One day recently when I was feeling particularly frustrated, an image appeared. Whenever I thought of something I wanted to do, a place I wanted to move toward or a specific way I wanted to enhance my life, I saw a wall of "no". In fact, I was surrounded by them. I would move a little bit in one direction, and I would hit a wall of "no". Then I would move a little bit in another direction and hit another wall of "no". No matter what direction I chose, I could only move so far until I encountered another wall of "no".
Of course, this is a metaphor, but for me it is a good way for me to examine, where, how and why I feel stuck or blocked or limited. Instead of simply trying to plow through these seeming solid obstacles, I decided to pause to see what I might learn from them. You see, I've discovered over the years that if a lesson or pattern keeps repeating, it means there's something important I need to learn. The walls of "no" were, in essence, a reflection of something happening within me.
As I got clear about this, I felt a sense of excitement bubbling up.
Now I had something to work with.
Changing things on the outside doesn't really stop repeating patterns or lessons from showing up. No matter how many actions I took in my daily life, they would not, in themselves, have the power to dissolve the limitations I kept bumping into.
In order for true lasting change to happen on the outside, it has to begin first on the inside.
The walls of "no" were sourcing from a deep, primal place, held in place by the scaffolding of false beliefs, fears and scripts that had been put there in reaction to trauma, heartbreak, shock and so on. Initially, they'd been put there to keep me safe. Over time, they'd become a prison.
My inner work was to let the vulnerable part of me know that I no longer needed these walls of protection. That I had found other, more expansive ways to keep myself safe. That it was okay to venture into the unknown territory that lay beyond the walls. That I truly wanted access to all of those experiences that had been previously deemed unsafe.
Dissolving the walls that had kept me safe and protected is a big step, but at this point, staying put is no longer serving me. The longing to grow and expand, and yes, take risks, is greater than my need to feel safe. It doesn't mean I need to throw caution to the wind and go to the other extreme and act recklessly. It means expanding the edges of my world a little bit at a time until the bigger world feels normal.
That I could do.
It's funny. You would think with all the nomadic travel and working without a guaranteed paycheck, I'd be an expert at navigating the landscape of the unknown. I thought so too. However, each of us has a growing edge, a place that feels terrifying and daunting, a place that we have place some walls. I just happened to have recently bumped into some of mine.
Playing a bigger game in a bigger field can be highly intimidating, which is why many of us keep ourselves walled into a small space. We have defined ourselves by those parameters for so long that they feel like a warm and cozy pair of pajamas. It is only when we tire of playing small and long to see what's on the other side of those walls that we'll be willing to open our arms to new and bigger opportunities.
Of course, healthy boundaries are good to have, but they don't have to be a fortress; they can be small fences that have gates that can easily be opened or locked, if necessary. Also, a strong connection with the intuitive wisdom of one's Inner Voice doesn't hurt. It may scare you sometimes, but it won't steer you wrong.
Living life full out requires incredible bravery and a willingness to dissolve our tendencies to settle too deeply into our comfort zones. A little nudge here and there and even a push can be just what we need to soar again.