It’s common practice to look outside ourselves when seeking answers to why life isn’t as good, or happy, or effortless as we think it ought to be, and it’s usually pretty easy to pinpoint the source responsible for keeping us from reaching our awe inspiring potential, or eternal state of bliss. What we think is holding us back, keeping us from getting what we want, getting where we want to go, or becoming the person we know we have the potential to become, seems obvious.

We point to the boss and say he or she isn’t allowing me to do things the way I know is best, or wish our significant other would do this thing or act that way, because then things would be different, and by default, would be better. Or, we treat dating like a game of Whack-A Mole, making judgements about how every person we meet is either too much of this or not enough of that.

Like a police lineup in our head, we can easily identify our main source of sadness, irritability or discontent, point the finger and say, “You, you and YOU!” before launching into a diatribe about all that oppresses us and makes us miserable. We’ve all done it, and so have our friends, family members and co-workers.

But all the ranting, and bitching, and whining, and self-pity is really just a vehicle our minds use to distract us from the real obstacle standing in our way — ourselves.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed this common theme threading through and around my circle of people — many of whom are experiencing some form of life transition or hardship at the moment. They’re talking it out, trying figure out where they went wrong, how to find solutions to their troubles and how not to repeat them. Interestingly, in my conversations with and about these people I’ve found myself either thinking, or saying out loud, “Sometimes you need to get out of your own way.” From an outside perspective it seems so obvious that they are their biggest obstacle, but don’t see it that way, which makes me wonder — if I’m thinking this about other people, how often they are thinking the same thing about me? Immediately my thoughts are abuzz with all the ways I am potentially standing in my own way, holding myself back, missing opportunities that come around and pass right on by, or hanging on to what has outlived all usefulness because I just can’t let it go.

So, how do we recognize when we’re smack in the middle of the forest of the mind, in need of a way out? In all likeliness, someone else will see it long before we will see it in ourselves, but would they tell us? If they tell us, are we open enough to hear it? If we hear it, will we then get out of the way, or continue to be distracted by externalities we have no power to change?

Just a random observation.  ✻


[Image credit: zentilia / 123RF Stock Photo]