If money, time or other commitments were no obstacle in 2014, what would you do? Describe your vision!
A seemingly innocent question. If the obvious barriers were removed – money, time, obligations – what would you do? The trouble is, these external barriers are nothing compared to the internal ones. The internal barriers are the ones that really stop us.
What are internal barriers?
Internal barriers are the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves. The small voice in our heads that tell us what we want is impossible. The ready excuses that come to mind when we contemplate what we really want. The internal barriers might be a belief in a fore-shortened future or the idea that we won’t live to an old age. Or a belief that protecting ourselves from emotional pain is the only choice, closing out chances for love and connection. Internal barriers can be the chip on our shoulder, the defensiveness that protects us. It might be a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, powerlessness or despair. The barriers might be the voice in our head that tells us we aren’t pretty enough, thin enough, tall enough, rich enough.
Where Do Internal Barriers Come From?
Internal barriers come from many places. They might be echoes of a parent’s criticism. Maybe the experience of being picked on, excluded or rejected when we we were young. Internal barriers can come from the messages of a larger society, the subtle ways that we learn who is worthy. Sometimes they are the beliefs that enabled us to survive and overcome the painful things we experienced. If we expect everyone to hurt us, then we won’t be hurt as bad when they do. It was inevitable right?
How Do Internal Barriers Hurt Us?
The worst part about internal barriers is they are extremely hard to see, nearly invisible. Wherever they came from, they are things we believe to be true about ourselves and the world around us. They shape our expectations and cause us to limit our possibilities. At their worst, internal barriers can drive us to hurt others in ways similar to how we were hurt. Internal barriers create unnecessary stress and conflict within us and within in our relationships with others. They can make us decide not to pursue the things we really want and convince ourselves we are happy with a half-lived life.
What Can We Do About Our Internal Barriers?
Internal barriers can only be discovered and addressed through a willingness to do it. Taking a serious and honest look at ourselves can be the most courageous, terrifying and complicated thing we can do. We have to be willing to admit our own weaknesses in order to discover our strengths. Often discovering our internal barriers will require the presence of others. As we share and talk with others, we see ourselves through their eyes. Maybe we are fortunate enough to have one or two or more supportive friends to be part of this process. And maybe even the greatest friends have limitations that prevent them from really helping us. This is where professional counselors and therapists come in. A quality therapist supports us unconditionally, regards us in a positive light, and has no personal stake in the outcome of our growth.
So what do you think? Will you cast off the internal barriers holding you back?