Vincendum Est

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

Every day, most humans are faced with choices, many of which are about making changes, taking on new directions, starting new journeys, facing up to problems, communicating honestly with each other, finding better ways to live. What are some of the mental barriers that keep us from taking on the things we want to do in our lives? What keeps us from choosing a better way?

A) Fear of Failure
Perhaps the most common - our sense that because there is a chance we will not succeed at the changes we want to make, we should not try to make them in the first place. It's safer that way, and saves time, energy, disappointment, loss.

B) Fear of Success
When we think about the changes we could make, the better ways we could live, we can become overwhelmed at the thought of not being where we are right now. To give up what we know (and think we are comfortable with) is already difficult, but the prospect of a cascade effect - a successful change that requires even more change - can keep us putting off those choices forever.

C) Fear of Mediocrity
Whether our standards are too high or too low, there is always the chance that things won't turn out like we think they should, and that our choices will create a situation that isn't much better or worse than where we were before. If we try something new that we think we'll enjoy, and it turns out not to be so great, what does that say about our own sense of self, our understanding of what we're capable of? Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right? So we don't take on anything we aren't 100% sure we can do 100% well.

D) Opportunity Costs
If I spend my time making changes and taking action, and it doesn't pan out, what else have I missed out on? Maybe the current path I'm on is just about to take me in an exciting, rewarding new direction! Oh sure, I'll make choices that change my life for the better at some point, but right now I've just got to see how this plays out, so I don't miss anything that I've already been hoping and working for.

E) The Universe Won't Allow It
I'll never have the money. I'll let down my co-workers. I'll disappoint my parents. I'm probably not meant to go that direction, or I would have already. Better people than me are going to get there first. I don't have enough time. It's selfish of me to want that. It's just a dream, not something that could actually happen. I'm too old. I'm too young. I don't know enough to get started. I need to go to school first. If it's not broken, don't fix it. I have to do the dishes first. I have to go to work.

Where did we go so wrong that our default mode of thinking is to come up with reasons why we can't be happy, can't have the things we really want in life? When did we pledge our allegiance to the path of least resistance? Do we think so poorly of ourselves that we cannot see ourselves living out a different story, a better story, for our lives?

Vincendum est. It must be conquered.

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