I was inspired to write this after watching a past episode of Marie TV where she talked about times when we are told our dreams are “too big”. I’ve been a dreamer all my life. This worried my mother, who’s one constant refrain to me was “Come down to Earth!”. I know she was worried I’d be disappointed, but her worry created in me self-doubt.
At times, my dreams and expectations are, indeed, unrealistic. Those times always begin with incorrect assumptions on my part that I haven’t verified – often haven’t even considered. For example, as a kid, I spent one full summer turning the clay of the Alberta prairies into bowls and pots, sun baked and water-colored. My brother and I worked in tandem – he spent his days digging tunnels, creating a maze of ‘forts”, and I gladly re-purposed his leftover clay. Unknown to either of us – because we hadn’t considered it – was the inherent crumbliness of clay: his tunnels and forts could only work if confined to a relatively small area, being, in fact, shored up by the rest of the field. We also didn’t consider the hundreds of Prairie Dogs, who habitually dug through constructed clay walls, weakening the structure. So, if you haven’t guessed by now, the entire infrastructure collapsed one day – fortunately with no one inside. And that was the end of that enterprise. A little forethought could have saved us a lot.
That was a fun experience, and I remember it that way (kids would not likely have a chance of doing something like that these days). But other more recent ones weren’t fun – like the time I misjudged a contractor because I thought he came recommended but discovered – too late – that the person who referred him had been paid to do so. My focus had been on what I wanted and what I was going to do with it, and it blinded me to the incorrect or incomplete assumptions I made going in, and upon which everything else was based. Those kinds of experiences made me doubt myself – maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew; maybe I was indeed dreaming too big. But the truth is that I wasn’t dreaming too big; the truth was that I didn’t actually have enough trust in myself, and relied on others when it wasn’t justified. Until I learnt that lesson, I kept spoiling my own dreams. One friend called this jumping in without looking.
That’s what I did. That isn’t the only way you can feed self-doubt. Another way is to listen to the nay-sayers that are going to be around whenever you dream big.
The best way to learn to trust yourself is to reality-check your dreams and assumptions. Marie suggests 5 very practical steps to do this:
- Frame your dream or expectation. Write it down, because the simple act of writing it down means that you are 40% more likely to achieve it.
- Fend off negativity. Take responsibility for the energy you allow in your life; often we focus on one negative voice instead of the many positive ones. Allow positive reinforcement, throwing out that one toxic negative voice among the many. The only opinions that matter are from those who know us, who we admire, and who’ve been where we’re going.
- Flood yourself with positive, inspiring examples. There are so many people who have achieved their dreams, and for most people around them, their dreams were “impossible”.
- Fast forward. And listen to that elder you’ll become some day. One big regret of people who are on their deathbed is that they didn’t live the life that was true to themselves but instead lived the life others expected of them.
- Focus on action. The action step is the step that will move you past fear and into your dreams.
- And I’ll add one more: check your assumptions. Write them down and then verify them. You might save yourself much heartache, and instead ensure the fruition of your dream.
Dreaming, especially dreaming big, doesn’t mean you’re head’s in the clouds, but it does mean you need to make sure you can make them real, and for that learning to trust yourself and base your actions on solid ground is essential.
Dare to dream – Diana Nyad
Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org