For me, it was the belief that I was not deserving of success.
But it took me a while to figure out that this is what was actually holding me back.
Close to thirteen years ago, I was in Italy on a business trip with one of my former corporate clients with whom I had a great relationship. We got along exceptionally well not only on a professional basis but also on a personal level, and I recall that one evening as we were driving from the office in Belluno to Venice for the following days meeting, we began discussing life in general.
As we opened up about our various experiences in life, I remember saying to her that I felt that something bad was going to happen to me. She asked me what I was talking about, and I responded that I was due to get married to my long term boyfriend, we were buying a beautiful apartment in West London and that we had just gotten two kittens, and that although I should feel happy, I felt worried. I felt that after years of paying off student loans and climbing the corporate ladder that life was finally coming together, and now that it was coming together the rug would be pulled out from under me and I would lose it all.
Not long after that, I came home from another business trip and asked my then-boyfriend, and now husband Ben, if he had ever felt like something bad was going to happen to him. He looked at me confused and replied no and asked me to elaborate. I told him that life felt like it was going too well, and I couldn’t enjoy feeling content because I felt like “external factors” would come into play and take it all away from me. He looked at me incredulously and responded that neither of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths, we had worked hard and therefore we deserved everything that we had worked for.
DESERVED being the operative word.
I realised that up until that point, I did not think that I deserved success. All the while that I was struggling to pay off student loans and save up money for the deposit on our apartment, I felt normal and okay - because I associated the feeling of struggle with being normal. Being successful was a new feeling for me, and so I struggled to believe that I deserved success. Hence my fear that I was going to lose it all.
Recognising that I am worthy and deserving of success was a significant barrier for me to overcome. Primarily because I used to compare and contrast society problems to my own life and as a result I would feel guilty for my own success. Guilt from my Catholic school days circulated continuously in my mind… there are starving children in Africa… there are homeless people…there are so many disadvantaged people.How come I get to be so lucky?
Ultimately after a great deal of work on myself, I came to realise that I was not enlightening myself or anyone else by feeling guilty and refusing to enjoy my successes. In fact, if anything, I could use my experience and success to help others.
I am telling you this story because the deep unconscious beliefs which we have about ourselves and our self-worth are the missing pieces that hold us back from pursuing our dreams. We need to take the time to understand what these unconscious beliefs are so that we can create a path forward.
So, I return to my original question, what is the most significant barrier that stops you from pursuing your dreams?