outcome or goal that you want, and that you believe that it is possible for you to achieve it.
We talked about how common it is, particularly for our perfectionist brains to create these grandiose schemes for our lives that are often wildly unattainable.
And then we beat ourselves up for not being superhuman and getting four bajillion things done in an hour.
So the work is to break it all down into tiny little steps and to practice believing that you can accomplish each of those small steps towards what you want for your life.
Today, I want to talk about a common dream killer I see in my clients. A fear-based thought that keeps them from going for it, whatever it is. And that thought is, “I’ve never done it before.”
Whether we’re talking about setting boundaries, starting a business, leaving your partner, asking someone on a date, telling your boss you need a raise, getting super vulnerable with someone new, telling your mom you just aren’t available for her to criticize you or your body anymore, there are a thousand times when your brain may tell you, “I don’t know how because I’ve never done it before,” or, “Well, I’m not the kind of person who’s good at doing those kinds of things,” or, “Well, I’ve always done it this way,” or, “This is how my family has always communicated. Through passive aggression and jabs at each other’s tender underbellies and it’s just how we do.”
And for my coaches and entrepreneurs listening, because I know a lot of you listen in, your brain may be telling you this around all the things you need to get done to start your business or take it to the next level. I don’t know how to make a website, file my LLC papers, make a logo, pick a niche, do a webinar, on and on.
And in my life, it sounded like, “I don’t know how to not be defensive,” and, “I don’t know how to set a boundary without guilt,” and, “I don’t know how to stop judging and start accepting people for who they are. I mean, I’m Argentine. I’m a judgment machine.”
What’s hiding in all of those statements is the story that whatever it is you want to do is simply not doable because you haven’t done it before.
And my beauty, that is what we lovingly call a thought error.
One that’s perfectly understandable, my nerds, because our nervous system and our lizard brain see change as a scary thing indeed because science.
And because your body loves you, you may go into some sympathetic activation energy, that fight or flight energy around making change, which can sound like the anxious, “But I’ve never done that before.”
Or if you’re overwhelmed after trying and trying and trying to make change and not seeing it come to life, you might go into some dorsal vagal energy, which is that immobilization or freeze response, which can sound like, “Well, I’ve never done that before.” That Eeyore energy.
Just trying to change a thought without attending to your nervous system just doesn’t work.
The point there is we try to make change and our bodies might go into a little bit of that loving freakout energy, that I can’t do it, or it might go into the immobilized energy of the I can’t do it.
So why do these responses get provoked? Well, because science.
But seriously, if in your brain you think that failure is a bad thing and you’ve tried to make change a thousand times before or tried to meet a goal a dozen times before, and you haven’t gotten the outcome you wanted, then you’re likely to label that experience a failure.
And most of us get stuck in lousy math that says my actions not equaling success equals I’m a failure.
And that equation just sucks. But it’s equating your actions and your values or goodness as a human with you succeeding.
And it’s negating the most amazing part of failure, which is that it’s always, always, always, always an opportunity for learning.
How can you know if you like a new kind of pastry if you don’t go try it and find out? Buying and tasting that new lemonade that puffed perfectly, proven delight? All baking words, courtesy of The Great British Bakeoff. And seeing if it succeeds or fails to please your palate is the only way I know.
And tasting it and being like, ew, isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you’re terrible at picking pastry.
It doesn’t mean you are a failure.
It’s just more information about what does and doesn’t work for you.
And while it may sound like I’ve gone off on one of my tangents, I promise I haven’t.
When we’re talking about things that hit close to home and touch on a tenderness, sometimes it’s really helpful, again because science, to use an example that does not provoke an emotional response to help us understand a concept that does touch close to home.
And that concept here is that failure is awesome and is a way to learn about pastry, about life.
It’s not a bad thing. And then we can apply that understanding, this silly-sounding example of trying a pastry and being like, ew, I didn’t like it, or yum, we can apply it to things that may activate or shift our nervous system response.
Things like asking someone on a date and getting rejected, setting a boundary and having it not be honored, or taking a leap in our career and not getting what we wanted.
So all of those things are examples of you trying, you experiencing yourself as a person who has your own back, goes out there, tries to get what they want, and you get it or you don’t.
And so you can label that as a failure and make it mean something bad about you, but why would you do that, my beauty?
Instead, I’ll invite you to say, “It was a thing I had never tried. I tried it and this is the outcome I got. It’s not the one I wanted so it’s a failure in the best sense of the word because it means I tried.”
Here’s the thing; when you focus your mind, body, and spirit on labeling the things that maybe never even occurred to you to do as being undoable because you haven’t done them before, then you’re blocking the flow of energy and possibility in your body before it’s even had a chance to get started.
You’re cutting your future off at the knees by focusing on the past and what you maybe haven’t even tried to do yet.
And your nerdy brain that loves evidence is telling you you have so much evidence that this won’t work and that doom is neigh, just because you’ve never attempted it.
And that is the dream killer, my darling.
It squashes all hope of change and growth and limits you in such unnecessary ways.
We rewrite the neural grooves in our minds when we experience ourselves doing something new and doing it with peace and self-love and dedication to our own growth.
There have been so many times I felt that gut-punch of fear about trying something new and when I met that feat with love and tenderness, when I acknowledge and give love to my inner children and recognize that most often it’s them clinging to the fear, then I can show up as my most loving adult, as my own most amazing parent with a managed adult mind, and that is key, to let my inner children know that fear is welcome here.
Fear is honored and respected and given tenderness.
And my adult self is going to do that scary thing anyway.
Like quitting my primary care job to start my functional medicine private practice, and then leaving that to become a life coach.
Because while it was all scary because I hadn’t done it before, I also left room for it to be exhilarating, exciting, challenging, and a gift to my future self.
To follow my own dreams and to create the life I want because to go all former hospice nurse on it, life is too short.
And also way too long to not live a life you love.
So I’ll invite you to pause and to see where your brain is telling you that you don’t know how to do something, you’re too scared to do something, something is undoable, not possible in your life because you’ve never done it before.
And that that is a reason to not even try, to not even begin to believe it’s possible for you, a reason to not see what remarkable, amazing new things you could do that you’ve just never done before.
So let’s do what we do, my love, and talk remedies.
First and as always, I’ll invite you to raise your awareness, to ask yourself where you’re putting this brick wall of “I’ve never done that before” between you and something you want in your life.
You may not be saying those exact words out loud, but are you carrying that energy inside yourself?
That this is too scary, it’s too new, I’ve never set a healthy boundary before, I’ve never started my own business, I’ve never broken up with someone, I’ve never tried to meditate daily, whatever it may be.
Step two, get grounded in your body.
And if that doesn’t work for you or isn’t available, which is totally normal and okay, then orient yourself in the space where you are.
And if you want support around orienting and grounding, which are both wonderful nervous system supports, you can download guided meditations, guided exercises for free on my webpage, victoriaalbina.com, right there on the homepage for you because this is important.
Getting grounded in our bodies is vital when we’re looking to change our chronic habitual thoughts and feelings.
And if that’s not available, orienting to the space and orienting to yourself, beautiful places to start.
Next, practice embracing failure.
When you start to think of failure as a sign that you’ve tried, that you’ve put yourself out there, that you did the thing and learned from it, then the word failure loses its sting.
Like a snarling but toothless Rottweiler. It’s just not that scary anymore.
These days, and yes of course, this took some practice, I celebrate failure or things not going as planned or hoped for.
I put them in my victories journal.
I’m like, well, that webinar was a flaw, or turns out no one likes that kind of Instagram post, or well, she’s not able to hold space in a loving way for my deep vulnerability.
Learn something there about what feels safe in this moment to share with her, for example.
And finally, the most important tool I’ll share today is this; the invitation to reframe to yet.
So when you hear your brain saying, “Well, it’s scary because I haven’t done it before,” or, “I don’t know if I can meditate, I’ve never successfully done it,” I’ll invite you to remind your brain that you just haven’t done it yet.
In so doing, you give your brain this tool, this new framework and understanding of whatever it is that you want to do is what it actually is, just something you haven’t done yet.
And by reminding your brain that it’s not scary because it’s new, it’s just new, you don’t have to add that adjective to it.
It’s just new and that’s a fact.
You can then use a primary tool of our coaching work, one of the central tenants of thought work, you can get neutral about it, to strip away all your habitual stories, to see that you don’t have to keep putting all those adjectives on it that make it scary or too big or too risky because you literally have no idea where this next step will take you.
And after all, it’s just something you haven’t done yet.
You don’t actually know how you’ll feel when you do it because you haven’t done it yet.
So you get to decide now, ahead of time, by using your amazing brain and your prefrontal cortex to decide how you want to feel by choosing the story you’ll tell about it. And I am choosing I haven’t done it yet.
So as we head into the New Year and your brain starts to plot and plan what the next 12 months will bring, I want to invite you to not write anything off because you haven’t done it yet. But rather, to pause and remind yourself, whatever it may be that will move your life forward with intention and love, to help you move out of codependent, perfectionist, and people-pleasing thought habits, to finally begin to put you and your dreams first in a real way are just things you haven’t done yet.
Wishing you all a beautiful New Year, lots of self-love and care as we head into 2021.
Remember, you are safe, you are held, you are loved.
And when one of us heals, we help heal the world.
Be well, my beauty. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thank you for taking the time to read Feminist Wellness. I’m excited to be here and to help you take back your health!
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