Have you ever felt as if you had a lead weight tied around your ankle? You want to move forward with your life, but it’s as if something super heavy keeps you tethered to the spot where you stand. No matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to make any progress.
That weight isn’t real…at least it’s not physical. You know that.
You imagine it. Specifically, your mind creates your shackle, and that makes it seem real.
The weight that keeps you stuck in place consists of your negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, old stories, and baggage from the past. And, if you aren’t careful, these weights will cause you to sink…as if you were thrown in the water with a physical cement block tied to your ankle.
The Shackled Bird
I was reminded of this recently when I found a finch hanging upside down from the metal arm that holds the hummingbird feeder on my deck. I have a slinky over the metal arm to keep the squirrels from traversing it and chewing on the feeder. Upon a closer look, the bird was actually stuck on the slinky.
I approached the bird expecting it to free itself as it fluttered and attempted to fly away. Then I noticed that it had one foot stuck in a tiny Redwood Tree pinecone. And that pinecone had gotten stuck on the slinky when the bird landed there.
The poor finch was shackled.
How the finch got his foot lodged in that little pinecone, I don’t know. But stuck, he was…and unable to fly away.
He fluttered a bit as I approached and calmed down as I began to un-wedge the pinecone from the slinky. Then, I held onto the pinecone and moved him to the deck railing, where he lay quietly as I carefully broke the pinecone apart so as not to injure his delicate foot. When I managed to pull it apart enough to release his foot, he pulled it out and flew off to a tree in the yard.
That’s when I started thinking about the things that keep us stuck—our shackles.
Yes, the bird had something physical weighing him down—a pinecone. But the release was so fast because he wanted freedom so badly.
You can release yourself just as quickly from your mental and emotional shackles—especially if you want freedom badly.
How to Lose the Mental Weight
If you are ready to lose the mental weight—negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, old stories, and baggage from the past, there are some things you can do. Much like going on a diet, you will need to stick to the process. Commit. Don’t allow yourself to fall back on old habits. (Thought patterns are, indeed, habits.)
Think about what you want. Yes, you can choose what to think about. It seems as if your mind has, well, a mind of its own, but you are the thinker of your thoughts. That means you can take control of the situation and, as a result, change your results.
Try making a list of the things you would like to think about. After all, your thoughts are creative. You can align these positive thoughts with the negative ones you think most.
For instance, if you keep thinking, “I will never lose the 20 pounds I’d like to lose,” choose instead to think, “My body does a fabulous job of metabolizing what I eat” or “I love my body.”
When you become aware that you are thinking a negative thought, simply choose the corresponding positive thought. If that is too complicated, just switch your thoughts to anything pleasant that makes you feel good.
Your beliefs, just like your thoughts, are creating your reality. Look around. Your life is a mirror of what you think, believe, and value. If you don’t like what you see, choose a new belief.
Beliefs are thoughts you have entertained long enough that they seem true. But you can choose to create a new belief. You can believe whatever you want.
Believing that you are not good with money keeps you tethered to scarcity, poverty, and “not enough.” If you want to be free from that belief and experience, choose to believe that you are great with money and have the chance to prove that fact daily. (You do have that opportunity every moment of every day…even if just by choosing new thoughts and beliefs.)
Your mind puts old stories on repeat. That’s why you continually think about your failures, the things you were told about yourself when you were young, or moments that were embarrassing. You even repeat these stories aloud, which gives them more power.
To stop these stories from keeping you tethered in place—and creating the same scenarios and experiences repeatedly, write new stories.
Literally, write a new story…write lots of new stories!
Perhaps, you tell yourself that you are not a good student because you didn’t do well in high school or college. You often repeat the story of your efforts and failure, especially when you are asked to learn something new.
Look at the facts. Maybe you were not interested in your studies because you were preoccupied with your alcoholic parent’s issues. Or possibly you struggled in school due to undiagnosed ADHD. Your new story might include this information and how you overcame these issues. You graduated high school despite the problems at home, or you learned ways to study that helped you live without ADHD meds.
Look for your successes. Write the stories around those. Remember: Your past experiences got you to where you are now. Choose to have it inform the story you tell yourself now to create the future you desire.
If you can’t think of any, then write a story that takes your past and turns it into a strength and opportunity for the future. Write stories that tell the extraordinary tale of how you succeeded, were told you are amazing, and prevailed when challenged. Then read them to yourself—in your mind or aloud—repeatedly. You also can visualize the stories.
As with thoughts and beliefs, your new stories will begin to play out in real life.
Your mind likes to focus on the past—especially negative experiences. But the past is baggage that weighs you down. It’s impossible to move forward fast if you are dragging many heavy suitcases that contain past events, relationships, hurts, failures, and worse.
Plus, that old baggage indicates that you spend your time focused on the past—or are unwilling to leave it behind as you create your future. Stop looking in the rearview mirror all the time. That won’t help you put your foot on the gas and move forward toward your goals and dreams. It just keeps you stuck in place, or, worse, in the past.
Stop looking behind you. Instead, look at where you are right now. Be present. From the present, look out the windshield toward the future. Focus on where you are going now.
Each time you find yourself looking backward, take note of what you see. Then imagine putting whatever is behind you in a garbage bag, tying the sack tightly, and leaving it by the side of the road. (Or put it in a dumpster.)
Then, place your hands on the wheel—You are in control!—and your foot on the gas and drive away. Leave the past where it belongs…in the past.
Key to Moving Forward Freely
To speed up your efforts to free yourself and move forward freely and with less weight holding you back, do two more things.
First, be the type of person who would have those positive thoughts, supportive beliefs, and powerful stories. Be the person who is forward-looking and free of baggage.
How would that person look, act, or feel? Show up as that person every day.
Second, commit to making the changes necessary to free yourself from the weight that holds you back. Don’t let yourself off the hook! Every day, take the actions that move you forward.
Change can happen in an instant, but for most people, it takes a bit of time. I didn’t free the little finch in one second. It took a few moments as well as care, focus, effort, and commitment.
Like the finch, be willing to receive support and help. And be kind to yourself as you drop the weights around your ankles. Stay committed, and take consistent action. Before you know it, you’ll be free.
How are you removing the weights that hold you back? Tell me in a comment below. And if you know anyone else who could use a challenge, please share this post with them.
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