Dreams. Desires. Wishes.
What do all these have in common? Well, they are predisposed to remain just as their label states. Without active, forward-moving and positive intervention by the creator, they will live in the creator’s minds and in the ether leaving things as “I wish I could” instead of “I am...”.
And we are those creators – we have all sorts of aspirations. For many of us, the issue isn’t thinking up these amazing things to attain and achieve but is actually finding the courage to get the ball rolling in achieving them.
Why is this?
Why do we discredit ourselves so much – and so easily?
If there was an easy answer, by crikey I’d be a millionaire right now by selling:
"The Easy Answer"!
There are various reasons and usually, it is a combination of these either together or at different stages. Understanding some of them will be great in recognising why but it is better that we don’t define ourselves by them. Instead, we can leverage off this understanding to do something constructive and positive about it.
So here are some factors along with some things we can do to move on from that state:
1. The generation we grew up in
Generally speaking, the older we are the more chance we grew up in a household where males did certain things and females did certain things. Males behaved in different ways from females and all children were told to be on their best behaviour at all times – or else - and to be seen and not heard. We weren’t to bring shame to the family name or think too far outside of the square. So to push ourselves into that big scary unknown isn’t something we jump for joy at wanting to experience – and fairly understandable given what was our growing-up environment!
More recent generations appear to have ended up on the other side of the spectrum where we can be absolutely anything we want to be and that we have the support of our family and friends regardless of our, or their, gender. That there is no structure that we have to abide by and that “the world is your oyster”... whatever that means! Because it doesn’t really feel like we can do what we want when we want. We still feel trapped and stifled because we don’t know HOW to do it because the earlier generations are now our parents and they weren’t taught how to do it either!!
What can we do about it?
Educate ourselves. We don’t have to necessarily academically educate ourselves – although this would help with filling our courage bucket (feeling we know more about the theory of our aspirations). Those who are older could involve themselves in a younger generation’s world to immerse themselves in the younger people’s freedom view and vice versa a younger person could involve themselves in an older generation’s world in order to understand more about structure and pathways. This could be in a volunteer arena or perhaps creating a ‘generation free' zone in the house one evening a week where it isn’t parent vs child but household members together.
By bringing generations together, we can help each other in the perceived weaknesses we have and become stronger together as a team. This could be the older generation understanding what it is like to think outside of the box more and the younger generation understanding how a structure can help in creating a pathway.
2. The culture we are in or grew up in
Part of this sits in point 1 above but it also moves beyond the family culture. Traditions and beliefs can suppress certain opportunities in one culture and yet be expected in another. The obvious one is Western to Eastern culture but that is too broad in and of itself. One of the reasons for this is that with the current ease of travel and relocation (notwithstanding the Covid Pandemic) many people have relocated to other countries and will have brought their own cultures with them to integrate into their host country, muddying the waters that originally defined Eastern and Western culture. Also, certain countries will have more strict national laws than other countries that share the same continent. Again, tradition, as well as politics and religion, have a great influence on people having the courage to do things that would be considered exceptional or unusual.
What can we do about it?
Some of it, not a lot – in countries where there is strong resistance to freedom of expression or perhaps gender expectation roles, then compliance appears to be the only safe option. I certainly couldn’t say here that if you are in that predicament you should throw caution to the wind – that would be unethical, irresponsible and unprofessional of me to say so. Plus I’m not in that environment, you are. If you are feeling trapped in your current situation and you no longer wish to be where you are I can suggest that you seek help from charitable organisations that have no affinity or pressure from the current status of the country that they (and you) are in. At least you will have someone to talk with to create a safe space for you to consider your next steps.
For others, it may be a case of embracing more of your host country and helping to involve older generations (in a compassionate way) in the similarities but also the differences between the two cultures and what a merging of the two looks like. What is seen as a compromise on both sides that may work, then allows some confidence and support to develop.
And then there is the self-realisation that a culture you are familiar with does not need to define you nor do you have to abandon it in the pursuit of some self desires. There are many ways in society today where you can be respected for holding onto the elements of your culture that is important to you whilst also fulfilling your own personal and professional dreams and aspirations. If you feel you are in this space then perhaps you can reach out to find a mentor or support group that can help you with encouragement until you feel it in yourself?
3. Our environment
The family and supported dynamics with which we are accustomed also plays a part in our belief of being able to take active steps towards reaching our goals and dreams. If we feel we have had a positive foundational start in life then we are likely to feel more willing to test the waters of new prospects. Likewise, if we feel we have had little support and empathy with past events then we are less likely to consider “risking it”. Of course, those who felt they had positive aspects may feel there is an expectation and those who didn’t feel the support was there, will wish to prove the world wrong. But as a general rule, the former situation prevails.
And there are two ways that you can consider these situations (whichever end of the spectrum you feel you sit on): one is to see the negativity and restrictions that hold you back, paralyse you or the other is to consider your starting point and what one positive step can you make to address the balance better. You do have a choice – this is yours to utilise or give away but is yours. And this could be a key factor in moving from “I wish I could” to “I am...”
What can we do about it?
Firstly acknowledge where you are at and where you are in the scope of how your environment has been a factor in where you are sitting with respect to uncertainty to try things. Then accept responsibility for it. Until you accept responsibility for how you feel about it, you will not be able to move beyond because the alternative is that you are blaming something or someone else for where you are at and that cannot help you to move forward.
It is so important that you understand I said accept responsibility and not lay blame on yourself. There is no room for blame in the journey of encouragement and confidence. It is potentially hard to believe simply by reading this but once you accept responsibility for where you are at with this situation, positive and workable options seem to appear where before there seemed to be little viewpoint. But I understand if you don’t believe me – so again, try for yourself, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
There is an element of your genetics having an influence on your capacity to be able to step so far outside of your comfort zone. Don’t automatically jump to this conclusion, though many do! Those that do then also shut the door on ever having the courage to try something and this simply is not the case. A huge aspect here is the assumption that goes with it. If you have parents who were naturally very quiet and introverted then you may believe that you must be following the same concept. The same goes for parents who are very extroverted – as their child you may feel you must exert the same mannerisms. But this isn’t so, because you are your own person with your own traits and values. So be mindful of the genetics element for sure, just don’t see it as a major influencer – you are the only one who is.
What can we do about it?
Allow your brain to accept that you have the capability to step out of the zone more. Your current capacity simply means that’s your starting block to stretch a bit more. Start with much smaller tasks that allow your body and mind to understand that these little extensions outside of your norm did not result in you coming to harm or ridicule. For example, you may be introverted to the point that you would only do yoga at home with online classes. Stretching yourself may be that you find information about what needs to happen if you were to go to a physical class at your local gym. That’s the first stretch. Let that sit for a little, then the next stretch will be to book and go to a single session – just one. Experience that and then reassess where your capacity for enjoying that task now sits... I think you would be quite surprised, yet it still creates a profound courage and confidence boost. So that when you go to try bigger stretches later on, you can reflect on the good feeling this stretch gave you. That’s how you grow your confidence to become the “I am...” person.
5. Personal Disposition
A past event – if significant enough – can create such a shift in our personal psyche that we can create a new element of our persona that either previously wasn’t there or that we don’t know how it is that the situation affects us the way it does. This can create fear, uncertainty, lack of knowledge and lack of awareness and can really be crippling. Often such factors can result in phobias which bring with them a whole other raft of symptoms that can feel as though it is depleting our character even more.
What can we do about it?
You know what I’m going to say here – yep, acknowledge it. Understanding is not only powerful but the key to creating the starting point to leverage off of. You don’t have to compare your starting point with anyone else because there isn’t a gauge. This is your concern, your trauma, your crippling aspect and no one else’s. So if you’re feeling it’s off the scale, then it’s off the scale but you still have to acknowledge it so that you can start from that point. Seeing the ‘big monster’ for what it is can oftentimes half its power. From here, we can more realistically look at – rather than force – what is a possibility in feeling a little less overwhelmed. Once again, there is no book that says those steps must be a metre in length! They are as big or as small as you feel comfortable with. The important thing here is that it is one foot in front of the other.
Depending on your situation, self-help can be effective enough. Others may need some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help shift the language that is rattling in your head to a more productive and helpful one. The key thing here though is whether by yourself or externally, you are getting some help – now that IS a great positive step.
This by no means is an exhaustive list. But hopefully, it gives you some insight into understanding some of the aspects behind why we may feel “I wish I could...” instead of “I am...”. No matter what your circumstances, dreams or what has got you to be where you are today is, you always have the choice and capability to do something – anything – about turning those wishful thoughts into real life achievable challenges.
I help you to look through a different lens, one that looks far more appetising than the one you are probably currently looking through (if you are looking through one at all!). You have your own manual but sometimes it can be hard to find or hard to understand. It is perfectly ok to ask for some help in understanding your own manual. And this is what I do, so if you feel inspired but still scared after reading this, then reach out to me – perhaps your next “out of your comfort zone” stretch is touching base with me to talk about what I can do for you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know that this article resonated with you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
© YMR Coaching & Development
Yvonne has qualifications in Coaching, Positive Psychology, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and believes in continual personal development. She is currently based in the UK and also has life and work experience in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. She helps with mindset wellbeing and change which includes significant relocations. She is contactable for client availability, public speaking events and media enquiries here: https://www.ymrcoaching.com/helpful-links