Lasting Change - Removing
The Roadblocks From
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The route to lasting change and getting what
you really want in life is through a sustained vision of the future. When you
assemble a detailed vision of the future you want, and visit it regularly, it
becomes an ongoing source of motivation to get there.
The biggest obstacle that people face in
getting what they want in life is their failure to define what it is they
really want. The next biggest hurdles are your own fears and doubts. Having a
clear vision of a wonderful future is absolutely necessary -- but it typically
stirs up a set of emotional roadblocks. These come at us in the form of fears
both of failing and of succeeding, and in doubts about our own worthiness for
The fears and doubts make their presence
felt in negative emotions. We fear that we can't really get what we
want, that we will fail at losing weight because it has proved too difficult in
the past, or that we'll never figure out how to get where we want to go.
The fears and doubts cluster around a few
kinds of issues. All of them are false conclusions from past experiences that
limit our future. And all are hooked to beliefs about ourselves -- that we
don't deserve love and success and a wonderful future, that we are not good
enough, that we do not have the power to create the solutions to our problems
-- or beliefs about the nature of the world -- that life really requires
struggling and even suffering.
Society, our parents, our religions and
even psychology and our movies teach us that life is a struggle. As long as
that is what we believe then that is what we will get, because we are powerful
enough to create it. As Henry Ford said, Whether you believe you can or
believe you can't, you are right.
Fears and doubts are so unpleasant that
most people go to considerable lengths to cover them up or banish them. We use
alcohol, cigarettes, food, drugs, overwork and even positive thinking to
distract ourselves from feeling them, observes Ti Caine, hypnotherapist and
life coach from Sherman Oaks, California.
But that is like calling your smoke alarm
negative and attacking it with a baseball bat. Their purpose is to
warn us that there are specific underlying beliefs that are endangering us,
holding us back. Instead of squelching the smoke alarm we need to fix the
It's imperative to look at the
roadblocks as a friend, says Caine. If you follow them to the core
belief below the surface and then change that belief, your whole life can open
Caine goes so far as to say that all our
emotions are positive, even sadness and fear. They all serve a positive
purpose. They exist to help us move forward in life, he says.
They are your very best friends, trying to call your attention to what is
holding you back.
Attacking the smoke alarm is the simple
fix, and like all simple fixes it never works. Dealing with the underlying
beliefs is honoring life's complexity; the irony is that if you work with the
complexity life can actually get easier.
The beliefs that limit people are different
for everyone: I am afraid that I will never really get the love I
want. I can't get what I want because I am not powerful
enough. But they all boil down to one bottom line: there's something
wrong with me. Here is how to make your life more successful right now:
- Imagine, as clearly as you can,
your ideal future.
- Feel the excitement, but pay
attention to the doubts and fears that arise. Write them down.
- Look under the fears and doubts to
find the beliefs they are stemming from. Write those beliefs down.
- Once you have identified the core
belief that is sabotaging success, write out a new set of beliefs that you want
to live by. Connect with the basic human truth that you are a valuable person,
that you deserve love and success, that you are powerful enough to create your
- Then connect with the feelings
those new beliefs generate: that success feels great, that love feels terrific,
and that there is lots of it out there.
- Visualize a future that
incorporates those new beliefs. You don't do it just once. You keep on doing
it. That will continually motivate you to go through the process of peeling
back the curtains on your core self until you tackle every belief that is
holding you back.
As you get closer to the core you
tap the source of all change and success -- self-love and forgiveness for past
failures. We'll talk more about them in the next issue of Psyched for
Hara Estroff Marano is
Editor-At-Large of Psychology Today magazine and Editor-In-Chief of
Psychology Today's Blues Buster, a newsletter about depression. An
award-winning writer on human behavior, Haras articles have appeared in
publications including the New York Times, Smithsonian, Family
Circle and The Ladies Home Journal. She lives in New York City.