Last time we were talking about how you have to get uncomfortable to achieve your dreams. Remember the concept of growing pains? It’s a physical phenomenon, yes, but when it comes to the non-physical, it is not just a metaphor. It’s an accurate description of what you must go through to accomplish anything important in your life.
Today, we’re going to examine the specific types of discomfort that you might expect.
First, let’s look at your dream. What is it you want to achieve? What is something that would be a true game-changer for you?
What are some of the actions that you need to take to get there? What must you be feeling in order to engage in those actions? How do you need to be feeling to take those actions? What must you be thinking in order to feel that way?
The answers to the above questions will give you a powerful roadmap toward your dreams. It defines who you will need to become to achieve what you are after. The new you will be thinking in an entirely different way, believing different things about yourself.
But there will be obstacles. Many in the form of your own thoughts.
Last time, we talked about the lizard. The lizard is what I call the oldest part of your brain, the reptilian brain. Now, first and foremost, you need to understand that your lizard loves you.
It’s just that it’s kind of like an overprotective mother. She doesn’t just dress you up like a mummy to face the winter cold, she uses psychological warfare to dissuade you from your dreams.
The lizard’s job is to maintain homeostasis so that you survive. By definition, any change is a threat. The lizard tries to intimidate you into NOT changing. So, it’s the lizard that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The lizard does this by telling you:
- You don’t know what to do/how to do it
- That you can’t do it, you’re bound to fail
- If you still insist on doing it, then you must do it perfectly
- Other people will abandon you if you do it.
Let’s look at each discomfort in turn:
1. Not knowing how/what to do
There’s nothing that will stop you in your tracks faster than that feeling of not knowing what to do. It’s paralyzing. This is the lizard at work. It knows that when it makes a logical argument, it’s harder for you to resist. So, one of the things it will tell you is that you don’t know what to do or how to do it. Or even: you don’t know what you are doing.
The Frozen Client
I have a client who was absolutely paralyzed by not knowing. She would answer “I don’t know” to almost every question. I tried to get stealthy with her. “Pretend you do know,” I would tell her. Nothing seemed to work.
Her lizard had been dominant so long that it had convinced her she had no wisdom on the topic. She wasn’t just numb, she was frozen. Our job over the next several sessions was to get her thawed out so that she could get in tune with what she wanted. She had bought into the idea that she didn’t know. She needed to rekindle the belief in her own internal guidance system.
Now, recall, the lizard does this because it doesn’t want you to expend your energy, or put yourself in any harm’s way, by pursuing your ambitious dreams. It may be true that you need to learn some things in order to achieve your goal. But the lizard will tell you lies and make you think that you need some ridiculous amount of information to prepare for your pursuit.
It will tell that you need to be a master of the topic. One more training, it will insist. Read another book. If you listen to the lizard, you’ll find yourself stuck at the starting line, endlessly preparing for the journey.
If you love reading blogs, dear reader, then you may be particularly suspectible to this reptilian tactic. You may be a Seeker archetype. Check out my blog on that topic for more help.
2. Not believing in ourselves
If your dream is big enough, you will be a different person by the time you’ve achieved it. All of the habits inconsistent with that goal will have fallen away. Maybe you’ll have a new sleep schedule, a bad habit that was slowing you down gets dropped, or you find yourself more in shape. To be this new version of yourself, you’ll have to believe that you ARE this new version.
You are the person who wakes up earlier, who doesn’t eat ice cream, etc. You will be in the habit of thinking and feeling what the person who achieves your dream thinks and feels. Those thoughts and feelings will lead unfailingly to the behavior that will deliver your dream to you.
The fact that you don’t already have your goal is what tells us that you are not already believing that you are that person. You need new beliefs.
The lizard, of course, won’t want you to. It thinks you will die. That sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t.
Be the Diamond
I have one client who, like many of us, felt he was never good enough. After he identified the dream he wanted to work toward, I helped him to identify who he would need to become.
He decided to think of this new version of himself as “the diamond”. “I am the diamond” became a bit of a mantra for him. Once he had solidified this persona, our work was clear — we had to navigate through everything that was inconsistent with this belief that he was the diamond.
It was like Michaelangelo said about his sculpture of David. “I just cut away everything that wasn’t David.” This was the discomfort that my client needed to experience: shedding away everything that wasn’t the diamond.
Perfectionism is another story the lizard tells us that slows us down. It has nothing to do with being perfect. In reality, it’s just the lizard giving you some impossible standard to meet. You’re guaranteed to fail, and when you find your work isn’t good enough, you will quit. That’s the lizard’s agenda. Remember, it only wants to preserve the status quo.
Sometimes this will manifest as just feeling stuck. You get stuck in molasses at some point in your path to goal achievement. This can be a combination of thinking what you’re doing isn’t good enough and that you don’t know what you are doing or what to do next. Again, this has the lizard’s fingerprints all over it. Wait—I’m not sure that lizards even have fingers.
It’s important to remember, the stuff the lizard comes up with is just bullshit. It has no basis in reality. It’s fake news. And the more you buy into it, the more the lizard will throw at you.
4. What other people will think
You know who, besides the lizard, might not like what you’re doing?
Often it’s those closest to us. Just like the lizard, they love you and they don’t want to see you hurt. Why not stay in the job that you know? Isn’t the devil you know always better? Don’t make that move, they will say.
The sad truth is that many of those opinions will come because you changing disrupts other peoples’ comfort zone.
Their lizard is telling them you shouldn’t downsize, take that promotion, study abroad for a year. Why? Because it makes them uncomfortable. They can sense that you will become a different person, and they’re not sure they’ll like that person, or more precisely their lizard isn’t sure.
Next time, we will do a deep dive into each of these four discomforts from the perspective of what you can do about it. For now, just become aware of how your lizard operates. What fake news is the lizard telling you?
I’d love it if you shared in the comments the b.s. excuses that your lizard likes to throw at you.
Catch ya next time.
I’m Dr. Kira Swanson and I’m a Life Coach for people who dread Monday. I work with senior leaders who feel unfulfilled in their work. Together, we tune into what they really want, find new perspectives, and summon the courage to take bold action. Whether it’s striking out on their own, landing in a new job, or thriving right where they are, I help my clients to Love Monday.
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