“I want a better job.”
“I want to follow my passion.”
“I wish I could stop being so perfectionist.”
“I have trouble making decisions.”
“I feel discouraged before I even begin. If only I could push past this!”
These are the thoughts that have (and still do) run through my head, weaving themselves under and into the framework of my life. In response, I tried doing all the surface work. I tried job searching, forcing myself to write my novels, forcing myself to make decisions, setting up charts and timetables and lists and plans.
Plans I rarely followed.
Why? Because the blockage wasn’t coming from the surface—it was coming from deep inside. I’d always thought if there was an area that needed attention, I should focus on that area. If I felt blocked with my writing, I should brainstorm, come up with a writing plan, and force myself to get the words out consistently every day. After all, the writing books say you must just show up and do it. Do the work.
And yet, the more I forced myself, the more I not only resisted the work but hated it, whether that be writing, exercising, making a decision, or searching for a career. I felt miserable, I felt like a failure, and my discouragement and frustration grew. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just get over this hump!
Slowly I realized that the outer world turns upon the inner. It’s not about the writing or the career or deciding which color and shape cereal bowl to buy. There are blockages and belief systems embedded deep inside which prevent you from moving toward your goals.
This will sound counter-intuitive, but in order to shift your thinking and move closer to your dreams, you have to stop pursuing them. Weird, huh? What I mean is you stop pursuing these things using a linear surface tactic. You must pursue them by tending to your inner world. This means connecting to your essence, dealing with resistance, fear, grief, and shame. Finding what moves you, moving away from “shoulds,” and celebrating who you are.
And the more you celebrate who you are and tend your inner world, the more the exterior will shift. When you feel more connected to yourself and have worked with resistance, you find you can write. When you nurture self-confidence, self-love, and self-acceptance, you feel ready to take on the challenge of a new career. When you learn self-trust and how to deal with uncertainty, you can make decisions more easily.
So if you’re feeling stuck on an external problem or are facing off against your wall of resistance, try a new tactic. Take a second to pause, breathe, and dive beneath the surface. What really needs attention?
Challenge!: Instead of putting the cart before the horse (as we often do—this being the way our culture often views change), write down one thing you’ve been feeling stuck on. Maybe you want to switch careers, go to college, date someone, start a project or passion, take care of yourself physically, make decisions, let go of perfectionism, or act with confidence and vulnerability. Then, dive beneath the surface, ask yourself what really needs attention, and consider how best to tend to that need. Let go of the surface vision for a second to really lovingly invest in the root cause. Once the root is healed, the branches start to show signs of growth.