As we grow (all of us older, some of us up), we are forced to challenge the old mental wiring in our heads. Often times those old ways don’t work as well for us as it did before. In a recent coaching session, after working on my edge (My coach calls it Coaching for an Edge) I said, “I’m amazed at how strongly this part of me wants to hold on.” I’ve been working on this thing for a while, approaching it in different ways, yet holding on to it firmly. “It’s a well worn pathway,” she noted, “formed early on.” In order to succeed with any thing we need to learn to get beyond hesitation.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
I have heard this before. I’m hard headed.
The wall of apprehension I face shows up, and expressing myself fully can be disheartening. As if the every part of me fights ‘the good fight’ against that fear daily, just to be seen and heard as who I really am. Sometimes, I don’t even think I’ve ever seen that part of me fully, but I am learning to trust that it’s okay to ‘come out and play’ when I can feel myself at edge of the wall, toeing the line, and wrought with concern for the outcome.
Changing, by moving beyond those limits, is a matter of creating fresh neural pathways and re-wiring the older pathways in your brain. It can be done. I have done it myself at other times and helped others do it. Shifting requires new strategies – and reminding yourself that (what you want) is good, even though it feels “good” to continue down the well worn, hard wired paths of your daily life.
The parts of ourselves that are wired in hard are the result of circumstances we’ve survived. Your lower brain, which is focused solely on survival, hangs on to every one of those pathways. They worked. All of the new stuff you want to do–like anything you have never done or thought before–is a big risk according to that part of your brain’s encoding. You haven’t survived it–yet. In the histories of your neural programming accounts, that edge is scary and there’s no agenda for that, so it reverts to what it knows is safe.
”Dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” –May Sarton
Taking into account all those fears – real, perceived, or your history of showing up in your individual ‘present’ – the bravest of us move audaciously through the halls of fear, facing all their gremlins, and move forth, reaching for the microphone, taking that new job, asking for that date with the woman that inspires us, or even moving to Alaska, in full authentic expression of self. For most of us though, while we know it’s survivable, the risk is great and that primitive part of our brain never fails to remind us at every turn. So we stay where we are.
“Have confidence to go beyond hesitation.”
I’ve come to like working with and on that ‘edge’ and often will intentionally do things that alarm me. I call it “taking on the storm.”
If you keep breathing through it, as you face the gremlins, assumptions and limiting beliefs, one by one, you can, with practice, keep calm and carry on, reminding those parts of you with old information that “You can take care of this.”
That’s still a sometimes challenging move for me, and although it may not seem big and scary on the outside, something about my internal wiring on the inside makes it the thing that calls out all my gremlins to the surface. They can loom quite large in front of me. If I don’t act carefully my full expression is silenced by my fears.
And that’s no way to live a life.
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Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.