When will you be ready for leaping over your shadow? What are you allowing to get in the way of what you really want? Deep down you already know you what it is, don’t you?
Leaping over your shadow (Audio)
How often have you “jumped over your own shadow”? You know, recognized or become aware of a personal obstacle and then mustered the courage to “lick it” once and for all? Can you recall a few big ones for you? Some were quite tough to master and quite confronting, weren’t they? Some might still be there, seemingly too long a shadow to manage a jump, right? And what about those where you felt the fear but did it Anyway…? You know, when you had become aware of a demon that had been holding you back for so long and deprived you of so much, and then figured out what it would take to “leap over it”? And then leapt. Successfully. Wasn’t the taste of that victory so sweet?
Great metaphor isn’t it?
A shadow is created when we “stand in the way of the light”, which in the context of this article is akin to “standing in the way of ourselves”. We make our own shadows. Most of them we can see. Some lurk beneath the surface. Some only others can see – we are blind to them and dependent on the quality of our relationship as to whether they share those observations with us or not.
Leaping over your shadow: reality or perception?
Is it real or is it just a shadow? Isn’t that the same as asking whether it is just a Beliefs (made in the head) or is it a real obstacle? A perception instead of reality? Funny things obstacles. Yet isn’t it the obstacles we had to overcome on the road to success what makes the outcome so much more valuable?
I thought Booker T Washington said it beautifully in his quote: “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which we have had to overcome while trying to succeed”.
Smart Alec’s will quickly point out that you can’t jump over your own shadow, because it “jumps with you”. They are right. And, if you allow yourself to focus on that interpretation of the metaphor, then you can use it as an excuse, so that you don’t need to make any changes. That’s the safe option, preventing you from failing, and unfortunately, also keeping you from some significant breakthroughs you could have believed you might actually achieve en route to the success you aspire to, but didn’t have the courage (yet) to pursue. If that is your position, then you might as well stop reading this blog right now.
So what is it going to take?
In my journey so far and also from close to 1000 hours of coaching I would suggest a few of the following steps may assist:
- It will necessitate our making a decision that “enough is enough”. That it is “only” a shadow, and that it is possible to jump over it. We may want to share the fact that “it is time to do this” with someone we trust that can support us while holding us accountable to doing what it takes.
- It will certainly take us getting out of The Comfort Zone. Some will take some Dealing with Fear. Most will take courage.
- It will take awareness. That we own up to admitting that there is a demon. That we find a way of recognizing that the demon is “made in the head”; that it is “just a thought”; a figment of our mind; (that as Eckhart Tolle says: “we are not our thoughts”); that it isn’t necessarily real; that it may well just be a perception, a belief. And that with the right help we can overcome it. And that as such it can be replaced with a more supportive or sustaining belief.
- In my blog The Price and the Prize I wrote that change can often be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the prize just doesn’t seem to be worth the price, and we give up trying and just continue to tolerate the status quo. This is also often an area we land in when in the coaching conversation. It is one of those incisive questions coaches are renowned for asking: “when is the pain of staying the same going to become bigger than the pain (or fear) of making the change”?
- Often it will necessitate our “stepping back” to give ourselves the space to look at our current situation or obstacle differently. In Using “the Gap” to reframe yourself I wrote about how we might allow ourselves to find ways of looking at the same problem or obstacle from a different perspective; in ways that we might not have looked at it before. Like: “what if this weren’t a problem right now?” How might you look at it then?
This is probably one of the greatest values of working with a coach – having a “third party” thinking partner and a sounding board alongside you that isn’t emotionally involved but committed exclusively to your agenda and that can provide you with so many additional perspectives. More importantly however, we will help hold you accountable so that you can’t “cop out” or “slip back”.
- In that space, we might also consider who might have already “licked” similar demons, and engineer ways to find out how they did it. Most people are happy to share their experiences, painful as they sometimes may have been, because they have Empathy with what you might be going through.
Leaping versus jumping
Why do I refer in this blog to leap and not just jump over the shadow? Well, a leap usually needs much more energy – more resolve, but when we leap we have Momentum preventing us from “chickening out”. We become unstoppable. Think about it. What if you weren’t able to stop yourself anymore? What If you knew you couldn’t fail? Wouldn’t that blow this perceived obstacle right out of the water and into the open? Blowing away any fear? Leaving you with just the necessary courage and then the magnificent result?
Go on, have a think: what is one big thing that is holding you back? Maybe it has been a demon for you for years? One that makes your stomach turn? That makes you cringe that you have allowed it for so long to hold you back? Maybe you have Goosebumps as you think of it right now?
What could you achieve or breakthrough if you were able to pick that one obstacle right now, deal with it and let it go?
What if you were to engage a coach to help you work though it and find some ways of dealing with it? What if you could?