What Keeps Us From Pursuing Our Dreams?
What is that thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?
Each of us, because we are human, have desires and dreams. Certain dreams stay with us for decades because they are that important to us. We harbor such dreams without ever taking action to make them become reality.
Have you ever really pondered why you haven’t taken steps to make your dream come true? What is it that has been holding you back? And more importantly: Is what’s holding you back overcome-able? In other words, is there a way to identify and put a face on what is holding you back? If we don’t know who or what our enemies are and where they hide, we can’t vanquish them and we can’t prevent them from using their powers over us.
An unrealized dream can sit at the bottom of your heart, causing a nagging sense of loss, regret and pain. Why do we NOT do the things we care most about doing?
Fear is certainly at the top of the list. Our ever faithful old nemeses – Fear of Failure and its twin Fear of Success are at work. Habit plays a part too. There’s a fourth force at work that supplies and amplifies the powers of all three: Fear of Failure, Fear of Success and Habit. For now we’ll call it: “That Which Must Not Be Named”.
Fear of Failure
We fear failing because we don’t want to be seen as failing at anything because it’s embarrassing! Mostly, I think we fear failing because we don’t want to disappoint ourselves. Success begets success. So we believe failure begets failure. We fear that if we fail at the one thing in the world we most want to succeed at, then we are doomed to fail at everything else that is less important too. And then we will be a miserable, sad and disappointed human being for the rest of our lives. With this kind of thinking, we unwittingly allow Fear of Failure to paralyze us.
Fear of Success
Fear of Success is just as forbidding. We fear success because success could cause changes in our life. If we succeed, all kinds of things could flow from that. We might make a lot of money. We might be envied by our friends. We might lose our friends because of their envy or because we outgrow them. We might have to move because we need a bigger house or need to live in a different part of the country.
If we meet with success, we might have to take even more risks like renting an expensive warehouse, investing in expensive equipment or coming out of our shell to interact with people in new ways. We might have to travel. We might have to meet lots of new people some of whom we cannot even imagine being in our circle of friends and acquaintances much less our competitor or business partner. The possibility of success is scary because we fear we may not like the changes that success may bring.
Habits are what help keep our daily lives on track. We get up at the same time, eat meals at the same time, do our taxes, brush our teeth and a myriad of other activities that we do routinely almost without thinking about them. We know we all have bad habits too.
Probably the most damaging bad habits we have are in our thinking. Our habitual thoughts about our own abilities every day feed Fear of Failure, Fear of Success and That Which Must Not Be Named.
That Which Must Not Be Named
Wildly more powerful than Fear of Failure, Fear of Success or Habit is “That Which Must Not Be Named”. The pull of That Which Must Not Be Named is so strong, I liken it to the pull of gravity. It is a force, like gravity, that works constantly to keep us in place. It is what keeps us in our comfort zones longer than we would like.
That Which Must Not Be Named keeps us going to the same job every day for years even though we don’t want to be there. It keeps us making plans with the same friends who may not be good for us because they bring us down or don’t support us. That Which Must Not Be Named is not our friend. If we ever hope to do the thing we’ve always wanted to do but never have, we must find a way to vanquish That Which Must Not Be Named.
What is “That Which Must Not Be Named?” Inertia. Inertia is the force that keeps a person or thing from moving or changing unless acted upon by an outside force.
If we do nothing to break the bonds of inertia, nothing changes and we stay in the same place with the same friends, the same job and same day to day experiences. Nothing new happens.
Inertia can fool us. We say to ourselves “Look at me! I’m busy all the time! I don’t have time to do anything else!” We believe our busy-ness proves we are actively working toward our dreams. But are we really? Or are we just on a treadmill in the land of Inertia?
Our Comfort Zone
No one likes change all that much and many stridently avoid it. Our comfort zone is where we prefer to live all the time in comfort. When we are comfortable and everything is familiar, known, tried and true and works for us to a certain extent, why would we want to upset the apple cart? That would just be silly, right?
Fear of Failure, Fear of Success, Habit and That Which Must Not Be Named all conspire to keep us in Our Comfort Zone. For many of us, the fear of change and the pain of having to deal with the fallout from change seems too overwhelming to be comfortable. It is so much easier (due to inertia) to continue back and forth along the same old worn path like the deep rut of a horse’s path back to the barn. Why risk taking off willy-nilly into the woods where there are no paths?
How Ignoring These Nemeses Increases Their Power
If the pull of the dream you desire to make a reality has any strength at all, now might be the time to call out these four demon nemeses. When you identify, name and look at something head on, you can confront and vanquish it. If, however, you allow demons like Fear of Failure, Fear of Success, Habit and That Which Must Not Be Named to continue to work their dark magic on you from the shadows, their power over you continually strengthens. Simultaneously, without routinely exercising your mental muscles to vanquish them, your power over them weakens over time.
Just because you choose not to acknowledge the presence of these forces in your life does not mean they are not present and actively conspiring against you and your fondest dreams for your life.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
No one is suggesting that you need to make any changes in your life at all. Only if you have dreams you can’t ignore should you even be thinking about taking on the challenge of vanquishing the demon forces that are keeping you from it. And even so, you may be so comfortable in your life, and by comparison your dream may be so ephemeral and insubstantial, you may not wish to rise to the challenge to attempt to achieve it. There is no external judgment here. Only you know your own heart and what is right for you.
There are only two questions to ask yourself.
- How vital is your dream to your happiness?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to empower it?
Do you have a dream that is pulling on your heart? What would it take for you to begin to work toward making your dream a reality? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.