“We are men of action. Lies do not become us.” – The Man in Black
This quote from my favorite movie (The Princess Bride) popped in to my head today as I was listening to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way audiobook and thinking about a friend of mine.
Ms. Cameron talks about how we allow blocks to inhibit our progress. We may say we need or want to complete a task (I could use writing a blog post as a handy example) but we allow thoughts or limiting beliefs to get in our way (I need to respond to this email, check my social media account(s), nobody will read it anyway, etc….). Ms. Cameron encourages us that when we have items on our to-do lists that never get checked off, we need to ask ourselves two questions: What are we afraid of? and What do we gain if we don’t do this thing? By asking ourselves these questions, we can usually see that we are lying to ourselves, and when we lie to ourselves, we limit our progress by crippling our action.
I have a friend who hates his job. He knows he needs to leave but by the end of the day he’s too exhausted (too much bad stress will do that to a person) to exert any energy to look for another job. On the weekends he wants to relax and not even think about work. I’ve been in this situation before, so I understand this.
But as I was thinking about his situation in context of The Artist’s Way, I wondered how much of his inability to make a move is due to exhaustion, and how much of it is due to fear. Change is hard. There are a lot of things to be afraid of when we venture out into the great unknown. What if my next job is just as bad? I know what I’m doing here… what if I’m not an expert in my next job? What if I don’t like the people at my next job? What if my next job requires a longer commute? What if I can’t FIND a next job!? These are all valid concerns… or are they?
When I find myself stuck in a rut, I activate what I call the “TEA” principle: our Thoughts become our Emotions, which become our Actions.
If we are acting in a way that is out of alignment with what we say we want or need to do, examine the emotion behind it. Is it fear? Anxiety? Frustration? Next, examine why you feel that way. What are you thinking that is creating that feeling? Is it something like, “It took me too long to find this job. It will take me forever to find another job that I actually like.” Or, “I can’t do my job because nobody will give me the right information.” Or, “I keep telling my boss what needs to be done but he doesn’t listen to me! He’ll never change!”
Whatever you find yourself thinking, ask yourself one final question: Is that true? If you’re using absolute words like “forever” or “nobody” or “never,” you are most likely lying to yourself. And as wo/men of action, lies do not become us.
My encouragement to you is to step out of problem mode and into opportunity mode. To encourage yourself to try something different, ask yourself how this belief or thought has affected you. (Journaling is a great way to force yourself to slow down and think through situations like this.) Try to look at it from another angle. What would someone who thinks the opposite of you do in this situation? Be curious instead of judgmental. Ask open-ended questions. Find a mentor or coach to help you work through the issue. Once you break through your limiting beliefs, you will release the hold on your forward movement, and you once again will be a wo/man of action.