Remember back to when you were younger...a time when you had certain ideas as to what the future held for you...what you wanted. There were things you loved to do as a child, imagined yourself doing as an adult. Did the reality come close to what you had imagined? Were there disappointments? Did any of these experiences turn out to be better than what you had anticipated?
When you consider the goals you did not reach which were so important to you long ago do you come up with reasons you gave yourself along the way for letting go of what you wanted?
Some of the practical reasons are:
•On closer inspection this goal was not really what I wanted •Through the partial pursuit of this goal I found something I wanted more •After trying everything I could I realized that this goal could not realistically be attained •I was physically unable to attain this particular goal due to unalterable
These are all understandable reasons for leaving behind a goal and looking for one that is more suitable.
Sometimes our goals reflect youthful enthusiasm that is not necessarily grounded in reality. Life also has its way of changing our paths at times in ways that can improve our plans in unforeseen ways. In those cases, we continue to discover new things to plan for, using successful experiences as our motivation.
If our plans don't work out or we experience disappointments or losses along the way, sadness, hopelessness, or cynicism can take the place of enthusiasm for life. We can begin settling for less than we really want.
See if any of these reasons are on your list:
•I don't think I'll be able to do it •Other people may be able to do it better •I am not smart enough •I'm not creative enough •Who was I to think I could achieve that? •I was always told I wouldn't amount to much and sometimes I believe it •I do not deserve it •I wouldn't know where to begin so why try? •Life isn't fair •Other people succeed, I don't have that kind of luck •No one in my family ever did that •What would people think? •I can't really imagine myself being successful •The culture does not support these kinds of goals for women •I would feel bad being more successful than------- (fill in family member of your choice)
If these kinds of messages are familiar to you something inside you is working against your success.
These "reasons" for being unwilling or unable to follow through with a dream reflect a negative self image which can affect both personal and professional relationships as well as developing into self-sabotaging behavior. If this kind of thinking seeps in, uninvited, on a regular basis, you are dealing with the very messages that create low self- esteem and depression.
Often when people think about depression they picture miserable looking souls who are bed ridden or hospitalized, unable to work or relate to others. This is what major depression can look like. But there is an insidious form of depression that may develop early in life, sometimes even in childhood. It doesn't always get you so down that you can't function, but it keeps you from feeling happy, enjoying the simple moments and pleasures in life . It may be fueled by voices from the past that now live in your head reminding you of your weaknesses, your failures, and life's disappointments. Many people accept that this kind of thinking is unavoidable, or that everyone feels this way. Many people do...but it makes life unenjoyable, casts a pall on relationships and can make work feel like drudgery. It can keep you from going beyond your present circumstances and growing into the person you were meant to be. If this sounds all too familiar, I urge you to consider learning a different way to live.
It is not as hard as it sounds, and involves becoming familiar with the messages, learning to counter them with positive ones, trying out new behaviors and developing a level of faith...in one's self and in life. Sometimes it also involves having
a better understanding of one's family and what the intentions and the limitations of parents might have been. But there is definitely the opportunity to overcome this kind of self-destructive, self- sabotaging thinking.
•Be aware of when the limiting messages are drifting into your thoughts. Challenge them. •Familiarize yourself with your old dreams - see which ones still sound appealing. •After you have recognized which of your "reasons" for failing to attain your goals are self- destructive, begin Phase II of your dream. •Do your research, be creative, set attainable goals.
If you find you are so weighted down by negative messages, feelings of laziness, (most people who describe themselves as "lazy" are more likely depressed) or personal problems, that you cannot move forward, do seek the professional help you may need to get what you want in your life. Sometimes medication is indicated and can aid in getting the therapeutic process off the ground.
What is life without dreams?