Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and encouraged.
This week we ask:
Why Seek Out More Keys?
Most everyone would agree that within all of us is locked up potential.
For us to become more, both personally and professionally, if we haven’t already, we need to find the keys that will unlock some of that dormant potential. The idea of this has been a fascination of mine for many years. It is said that the best way to get motivated to unlock your potential is to visit a cemetery; there lay many people who passed on with potential locked away.
My next series of blogs will be a focus on various keys for unlocking more of our potential; insights from my own life experiences and what I have learned from mentors, coaches, and authors.
Let’s begin with our first key to unlocking more potential in our future; it can be found in how we think about our past.
Nothing limits or propels our future more than how we think about our past. Remember, thoughts become actions. We can control our actions but not the consequences of our actions so how we think is quite important! Consider both our conscious and unconscious thoughts; it’s the unconscious thoughts, for obvious reasons, that are particularly difficult to address, but they are often the thoughts that are most limiting. A key strategy for getting at our limiting thoughts is to pay particular attention to our automatic reactive behaviors. If you find yourself reactively responding to any situation in a manner that does not reflect your best self, begin asking “why?”.
Now, the tendency is to blame a person or situation, even maybe use a classic expression from my childhood:
“the devil made me do it.” Whatever your go-to, consider stopping and inquiring into what it is about the situation that produced the protective response. After asking why, also consider asking:
“What am I afraid of?”
As adults, we’re more capable of understanding the circumstances of our past troubles; if we truly want to understand them and no longer play the victim, it is important to own our responses and behaviors. Most reactive behaviors are born from defense.
Self-inquiry is rarely easy, but if we are to unlock more of our potential, self-inquiry is key! Another description for this important key is metacognition, which is the act of thinking about what you think about. When we lose the awareness that our minds are thinking, we are, in essence, lost in thought. To be found, it’s powerful to notice our thinking - and for this key, to notice in particular the thoughts about our past that are negative; especially any beliefs about our past that include the word “should,” such as “that should not have happened.” Notice the judgment. I’m reminded of a saying from Wayne Dyer:
“Don’t should on yourself”- consider your use of the word.
Our past is a key to unlocking our potential in the future. Great potential can remain locked away when we refuse to look more deeply into what happened in the past and consider all the reasons why.
My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. The result was an estrangement from my father for more than 33 years. My personal reactivity is often around that which feels like abandonment; makes sense, doesn’t it? Had I not had the help to ask the big questions and consider his motivations versus mine, we would not have reconciled (12 years ago now). And, without the valuable understanding I received, I may have even repeated the same pattern in my children’s lives. Actually, that journey of discovery, largely led to my professional speaking career, writing, and even the creation of this blog.
An automatic overreaction, in any situation, can be a window into your beliefs about your past. Seeking to find the underlying thought, often producing a fear, and bringing understanding to it, will help you to integrate with clarity that past experience into your present life. Without integration of our past, we can experience disintegration in the present. To the extent we can learn from our past, mining the gold from those experiences, we become more healed, more whole and will stand with more strength and integrity. Not to mention, maybe, more capable of helping others to do the same.
I believe without a doubt, that the primary key to unlock our potential in the future is found in deep work regarding any limiting thoughts about our past. Seek first to understand yourself rather than to be understood by others. If possible, please consider hiring a potential partner to assist in your self-exploration. It can be very difficult to see the picture when you’re in the frame. Developing a trusting relationship with a competent psychologist can significantly help on the journey.
This week consider noticing more than ever, any reactivity in your life. Make note of it, journal it. Ask why is this situation causing me to behave the way I do? Consider what fear might have been provoked - how may the situation be similar to a defining event in your past? And then try to be at peace with not having any quick answers. It takes courage enough to just ask the questions.
Next week we will explore another step on this journey, providing another key for unlocking more of our potential.
Make it a great week!