One night last week my son and I went for tea at my daughter’s new apartment at UNCA. It was the first time I was able to see it because I was at a coaching retreat in L.A. on her move-in day. When I walked in, I noticed a look of pride and pure joy on her face. What you have to understand is how miserable this kid was for an entire year in the university where she spent her Freshman year.
The culture just wasn’t right for her, and her feeling of discomfort made her feel so very separate and alone. She is already high on the anxiety and social anxiety scale, but last year, she broke the scale – her anxiety shot through the roof!
It’s strange, but makes total sense, how this is all cyclical – the more she was in it, the more she triggered the social anxiety. Isolation, let to increased anticipatory anxiety, which made it harder to step out and connect with people, which led to a feeling of separation and self-consciousness, shame… and on we go with this vicious circle.
When it’s your kid, it’s hard. You’d put yourself in their shoes if you could. But this is her journey. I am only able to serve as a guide, and even that has to be very subtle.
She had to explore what was going on within her. She had to step back to recreate her vision, which also meant understanding how she had gotten here in the first place. What she found was all the “shoulds” she had been handed, primarily “You should go away to college.”
Without really knowing what a limiting belief is, she began to see what hers had become, “If you don’t go away to college, you’re a loser because you’re settling.” Many more reared their ugly heads. And she picked them apart, struggled with them, tried to understand them, and then finally decided that these “shoulds” are worthless.
So why I am sharing this with you? What does this have to do with running our businesses and busy lives?
Because as we grow, the “shoulds” keep coming. The many messages we received in the past often stick around and become the limiting beliefs that keep us stuck. Our job is to forge new paths, rather than follow those laid out to us by society.
Fun fact: Albert Ellis, a cognitive therapist and theorist, coined the terms “shoulding” and “musturbating” to show the danger of our shoulds and musts. Ellis advised that “people stop ‘shoulding’ on others and themselves, and avoid ‘musturbating’ as much as possible.”
My daughter made a plan to create change, and she took the often painful steps to get there. Because having the vision and doing the planning is one thing, but rising to the challenge of intentionally walking the path, doing the work to reach your goals, training for the marathon, dealing with the sometimes mundane day-to-day tasks and frustrating situations…
ALL of this is what we have to commit if we want to reach the other side.
Every journey opens us up to infinite possibility. The trick is being receptive and aware to tap into that. So that night when I sat across from my kid and her brother in her new apartment, where she now lives with three roommates, her look of pride and pure joy was the greatest gift.
She shared stories from her day, the things she’d learned in her classes which started two days ago but already fascinated her, her routine, the new connections she’s forming with her roommates… It was one of those perfect moments in time – where you take a mental snapshot and store it away never to be forgotten.
It helped me to remember that true liberation happens when we realize that we can release all the “shoulds” and choose our unique path.
So if there’s something that’s holding you back, making it hard to breathe, or keeping you stuck, is it possible you’re following someone else’s path and not your own?