What is holding you back right now?
Money? Opportunities? Education? Health? Family? Capability?
There are many things that we can point to when we try to make sense of why we haven’t achieved what we want to. Some of us look outwards, pointing to people and situations. Others blame their own inadequacies – labelling themselves too stupid, too lazy, too incompetent.
Consider your own life. Is there something you wish was different? Perhaps you would like to see more of the world. Maybe you have an unrealised career aspirations. Or are you struggling with a relationship?
When you reflect on the situation, what do you believe has created it?
Do you feel it’s because of things that have happened during your life? Or is it your responsibility?
Your answer to this question is critical in two ways.
If you pointed to outside influences then you likely have an external locus of control. That means you believe you are ultimately at the mercy of the world and that your life is the product of what happens to you. If you pointed to yourself however, it’s probable you see life as a mirror of what you have done and that you have an internal locus of control.
In reality we all swing between the two at some point, but where we spend most of our time (internal or external) has a big impact on how we view life. While there is no doubt we cannot control everything that happens to us, it is far more empowering if you believe that life is ultimately the outcome of your choices.
While that doesn’t mean you blame yourself for every misadventure or loss, it does mean that whatever happens you believe you choose your response. And that belief has an immense influence on the impact a situation has.
For example, you apply for a new role but you are turned down. Do you throw in the towel blaming a broken system or malicious bosses? Or do you see it as an opportunity to reflect and look for another opening?
Having a strong internal locus of control is empowering because it means that you see yourself in the driver’s seat regardless of what events occur in your life. It means that you always have a measure of control over how things turn out.
Now this is all well and good, but there is another factor at play. Your beliefs.
While you may believe you have control over how you respond to situations, but what if you also believe that everyone is judging you? Or that you are responsible for everyone else’s well-being? That no-one really loves you? Or people can’t be trusted?
We all live our lives in line with a set of core beliefs, values and assumptions about how the world works. Unfortunately however, we are rarely aware of what those beliefs actually are or how they are limiting us. They are so essential to how we define ourselves that we don’t question what we’re doing.
Think about that area of your life that isn’t where you want it to be. Consider the thoughts that popped into your head when you asked yourself why you haven’t achieved what you want to? Was your response internally or externally driven? Were the answers founded on fact or belief?
It is only when we become conscious of our internal drivers that we can start to question them. And it’s in creating this awareness that we can push back on our limiting beliefs and push past the self-imposed boundaries in our life.