We have come to accept a mid-life crisis as a natural phase of life. This critical period in a person’s life may include such feelings as discontentment, boredom, restlessness, wanting complete change, confusion about identity or life direction, and questioning prior decisions or the meaning of life.
Do you think such a critical transition would be as commonplace, even expected, if we were all tuned into our innate nature and living our lives in full authentic expression, day by day, throughout our lives?
In my clinical practice, it has become apparent that everyone has some area of their life that they are restricting. While there may be negative traits that need to be held back with discipline, such as anger, rage, and other dysfunctions, most, if not all, of us can identify some wish or desire that is suppressed or a positive part of our personality that is left unexpressed.
For just a moment, close your eyes and think about your own life. What positive trait or nature is being suppressed? What would you truly like to do that has, so far, not been allowed to be expressed? In what ways have your fears become more powerful than your desires and passions?
Fears may appear in many forms: resisting change, controlling others or submitting to control by others, lacking trust, or acting out of duty, obligation, or guilt. You may also restrict your life due to fearing the disapproving opinions of others. Symptoms of suppression can range from boredom, anxiety, irritability and anger, to addictions, weight gain, extra-marital affairs, and self-questioning.
Are you ready for change?
It may seem disheartening to discover how our fears are affecting the way we live, or the numerous ways we allow ourselves to be suppressed from full authentic expression. The good news is that there are specific strategies that can quickly and effectively create the shift that will put us back on the road to health, happiness, and fulfillment.
If you can’t quite put a name to your fear, or are curious about any underlying motivations you may have for holding on to it, start with this simple exercise. Identify a symptom, such as anger, resentment, overeating, or smoking. With an open, thoughtful, and honest attitude, answer the following four questions:
1. What is the benefit of this behavior?
2. What is the detriment of this behavior?
3. If I didn’t have this behavior, what would be the benefit?
4. If I didn’t have this behavior, what would be the detriment?
By uncovering any hidden motivations, you are free to explore new and healthy ways of satisfying old, outdated, self-sabotaging behaviors and perspectives.
When you are ready to experience the many possibilities that will be open to you when you do begin to fully express yourself, try this self-guided visualization:
In a meditative or contemplative state of mind, imagine going into a room where you are free to be your true natural self and can follow through with your heart’s desire. You may imagine that you are an artist, a hero, on an adventure, trying a new career, or simply living more deliberately and passionately.
Allow yourself to spend time imagining that you are fully expressing your passions, living your dreams, thinking, saying, and doing what is truly aligned with your highest values and desires.
When you have finished enjoying that experience, solidify the images and feelings further by writing about them in a journal or personal notebook. Include entries that answer the following questions: What do you notice about that experience? What did you find yourself doing? What, in that experience, did you find surprising? How did it make you feel? What in your life would be different if you were to live each and every day like that?
A fear-free future!
Assess how much energy has been required to maintain a path that excludes this passionate expression in your life. Use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being very stressful to maintain your fears and suppress your desires, and 1 being a minor bump in the road. As you begin to make changes in your life, you can revisit this assessment to measure your progress.
What do you imagine will be the result, over time, if these desires and passions are left unfulfilled? Include the toll it may take on your health, your relationships, your career, your emotions, and your soul. And then, ask yourself: What will it take for you to create alignment with your true expressive self?
Releasing our fears is not always an easy process. But the first step is an awareness that fear is a perspective, not a truth. From that awareness, we are able to choose to retain that fear-filled perspective, or work to replace it with the satisfying life we all deserve.