The Three Biggest Myths We Tell Ourselves That Are Holding Us Back From Pursuing And Fighting For The Changes We Wish To See In The World

What we tell ourselves can reveal our believes in our abilities and How we can overcome the negative beliefs stopping us from taking action on our goals.
Be the change you wish to be in the world
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

At the beginning of the Coronavirus, with isolations and quarantine restrictions starting back in March 2020 the world seemed to be aghast over all the issues that now seemed truly important fighting for. The environment matters, blue lives matter, black lives matter, education matters, ousting unfavorable politicians mattered…. and the list goes on. It was as if overnight all those issues and wounds in the world resurfaced with a vengeance all at once. Many of us picked up a cause as our own and were ready to head 'to the mattresses' to fight for it. 

Here we are a year later and how much fighting did we actually do or active steps did we take to be the change we wished to see in the world?

In reality, we are all mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. When we are this burnt out it is easy to let all the things we truly believe in fall to the wayside. But in reality, this is the worst thing we can do. All of these things that matter rose to the surface for a reason they have yet to be healed. This is our opportunity to do so. Here is a stark look at the myths that hold us back and the ways we can overcome them even in this challenging time. By overcoming them we can slowly find the strength to build a better future one small step at a time, and they may in fact lead us to the healing we need to get ourselves back on our feet. 

Here are the three myths creating major roadblocks that we are using to excuse ourselves from taking action towards pursuing our goals and creating a difference in the world. 

1. It's too hard and complicated

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” - Jane Goodall

This myth reveals the belief we are not capable and when we feel this we tend to wish to take the easiest route to solve problems.  Believing things are too hard, or worse out of our control can be debilitating, but human nature turns to the easy way out as a survival technique. Instinctively when we feel threatened we find the fastest route to escape.

The thought 'There Is nothing we can do about it’ is going to get this world nowhere fast.  Even at the best of times when we are feeling whole, it is human nature to want to take the easy way out causing us to come up with a load of excuses why we can't step into a place of action. That thought you keep telling yourself ‘You know I feel really strongly about such and such a cause but I'm going to let everyone else handle it.’ Or worse the inner voice that tells you ‘why put in the effort it will sort itself out eventually’. That thought is apathy at its finest. When we are hurting, as so many of us are right now, we want the easy road because things seem too hard and we feel we have nothing to give. 

Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed came out when the world needed it most. She explains plainly that human nature turns towards taking the easy way out.

“Easy” buttons are the things that appear in front of us that we want to reach for because they temporarily take us out of our pain and stress. They do not work in the long run, because what they actually do is help us abandon ourselves. “Easy” buttons take us to fake heaven. Fake heaven always turns out to be hell….Because I've learned that when I run from pain, I bypass transformation—like a caterpillar constantly jumping out of its cocoon, right before it was about to become a butterfly.” Glennon Doyle

How to overcome the belief we are not capable 

Resist the urge to hit the easy button. If you are in pain, emotionally or physically. DO NOT PROCEED.  I give you the permission to just stop. But in order to stop, you must fully be brave enough to feel uncomfortable in your pain. Just be, whatever it is you are at the moment. We have to travel through it. Once you are ready, hit the reset button, but we have to pick ourselves up first.

The antidote to the easy button is to pause first then reach for the reset button, Glennon explains. This means reaching for the things that juice us up and kickstart our resurrection out of pain. Timing is everything though. Don’t rush the process and come out of pain too soon or you will fall right back into it.

Reset buttons are going to look different for everyone. Things such as mindfulness, meditating, taking long hot baths, reading a good easy book, spending quality time with your pets, cuddling your kids, feeding your body nourishing healthy foods. For me, it's going for a walk in the woods. or sitting in my great-grandmother's chair wrapped in a cozy blanket with a hot cup of tea. Once we are feeling upright again we can move forward. 

In terms of practicing being the change you wish to see in the world, in reality, it's just as easy to hit a reset button and do something small and little for that long-term goal. Believe that you're fueling and stoking the fire of change. Moving towards change and fighting for something you feel passionate about does not have to be hard. We have this image in our head that in order for change to happen, you have to do something truly groundbreakingly, earth-shatteringly remarkable in order to get results. This is simply not true. 

All it takes for the first step is to simply imagine yourself working towards that goal, what does that look like to you? Day dream yourself as the hero who steps up to the plate. Can’t even begin to imaging something so grand? Look to your own heroes and the qualities they have that you admire and got them to where they are. What are the qualities you have that might be similar? Once you have that dream established and you’ve narrowed in again on that goal and the strength you possess, bring them to the table because Its time to move into action. 

Do the research, put your time, money, and attention on the path of your intentions. Care for that small plot of earth in your backyard, buy only items that you need and are of worth to you or in alignment with your value systems, spend time with those you love and what is of value to you. Figure out what you want the world to look like in the future and then act accordingly. You don’t know how much leading by example can ripple through the world. Doing simple things in alignment with your vision of a better world can even be your reset button out of pain. So heal the tiny plot of Earth on your front lawn,  write that letter to the school trustees or MP’s, and teach your children to love themselves for who they are. By taking any little step at all, you create movement. 

It importance of small steps
Photo credit Google images 

2. I am only one person and that can't make a difference

‘Because really who am I to make a difference?’ We all discredit the effect that one person can make.  This is fear-based thinking and it can debilitate us.  This myth reveals the belief we are not good enough and is the number one blockage people face when making the leap into action. It stagnates our thinking into a slough of polluted thoughts. We think these thoughts when our safety is shaken and we feel insecure about the world and our place in it. Again the pandemic exacerbates this cycle. This thought process is defined as Impostor syndrome.

“Impostor syndrome involves feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt, despite evidence to the contrary. No matter how successful these individuals were, they felt like frauds, and their beliefs robbed them of mental strength. They thought they just weren't good enough to compete at a higher level, and ultimately, their bad mental habits sabotaged their success. The belief I am not enough stops us dead in our tracks.” - Amy Morin 

How to overcome the belief we are not enough

The antidote to this fear-based thinking is taking self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief we have the ability within us to achieve and reach our goals and become successful.  When our belief is we aren’t good enough we have to combat that by practicing some simple steps toward self-efficacy.  

The first is to shift our focus out of failure into one of success. You must look for it.  Look at the people you love and remember times when you were most proud of them or when they experienced success in their lives. Look at your own life and remember personal times of success. Look through old report cards or projects you kept because you got that great mark, or the comment your teacher left you made you feel you truly accomplished something worth noting. It is important to get out of the funk of feeling everything you attempt might fail. 

Know your strengths and passions and share them with the world. Feel you have lost your sense of self so completely you don’t recall what they are? You can ask those you love what they admire about you and believe your strengths are for a start. But your passions are still inside you waiting to be brought to the surface again. A simple way to kickstart this investigation to start playing. I mean truly be playful with things, get creative, and start asking questions. My favorites ones start with “I wonder….” 

It's time to stop thinking you are alone in the world. No matter how alone you might feel I can guarantee you are not. Find your tribe if you haven’t already and I know they will back you up in your pursuits with encouraging words even if your vision is different from theirs. Stop listening and believing the nay sayers and start tuning into your intuition. Deep down you know what you are capable of, your gut knows, now convince your brain too.

Mamie Morrow does an amazing job in her TED talk describing ways we can improve our self-efficacy and the importance is plays in our ability to succeed she says;

“Self Efficacy is the fuel that drives change.” - Mamie Morrow

3.  I won't see the change in my lifetime, so what's the point?

When working towards a goal our tendency is to want instant gratification for very little effort. When we rely on outside approval and recognition it reveals a  belief that we need to see it is making a change, if we don't our efforts aren't working. We live in such a society where we have been conditioned to want instant gratification more and more. We go on our phones, we put up a post on social media and we sit there waiting to see how many likes or comments we can get in reaction to what we've just presented. When we are not giving that instant gratification we turn cranky and disheartened. We believe that if we are not receiving praise and recognition, our efforts aren't working.

Instant gratification is when we seek to gain immediate results to fulfill a want or need. It is about gaining instant pleasure.  Our society grossly feeds into this basic human instinct far too much. Fast food, shopping, information, and even money can all be done with the click of a button these days. Our economies feed on instant gratification. This is a pandemic that we should all be concerned about too. Instant gratification is one of the major roadblocks we as individuals trip over that get in the way of us taking any action. 

“In the bigger picture, the more we overvalue instant gratification, the more likely we are to be distracted from longer-term, more meaningful goals….the over-reliance on instant gratification behaviors can create problems by changing our brains, distracting us from more meaningful pursuits” Psychology Today  

Uncertainty and the heightened emotions brought about by life during a pandemic are two side effects of the situation at hand that is feeding into our need for Instant gratification. 

Uncertainty is a factor in increasing our need to feel instant gratification, and if we aren’t living in an unprecedented time of uncertainty I don’t know another word for it. It is hard to predict and envision the future and our role in it. Instant gratification gives us that boost of dopamine to help get us through. Many of us are struggling to find sources that will give us that hit of dopamine required to boost our happiness levels. So we reach for our devices and burrow into social media, and online shopping sites like amazon to give us that hit. 

 Many of us seek instant gratification to help us emotionally regulate. When we are upset we reach for that pint of ice cream or pint of beer hoping to drown it out or wash the uncomfortable feelings away. Again, if we are living in a highly emotional period. So we need to be extra diligent about how the need for instant gratification is affecting our lives.

Many of the things worth fighting for have taken thousands of years to build up. Rome wasn't built in a day and its deconstruction shouldn't be expected to take a day either. Not that we would ever want to deconstruct Rome, but you get my point. 

How to overcome our belief we need to have proof to see know is working. 

Delayed gratification is the solution for instant gratification. It is doing something focusing on the long-term gain,  without seeking the reward immediately.  It is all about knowing what you want and what is worth fighting for.  Practicing delayed gratification requires determination, patience, and a whole lot of imagination. Yes, Imagination. 

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas Imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." Albert Einstein 

Making and setting long-term goals and many times it may require being detached from seeing the outcome in your lifetime, remember the Rome idea?

The whole notion of seven-generation thinking. Just being able to envision the fruits of your labor being enjoyed but future generations, no matter how far down the line, can give you a sense of accomplishment, but you have the imagination to be able to envision it.  Don’t have a clear sense of what your goal is or a long-term plan of how to get there. I highly suggest daydreaming as a good first step. 

Thinking only about our life does a disservice to not only those coming after us but those who came before us. Many of us would not have the rights and privileges today if it weren't for the people of the past working hard for a better life for us today. The work and love they showed us, not needing to see the outcome with their own eyes are truly inspiring and humbling. Pay that love forward. 

"Your crown has been bought and paid for, all you have to do is put it on."  Maya Angelou 

Don't let the crown your ancestors worked hard to make for you lie on the ground and be forgotten. Fight the urge for instant gratification. Give yourself the gift of pause and as the question what is truly needed at this moment, what is worth my time and energy. 

To sum up, If we do not rise up if we do not take even the tiniest of steps towards healing the things presenting themselves to us right now. That will only fall back into dormancy to arise with an even bigger vengeance in years to come. Learn your stumbling blocks preventing you from pursuing your vision for a better world. Practice overcoming them. Baby steps, you can do it. We all can.

Mother of four. Nature lover, Gardener, crafter, and certified soul coach.

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