You too can step away from your negative past and into a future full of possibilities

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they suddenly came out with all their pent-up anger, disgust, and shame and blasted it at you out of the blue? One of those good and juicy “I’m going to let you have it!” conversations that actually has absolutely nothing to do with you – and everything to do with you.

This, unfortunately, happened to me this summer.

It was awful to be at the receiving end of such a blast. And it completely knocked the wind out of my happy summer sails. It left me shaken, confused, and hurt.

Who was I to think I could have X, be X, live X…? Who was I to think I could stand up for what I believe in? Convey my opinions and navigate my family and myself through the world in the best way I knew how? Who was I to think that I should try my best to live every day to its fullest and live a life that looked happy and fulfilled to all around me?

Frankly, my dear, who am I to think I shouldn’t?

What’s more, you can stand up and be you, too!

Just because I am living my life a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t do the same – or even better, chart the path you want for yourself. I don’t want you to live my life. I want you to live YOURS.

What’s stopping you? What’s getting in the way?

What's stopping you from playing BIG?Click To Tweet

The thing that bothered me the most about this uncalled-for tirade was how it caused me to automatically retreat and want to play small so I could make those around me look big.

And words from my childhood started ringing through my ears:

“You have a good job. Why would you want anything different?”

“You have an education; why do you want more?”

“You shouldn’t travel anywhere, that’s just a waste of money.”

“You have enough, you should give some to me.”

“You’re fat, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You’re beautiful, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You don’t understand, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You’re smart, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You’re not content with the status quo, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You’re ambitious, therefore you don’t fit in.”

“You think you’re too good for us now that you _______ (fill in the blank.)”

These are the spoken and unspoken words of my childhood that still hold me back.

Playing small in a world where I’m meant to play big.

Curiously, this realization had laid dormant for me for a long time. How can it be that words and behaviours from my childhood are still playing out in my life some 40 years later?

How about you?

Is there anything from your past that is stopping you from stepping into your future?

Is your past stopping you from stepping forward into your future?Click To Tweet

As these things go, everything I read now seems to be about letting go of the past and consciously shifting patterns of behaviour so you can step into a new way of being.

In the August 2017 issue of O Magazine, Oprah penned her closing What I Know for Sure column about the art of letting go. Letting go of anger, letting go of grudges, letting go of negative words in your head that serve no one, least of all you. Who do these negative words serve? And what are they preventing you from stepping into?

Rabbi Edwin Goldberg, in his book Saying No and Letting Go, writes about the notion of controlling what you do and do not engage with. As humans, we are all limited, in that none of us controls everything. But what we can control is the free will to let tough situations go. “When you face a tough situation you can’t change,” writes Goldberg, “you can grieve that there is nothing to be done – and then you can be done with it.”

All of this is easier said than done, of course. How do you let go of the hurtful things that have been hurled at you whether you supposedly deserved these words or not?

In the words immortalized by Dirty Dancing’s Patrick Swayze: “No one puts Baby in a corner.”  And no one should put you in a corner. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you rather than hold you back. Release the toxic replay in your head and step into the freedom of love, confidence, and possibility.

And if the quote from Dirty Dancing wasn’t deep enough for you, let’s try one from the wise poet Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

What would it be like if we all went out in that field – or at least tried to get there? What possibilities would open up for you if you left behind the right and the wrong, the resentments and the “should have’s,” and made decisions based on what is right for YOU, now? What would be possible then?

I’d love to see you in that field where you get to step into the possible. Play BIG! No more playing small or holding back just to please others. They get to live their lives, and you get to live yours.

What’s on the other side? The side where you get to play BIG, not small, and live YOUR life the way you were meant to? I’d love to hear. Message me or post your answer in the comments below.

What would you do, who would you be, if you stopped playing small?

Susan Elford

P.S. If you’d like to receive regular doses of Balancing Your Total Life in your inbox twice a month, sign up here or below so you don’t miss a single issue! You will be joining a community of like-minded, career-loving, life-balancing, go-getters who want to make the most of every single day. And, if this is speaking to you in a way that is sparking you to make some real change in your life or in your career, and you’re looking for more CLARITY about what’s next so you can be SUCCESSFUL in your career or your business, send me an email and we’ll set up time for a complimentary Balance Breakthrough Session. We will get you well on your way to figuring out how you can make those needed changes so you can balance it all and feel fulfilled in your life and in your work.

PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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