Overcoming the shadows of your past to grow into your best future
If you’re like most high-performing leaders, you have desires and goals to grow and get to the next level in all areas of your life. Go, ambition!
But have you noticed along the path to realizing your dreams that you’ve faced self-doubt and obstacles that have stopped you from achieving?
Whether professional dreams (like getting a promotion or starting a new career) or personal (like being in a fulfilling romantic relationship or being a homeowner), what’s been holding you back?
Mapping your future
Think about what you’re currently trying to grow and manifest in your life. A promotion? Having kids? Finding a romantic partner? Improving your health? Inventing a product? Or just a vague, “Something more than this?”
People tend to fall into three categories when it comes to the age-old “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” question.
- “I have no idea.” (Note: If this is you, don’t be discouraged. Many, if not most, are surviving day-to-day without taking time to dream of the future.)
- “I know what I want but quit whenever it gets difficult.”
- “I see my future clearly, and nothing will stop me.”
The most successful, fulfilled people have one thing in common: A strong sense of purpose and clarity of where they want to go in their lives. Oprah has also reported this observation from interviewing thousands of prolific people.
In addition to purpose and clarity, your desire to achieve your dream has to be much stronger than any negativity that may get thrown in your way. g
Why leveling up requires looking a few levels down
As a high-performance coach for over a decade, I’ve worked with hundreds of people striving for their best. In this work, I’ve encountered this universal truth: The shadows of your past can inhibit your journey to grow into a brighter future. The process of growing and transformation requires confronting shadows at every new level.
As mere mortals, we all have hidden mental blockers that hinder us. And the bigger your goal or challenge is, the more powerful your inner shadows can get.
The size of the accomplishment, change, or growth you want to make is proportional to the size of the shadow holding you back.
Illuminate your shadows to ascend
Look at what’s been standing in the way of your goal. Is it that you don’t feel good enough, experienced, attractive, or rich enough?
When was the first time you heard or thought about those feelings?
Most internal blocks can be traced back to a situation when you heard negative feedback.
Through no fault of yours, perhaps even as a child, you may have taken negative feedback as truth. You started believing in an identity or limitation someone gave you.
For example, hearing a parent frequently say, “Oh, he’s so immature, he’ll never be able to be responsible with money” could lead to that child labeling themself as such and never try to grow past the limitations put on them.
Years later, when that child might want to start their own business, they’ll hear that negative shadow voice again. “You’ll never succeed with your own business; you’re too irresponsible. You never finish anything. Why bother?”
When someone else’s words become the blueprint for your beliefs, unconscious patterns emerge, dictating your life and miring you in limitations.
Many of the most outstanding achievers in the world have feelings of inadequacy. Stars like Ed Sheeran have discussed facing insecurities from receiving prior negative feedback. Can you imagine if he’d listened and stopped making music? His desire to create was stronger than the negative voices.
Choosing courageous light, over fear of the dark
Use courage to light your shadows. You DO belong on that stage. In that room. In that wonderful relationship. Doing that speaking engagement. You DO belong.
- Get clear about what you want and your why. What do you want to do so badly that obstacles won’t stop you? When not doing it would be worse than your fears of trying?
- Identify what shadows or negative beliefs are holding you back. Pinpoint the root of your limitations. These are situations when others’ voices exerted undue influence over your sense of self-worth.
- Explore strategies to dismantle those negative beliefs.
Focus on your goal
Where your eyes go in sports, the ball goes. When you’re driving your car, the direction the car goes is where you’re looking. Where you put your focus and energy is where you’ll travel.
If you don’t know what you want to do, take some advice from the Dalai Lama. Look outside yourself and identify any suffering, pain, or conditions you no longer want to tolerate.
If you focus on shadows, you’ll stay in the shadows.
If you focus on ascension, you’ll automatically rise.
Inner leadership = Outer leadership
Our outer world is a mirror of our inner world.
By addressing barriers and confronting shadows, leaders can ascend to new heights. Your power of transformation resides in your willingness to face your past and break free from prior programming.
As you look to unlock your future, face your shadows. Illuminate them with courage and intentionality, and you’ll ascend beyond your past into the brilliance of your potential.
Need help to ascend your shadows? We are expert illuminators; reach out!
Co-writer: Shannon Geher