The Real Reason You Feel Too Overwhelmed To Work On Your Goals
What are your dreams?
Not the random collection of thoughts that your brain processes while you sleep—I'm talking about your biggest aspirations and goals. Maybe you've had them since you were a kid. They're the wild achievements that you fantasize about privately.
You know you are here to do great and wonderful things. You can see yourself running a successful business, living out your true purpose while helping others, or perhaps you want to regain the confidence you had in your youth, when you were happier about the person in the mirror.
Whatever that dream might be, you're still finding yourself stuck. Every time you try to motivate yourself to work on your big goals, real life gets in the way. Life feels full, and you're being pulled in a thousand different directions. At the same time, you're frustrated feeling that you're not living your purpose. You may not have a distinct picture of your dreams, but you feel you don't have time to figure out your true passions.
First of all, know that these feelings are completely normal and acceptable. Some of the highest achievers in the world go through the same experiences. For some, it's a daily struggle.
So how do you stop feeling overwhelmed by all the "real-life" stuff that prevents you from designing life on your own terms?
There is an answer, but it's not what you might think. The usual advice on this topic generally involves some mix of meditation, priming, green juice, walking up at 4:30 a.m., and gratitude—all great things, but not the be-all-end-all answers, in my experience.
I'm not saying those practices are bad. Applying even one of them to your daily life will probably have a positive outcome, and they may even help people ultimately achieve their goals. But for many people out there, these are temporary, surface-level fixes that treat the symptoms rather than the root cause. For these people, the core reason they're feeling overwhelmed and floundering, or like there's simply not enough time in the day to do what they want to do, boils down to one oft-overlooked factor: unhealed emotional trauma.
The first step is to rethink what you consider emotional trauma.
Emotional trauma creates internal blocks that stop you from designing your dream life and connecting with your true passions. Most likely, it stems from a past circumstance or situation. Unsure if you've experienced emotional trauma? Remember: Experiences that can cause emotional trauma can range from larger life events (such as a death in the family or domestic abuse) to smaller recurrences (like your parents being five minutes late picking you up from school all the time and you unconsciously starting to fear abandonment over time). Soul-sucking jobs or relationships are also common causes of emotional trauma.
Over time, the emotional trauma becomes woven into the fabric of who you are. Like a bad smell, you become so accustomed to the emotional trauma blocking the pursuit of your life's purpose that you don't even notice it.
Those blocks manifest themselves in your life as survival patterns. These are the patterns that make you feel stuck, like you don't have the time or energy to live your purpose. They use fear, the most powerful human emotion, to keep you trapped where you are while life speeds by.
But before you decide to give up, before you feel like it's just not worth trying anymore, before you make the decision to put your dreams on the shelf, know this: You are enough. You have what it takes. You can enjoy abundance in every area of your life and fill your days with joy, passion, and energy.
You just have to get beyond the deeply buried past experiences that are generating your negative patterns.
To get yourself "unstuck" and start doing what you want to do in life, you have to address this emotional trauma.
You have to confront this fear head-on. You have to understand where it comes from and why it's there. Only then can you permanently eradicate this fear and reach the financial, professional, and personal goals that will unlock your dream life.
Luckily, there's a way you can do just that. Through a process called "trauma hacking," you can uncover the real reasons that you're struggling to find the time to work on your true purpose—either discovering it or working toward an existing vision. Here are five steps to help you get started working on your unhealed emotional trauma right away:
1. Identify the behavior you want to change.
Every person has at least a few behavior patterns that they carry out unconsciously. This could be pushing our loved ones away when we really need comfort, seeking out the type of guy to date that you know is bad for you, overspending money, or turning to unhealthy habits like bingeing on alcohol or sugar.
And don't think only about physical actions—consider how you react emotionally to common situations or challenges in your personal and professional life. What is your internal dialogue? When you step back and observe yourself, you may be surprised by what you see.
2. Evaluate how this behavior has kept you safe.
Think about whether your responses to common challenges in your life are really effective solutions or are simply a result of you not wanting to address the root cause of these challenges. Many people default to feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness instead of facing the deeper emotional damage causing these feelings. Ask yourself: Why do you turn to this behavior? When did you start doing it? Where did it come from?
3. Re-evaluate the threat level.
While all coping patterns are unhealthy to some degree, not all of them are life-threatening. To get the most out of your efforts to heal emotional trauma, start by addressing the patterns that put you in immediate danger, such as abusing drugs, alcohol, or food.
4. Create an environment to support who you're becoming.
Your environment matters so much when working on your emotional trauma. For many years, people were encouraged to suppress these issues—but this isn't the perspective you need when working on emotional damage. Be open about who you are and who you are trying to become. You want to set up your personal and professional surroundings to facilitate this transition to the best of your abilities. Try to get rid of triggers that will lead you back to the same old coping patterns.
5. Fast track—find a mentor, tribe, and support system.
You should have people around you who make you feel safe and loved. The emotional trauma healing process can leave you feeling vulnerable, so be sure to have at least one dependable source for support as you work on overcoming your emotional blocks. You should also seek a mentor, someone who has achieved the kind of transition you're striving for.
The nice thing about social media and the internet is you don't even need to be physically near these people for them to provide guidance and lift you up when you're struggling. A group like this will significantly speed up the healing process, compared to trying to fix your emotional trauma alone.
6. Perhaps most importantly, be intentional.
When you begin to embark on this journey, make sure you are truly ready and willing to change your behavior to match the goal you desire. Really commit to getting out there, taking action, and making it real. Find gratitude for the struggle—that alone will take you far.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.