I have been battling an almost paralyzing disease of the “if onlys.” “If only I had enough money in my business to buy that program, then my business would prosper.” Or “If only I wasn’t so distracted by my family, I would have more time to write.” Or “If only my health were better, I could concentrate and write faster.” I found myself focusing on things outside of myself I couldn’t control, when in reality, my mindset was what I needed to focus on. Wow, where were these if only’s coming from? This limiting mindset had to go!
Could some of my limiting mindsets be from my past? What things in my story, past and present, impact my current mindset ? In a class, I am taking, we have been writing about our childhood stories.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Why You Should Write Your Memoir, Even If Nobody Will Read It The act of writing about traumatic or difficult events can reduce stress, lessen depression and improve cognitive functioning, according to researchers. Several studies have even shown such writing to improve the function of the immune system.
Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.
Start with Your Story Awareness
For me, when I looked at my story, I realized I had picked up an “if only” mindset from an incident 15 years ago that had carried over until now.
The incident involved a boss I was working with at the time. I prided myself in getting along with everyone. I was the “perfect employee”. I was amenable, helpful, and kind. However, in this case, that perfect person wasn’t good enough for this boss.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t please her. As I look back on this time period, this shook me to my core and I shut down. I withdrew from the situation. I didn’t know how to handle conflict well and the more I withdrew, the more harsh she became. I went into a depression during those two years and finally had to retire early from my position, as it became untenable.
I had so many “if onlys” going on in my head – if only she understood me, if only she could listen, if only we could discuss things reasonably, if only she would move to a different building. The situation left me with deep shame, since I couldn’t “fix” things and she didn’t “like” me.
Over the past fifteen years, I have had similar situations where I couldn’t be “perfect” and I would get anxious and then would withdraw. I kept looking away from myself to blame others for the issues I was facing. My mindset of the “if onlys”, unworthiness and looking outside myself kept tripping me up. It created a deep, brain rut in my mind- a similar thought pattern every time I came up to something I thought I couldn’t do or fix.
Discover Your Limiting Mindsets
Then, during my spiritual direction training, I discovered the Ennegram profile types. The Ennegram profile types offer a way to discover our true selves in discovering God and to find more of God in finding more of ourselves. The Ennegram gave me amazing insights and compassion about how I see myself, others and God. I found that pride was my tripping point and that looking out to others to empathize was both my strength and my downfall.
By so much focus on others, I didn’t know myself in the process. I found a way to change my if onlys limiting mindset to what ifs possibilities within myself I am slowly accepting that I have worth, in and of myself, not what I give to get from others. I am God’s Beloved, no matter what.
Has that happened to you? When focusing on others, you can lose yourself in the process.
As I have travelled this journey of getting to know myself, helped much by the book, The Road Back to You, I have realized how deeply embedded shame is in my brain so that I keep sabotaging myself in thinking what I am doing is not good enough.
What About You?
Shame has to be exposed and talked about and not kept in the darkness. Telling and writing your story along with exploring the Enneagram can help you become aware of where those limiting mindsets are hiding.
Your story can become a what if possibility story, too. I hope as I share parts of my own story, you’ll begin to explore your own story and look for where shame, or fear, or anger may be lurking in the dark. How can you begin to write your story and build awareness of your limiting mindset?
As a life coach and writer of stories, I would love to join you in your journey as you explore your story. Discover how God will change your if onlys limiting mindset to what if possibilities. With God, nothing is impossible.
This article was first published in Publishous, November, 2017. You can follow additional encouragement writings on living a well-nourished life at https://medium.com/@nancybooth03.
Nancy Booth is a certified life coach. I love creating safe spaces for you as you go through life’s transitions to discover and support your vision for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope. I write about taming the overwhelm and finding ways to live the well-nourished life, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you! You can sign up to receive my weekly blog or contact me It’s time to explore possibilities of what your well-nourished life could look like.