What do you really want in your life? How do you want to feel? What do you dream of doing? What really matters? 

Did those questions bring up a glimmer of an idea that you squashed down before you could really look at it? Did you imagine that life you dream of but dismiss it? 

What’s getting in your way? 

Are Other People’s Stories Getting in the Way?

For a long time, I didn’t live my dream. I was a creative, intuitive kid. I wanted to be a chef or an art historian or a theatrical makeup artist. Instead, I followed my parents dreams for me. I went to law school and became an attorney and consultant. did what I was supposed to do, what was expected of me. 

I worked hard and made my parents proud. To the outside world, I looked like a success. But … it wasn’t my path. My parents wanted good things for me, and it took a long time to realize that their success story was standing in my way. I needed to find my own path. 

Are other people’s stories getting in your way? It might be the dreams your parents have for you. Or maybe your partner scoffed when you talked about writing a book or your friends asked, “Why would you want to do that?” when you mentioned you were thinking about starting a business. It could even be the societal expectations about what a “good mother” does or what a “good job” is or whether you are too young or too old to do something. 

Are Your Own Stories Getting in Your Way?

There are a lot of external stories that slow us down, derail us or stop us in our tracks, but sometimes it’s the stories we tell ourselves (and yes, sometimes our internal stories come from what we’ve internalized from others). 

My kids need me too much right now. I can’t go back to school and pay for the kids’ tuition too. Who am I to say I’m an artist? I don’t know enough to start a business. I can’t leave this job even though it’s sucking the life blood out of me, because I just started. I don’t have time for … fill in the blank for whatever lights you up. 

There are so many stories we tell ourselves. Many of them are about why we can’t, why we aren’t enough. 

What if we started telling different stories about ourselves? Stories about times we were brave, times we tried something new, times we bucked expectations, times we thought we weren’t ready but jumped in anyway? What if we told stories about the times we thought we couldn’t — but did?

Get Past the Stories Holding You Back

Start by listening to the stories you’re telling yourself or hearing from others. 

So often these just wash over us. Notice the tone of the stories. Notice where you’re judged (by yourself or others). Notice how the stories make you feel. 

Do you feel energized? Do you feel deflated? Do you feel angry or ashamed? 

Spend some time with a journal and these prompts: 

  • I’d love to try …
  • I’ve always wanted to …
  • Someday I want to …

Set a timer and just list things. If as you list you find yourself writing in more detail about one thing you want to do or try, go with that. Try not to judge or edit yourself. 

If you’re having trouble letting ideas come, try writing to this prompt: I really want to … but … 

Read through your response and notice what stories are getting in your way. Is it the same story over and over or do you have lots of stories to break down to keep moving? 

Be kind to yourself and let yourself imagine a new story, one where you follow that dream, do the thing you long to do. How would that feel?

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