Are These Three Words Holding You Back?

Do you ever have moments where you realize you’ve been thinking backwards? And all that backward thought is, well, holding you back?

The other day I wasn’t feeling particularly well: I had recently gotten over the flu but was still struggling with bouts of tiredness and nausea. After cancelling plans with an understanding friend, I spent the afternoon resting

Later, I felt well enough to clean the kitchen but found myself scrubbing the counter in a barrage of negativity. As I scoured a particularly sticky spot, I began berating myself for just resting instead of doing something. “See, I feel okay now. I should have just gone out – I would have been fine. Resting was a waste of time.”

But then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me: what if I didn’t feel better in spite of resting? What if I felt better because of resting?

In other words, what if resting wasn’t a total waste of time? What if it was the actual cause of me feeling better?

This ah-ha moment might seem totally obvious to most, but if you spend most of your life trying to be as productive as possible, it’s a total game-changer.

What if the thing you think has held you back is actually the thing that’s gotten you to where you are today?

Several years ago, an award-winning movie came out about a little girl being raised by a father with learning disabilities. She’s a beautiful, smart, capable little girl, and the authorities intervene to take her away when they realize how much responsibility she has. But then someone suggests: what if that little girl is the way that she is, not in spite of her father’s situation, but because of it? What if she is such a lovely girl precisely because she has had so much responsibility–the very thing they think is burdening her?

What if we started looking at our own past – and our own present – this way?

What if the hindrance is actually the cause?

Instead of: I am well enough to clean in spite of having rested.

Maybe: I am well enough to clean because I have rested

Instead of: I advanced in my work in spite of a difficult boss.

Maybe: I advanced in my work because of a difficult boss (who forced me to work especially hard).

Instead of: I am gaining new opportunities in spite of being at home with my children.

Maybe: I am gaining new opportunities because of being at home with my children (which pushes me to be creative about how to connect with others better).

What if the things we think of as hurdles are actually catalysts for us getting to where we want to be?

What about you? Is there a small phrase or way of thinking that’s holding you back?