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How Your Psychological Blind Spots Keep You Stuck in Life

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Sometimes, life doesn’t seem to make any sense. Albert Einstein once said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Here’s the funny thing. We will say that line about someone else, have a good chuckle, and then DO THE SAME THING OURSELVES! This time, it’s not that funny, is it? I know. I’ve done it myself.

I will be sharing 3 examples of seemingly paradoxical behaviour from people who have been in my private practice. (Of course, I have changed the names and some of the demographics to respect their confidentiality).  

  • Tom complains about how he has never had any money and then proceeds to order in for the 4th time that week.
  • Bev tells me how there are no more good men out there in the world. However, weeks later, she tells me about laughing flirtatiously when a guy was mocking other people at the party, and who is now mocking her laugh and some of her physical features.    
  • Alexa, a business owner, spends $3000 on a marketing course but then continues to spend too much time and charge too little for her services and never gets to the new clients she attracted with the marketing methods she learned with the course.

On the surface it would seem like these people are “insane” according to Einstein’s definition. But as I have seen in my psychotherapy practice for the last 12 years, these are not atypical stories. In fact, I have seen this seemingly contradictory behaviour in friends, family, colleagues and so many others that it cannot be insanity. It is indeed a human condition.     

So, what the heck is going on here?

Well, things become a little clearer when you look below the surface. There are actually two different behaviours at work here. One, the subconscious, is acting on fears experienced years before, often in childhood. These subconscious behaviours and underlying fears are often maintained through life unless they are dealt with in adulthood. I call these patterns people’s psychological blind spots.  

The other behaviour is based on what our rational conscious brain sees. It interprets what it sees or doesn’t see in the present moment and comes to a conclusion based on reason.  

Now, let’s go back and review the 3 cases with these two different perspectives:

  • Tom grew up seeing his parents constantly living on credit card debt for years and just complaining about it daily. He told me he was seriously afraid of ending up on the streets. As a child, buying something would temporarily distract him from his biggest fear. Tom’s conscious brain doesn’t see what the subconscious brain sees and rationalizes his overspending by saying, “Why shouldn’t I enjoy my life too?”
  • Bev was often not even “seen” in her family of six siblings and she grew up believing that she was unlovable. She noticed that when she was dating someone, that fear was briefly abated. So, she subconsciously lowered her standards for the men she sought because any relationship was better than being alone, or so she thought. Bev’s conscious logical brain continues to rationalize or explain away “bad behaviour” early in her relationships. It says things like, he was short with me because he is under a lot of pressure at work.   
  • Alexa was deeply affected by her parents’ constant arguments and eventual divorce when she was seven years old. She felt responsible for their divorce and believed she just wasn’t good enough as she was. She noticed that when she did things for her father, he would briefly pay attention to her. So, she became the ‘Pleaser’ in the family. She grew up subconsciously feeling that she was unworthy when she wasn’t making someone else happy. This has carried over into her business relationships as she overextends herself and thereby, devalues herself with clients. On the other hand, her conscious brain tells her that she has to treat her clients well or they will tell others about her poor service. 

So, now that you understand how to explain the seemingly contradictory behaviour, how do you reconcile these two radically different perspectives? What can you do about it when you get stuck and come up against a pattern you can’t seem to shake?

There is a new way to approach these challenges in life. I call it your True Self way. I define your True Self as the one you are in when you feel inner peace or fully engaged or in the flow. Your True Self sees its own strengths and weaknesses and accepts and loves all of itself. And it is able to be open and vulnerable enough to admit them. It is curious and connects well with others. It is your most balanced self. Everyone has moments when they are in their True Self. It does take practice to learn how to get into this state at will.

“Everything can be taken from a man, but the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitudes in any given set of circumstances.” –Viktor Frankl

Let’s look at how your True Self would approach each of the situations above:

  • Tom’s True Self understands his subconscious fears and takes responsible action. For enjoyment, he goes bike riding but also gets on a schedule to start paying down his debt. 
  • Bev’s True Self appreciates her subconscious fears and begins to love her inner wounded child who feels unlovable. In addition, she starts to watch the actions men take early on in the relationship and assume those actions represent who he really is.
  • Alexa’s True Self understands the Pleaser part and aligns with it by beginning to please herself first, and others second. Now, she is not only satisfying her clients in a fair way, she is also satisfying herself and growing her company.

For many people, it can come as a revelation to finally understand why you keep making the same mistake over and over again or keep coming up against a brick wall and can’t seem to take your business to the next level. No, you are not insane. And no, you are not alone. Most people run some sort of “self-sabotaging’ pattern in their life and most of those people can’t see it. It’s often difficult to see your own subconscious patterns. It’s like trying to see your own back.

When you begin to align your conscious and subconscious beliefs and behaviours, your life and business begin to make sense. You will feel like you are waking up from a semi-comatose state. You will feel more energized and connected to others. You will also make decisions quicker because you are more focused and clearer about what you really want. You will get unstuck and begin making real progress, maybe for the first time in your life. And that will probably be the sanest thing you can do.  

As former Chief of the Emergency Department, Dr. Sam Gerstein saw the toll work stress takes on people’s health. After over 20 years in the ER, he pivoted his practice to psychotherapy to focus on the total Mind-Body. In the last 12 years he has helped entrepreneurs-at-heart to first manage their work stress and burnout, and then guided them to move out of dissatisfying jobs and discover and start their own custom-fit businesses.In his highly acclaimed book, Live Your Dreams: Doctor's Orders, (with foreword by Jack Canfield), Dr. Sam highlights 40 stories of people who overcame their fears to start their own businesses. As a Business Strategy Coach, he has now created online programs to help even more entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-at-heart overcome their psychological blocks that have been preventing them from successfully pursuing their own side hustles and businesses.

Life

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Life

Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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Life

3 Business Optimization Strategies That Create a Fulfilled Life

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The balance between life and business is an interesting conundrum. There are articles, books, podcasts, and videos that talk about the need for work-life balance. The reality is that the balance has to be specific to your situation, and it’s a lifelong process to attain. Business leaders should be more focused on optimization strategies that create freedom in an enjoyable way. (more…)

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