You’re probably holding yourself back out of fear.
There are a lot of things in your life you could change right now if you chose to change them. But you would have to have a tough conversation, or you would have to take a leap of faith or leave someone behind. You wonder if the loss is worth the potential gain. That’s why most people reach a certain point in life and get stuck there for years–if not forever.
Why do we hold on so tight to parts of our lives that aren’t working for us anymore?
We fear changing direction in life because we think what we have now is “good enough.” Changing seems too scary because you’re invested in what you already have. You tell yourself to be grateful things aren’t worse, without realizing the things that once served you are now corroding your soul.
For most people, the only way they’ll make a dramatic change is if they’re forced to through a crisis like a divorce or a heart attack. Even then, only a small percentage will follow through and become someone else.
You have to betray your old self to move forward
Part of the reason moving forward is so scary is because it requires betrayal.
I used to work for a non-profit where my daily schedule was mostly up to me. When that non-profit closed down, I took a 9–5 job where my days are structured and controlled by someone else. I felt like a failure because I had to become someone else at the expense of who I used to be.
Many of the things you built your life on–the beliefs you held dear at one stage of your life–will hinder you at this new stage. As new doors of opportunity open for you, they’ll require you to become someone you’ve never been before. To do that you’ll have to do things you never thought you’d do to meet the demands of the changes. It will feel like a betrayal of your former self, as you cross old boundaries and explore new ones.
You aren’t a bad person because you change your life. Those changes may strain some of your past relationships and the people who knew you in the past. But you will find new ways to relate to them if they are important to you. Otherwise, they will fade into the pages of the previous chapter of your life.
You have to betray your past self so you can become your future self.
The person you were got you here today
It’s common to look back on your former self and feel embarrassed. How could you have said or done those things? What were you thinking, spending time with him?
That feeling of embarrassment is a sign you’re moving forward in life. It isn’t something you should try to avoid to save your ego. People who stay the same in life are stuck.
Imagine you into an old friend you haven’t seen in years. While you’re catching up, your friend says, “You’re exactly the same as you always were.” Would you take it as a compliment?
Change is an important part of life. You’re supposed to grow in your perspective and beliefs. You may think it’s safe, even noble, not to change but the world is changing around you. While you’re clinging to a past version of yourself, life is moving on. Will you go with it, or stay behind?
No matter how bad you want to go back to a time you imagine as simpler and happier, you can’t. All you can do is take the next steps and see where they take you.
You tell yourself a different story
The story you tell yourself about yourself determines the quality of your life. Real change happens when you start telling yourself a different story. As Brianna Wiest says:
“We let go not when we think we are supposed to, but when our minds move onto reciting different stories, building new realities.”
How do you change the story you tell yourself? By engaging in new experiences.
Part of the reason you stay stuck is that you’re telling yourself a limiting story. You have plenty of evidence to back up your claims, but all it takes is a few new experiences to start editing and shifting that story.
If you tell yourself you always fail, all you need are a few tiny wins to start changing that old story. Did you get up this morning? That’s a win. Did you try to follow through on a goal today? That’s another win. You change your story one line at a time.
Your life will change when you begin to see new possibilities for your future and start working toward them.
The person you used to be was right for a while, but now it’s time to let go. Your future depends on your willingness to become a different person.
It will feel strange–even wrong–at times because it will feel like a betrayal. It may feel like you’re betraying your tribe because they don’t understand your evolution. You have to venture out past the borders of your past self and you won’t have the blessing of the tribe you’re leaving. Will you go anyway?
You have permission to let go of the old you as you search for something new. It’s okay to rewrite your story and find one that empowers you to take your life to the next level. There are more possibilities out there for you than you can imagine. As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have to courage to pursue them.”