“I was a bird trapped inside a cage that I thought I’d been released from, still confined and limited to where I could fly. I’d been holding up my umbrella to avoid the rain but I never stopped the rain from falling.”
― Arti Manani, Seven Sins
“We are tamed animals (some with kind, some with cruel, masters) and should probably starve if we got out of our cage. That is one horn of the dilemma. But in an increasingly planned society, how much of what I value can survive? That is the other horn.”
― C.S. Lewis, Some Everyday Thoughts
“You, over there.
You, who’s always looking
over his neighbour’s fence.
The beauty of this world is wasted on you.
I say, the beauty of this world
is wasted on you.
You use your eyes to cast disapproving looks.
You use your tongue to degrade and denigrate.
And worst of all, you use your dirty hands
to reach into pockets,
thinking happiness is found
But happiness is the bird
that will never fly near you,
because it knows your desire to cage it—
like you do with everything else.
You cage love so two men can’t share it.
You cage hope because you can’t stand faith.
And you cage God so people think darkness
is all there is.
But the only thing you’ve successfully caged
is your petty mind.
I need you to know one thing:
There will never be a cage to confine
We, here, we are free.
Free to dream.
Free to love.
And free to be
who we want to be.”
― Kamand Kojouri, God, Does Humanity Exist?
On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in cages of self-doubt and intense fear.
- They want to date but fear getting hurt.
- They long to quit their day job to pursue their passion but fear failure.
- They yearn for connection but fear rejection.
- Imagining the worst possible outcome. “I will get fired if the presentation has any glitches.”
- Imagining what others are thinking. “I know he doesn’t like working with me because he thinks I’m dumb.”
- Imagining what the future holds, but without data. “They will all hate me in the new group because I’m the only one who isn’t a physicist.”
- Considering only two possible outcomes. “I’ll either hit a home run or get fired.”
- Painting all situations with a generalized outcome. “I presented to the CEO last year, and it didn’t go well. I never get things right or always fail when it comes to executive audiences.”
Do you feel trapped by your current position in life?
Imagine, if you will, that you are in a cage. The cage defines your world and keeps you where you are. You often dream about life outside of the cage, but you remain stuck in it.
What you don’t realize is that the door to the cage is open. All you have to do is walk out. But you are so adapted to the cage and the boundaries it sets for you that walking out of the cage, on your own volition, doesn’t even occur to you.
In order to break free you need a Mindset Shift. Here below are some thoughts for you to consider:
Remind yourself that you are enough
Do not give self-doubt permission to run your life. Focus more on what you have than what you’re lacking and play up to your strengths.
Face your fears instead of running from them
The more you run from your fears the further you distance yourself from your destiny. Allow yourself to feel the fear but move in the direction of the goal.
Own YOUR Fears
This concept has proven so powerful for me. When I realized that I HAVE thoughts and emotions, but I am NOT my thoughts and emotions, I create the ability to separate from them, so I can look at them from a distance.
- “If I get a divorce…I will be alone for the rest of my life, my kids will be screwed up, and I will never find love again.”
- “If I say, “No” or set a boundary…people won’t like me, they will think I am mean, I won’t be included.”
- “If I allow myself to love…I will be hurt.”
You need to separate the facts of the situation from the story you wrap around it. It’s not the facts but the sad stories, negative meanings, and limiting interpretations that we wrap around the facts that keep us frozen in fear. And here’s the thing. All the stories, meanings, and interpretations are all made up…they are False Evidence Appearing Real. So if you want to create a new ending, you need to learn to bust your fears, separate facts from the fiction, and focus on the facts.
Ask a friend
It can help to talk to someone outside of your own brain, to help rationalise some of that negative chatter.
Perhaps ask your manager for a one-on-one so you can get some proper feedback, if you’ve been left to wonder whether you’re getting it all wrong.
Or, chat with a friend entirely outside of your workplace, so you can talk them through what’s happening and they can provide a more distanced view – which will often be something along the lines of ‘nope, you’re not rubbish, it sounds like you’re doing great but are perhaps just overworked’.
Embrace Doubt and Fear As Part of Being Human
As you think about the things you’d most love to achieve or change in your life right now, just know that self-doubt and fear is there to protect you from the humiliation of falling flat on your face. Far better than beating up on your inner critic is to befriend it; to acknowledge that it’s just trying to keep you safe and spare you humiliation. Embracing self-doubt and fear as an intrinsic part of the human experience is crucial to reclaiming the power it has held over you… until now.
Make the choice to have your greatness be bigger than your fear.
Ultimately our fears are our fears. If we could get rid of them we would. Some fears tend to dissipate with time and consciousness. Others might not. If we could take a magic pill or exorcise them from our body, we would. But just because they are there does not mean they have to be in the driver’s seat! We can choose to live outside of our fears. Very simply, our lives are a reflection of our choices. Realizing that in every moment we have the ability to be guided by faith over fear, to trust over trepidation and decisiveness over doubt, and to makes choices guided by our grandest desires instead of our tendency to play small is our ticket to freedom. Chances are, there are some fears that you might not be able to “get rid of” but you do have the power to make the choices to not let them control and define your life.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” My friends, if you feel trapped, I invite you join me in breaking out of your cage of fear and self doubt, and allow your desire for greatness to be bigger than your fear and self doubt!