Among the personal growth community, conventional wisdom used to be that “fear of failure” holds people back from growing. Later, the collective thinking shifted to “fear of success.” But my mentor Michele Meiche has another thought: “It’s actually fear of stepping beyond the family norms and becoming an outsider…that’s what really gets you!” My vote goes to Michele’s theory on this…
Over the years in my practice, I have seen the same scenario played out a hundred different ways with just as many clients. When people stray outside the social, religious, or financial family belief system—and particularly for women, reject typical female roles such as wife and homemaker in favor of doing something “crazy” like start a business—fear and doubt scare many away from pursuing their unique goals.
Anxiety about family disapproval even comes up with my weight loss clients. Imagine how uncomfortable you might feel being the only healthy person in a family whose lifestyle is built around overeating? Who would support you in eating to live rather than living to eat? Or how about being the first one in the family who aspires to go off to college? If no one else in the house has done this, there’s no one to show you how to get the process started and what to expect. Sadly, jealousy from your relatives may even result in their discouraging you to move forward.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a client who was the first in her family to go to college. She told me this probably wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for her best friend’s mom persuading her to go with her daughter to all those SAT prep classes, and helping her fill out the applications and scholarship forms right alongside her own daughter. “There was no one in my family pushing me to do that because they had no idea how the process worked,” my client revealed. “They just kept complaining about the money and it being a waste of time. My best friend’s mom expected her to go to college…it wasn’t an option. In my family, no one expected much from me, so I had no support from them.” In this young woman’s case, open hostility even surfaced when she was told, “A high school education was good enough for your father, and it’s good enough for you!”
When we go against the expectations of our family, we risk one of the worst kinds of rejection—ostracism from the people we may rely upon, or to whom we feel the closest and most connected. This is a deep and terrifying pain, and many avoid it by holding themselves back so they won’t upset the family or “make dad mad at me.” This core issue is so significant that even clients I’ve worked with who were given up for adoption, feel rejected by the parents they never knew. They still cling to this attitude, even when they are aware their birth parent gave them up in a sprit of love, wanting them to have a better life than they themselves could provide. The conflict we experience when we make choices that challenge our family’s values is especially difficult to overcome because these feelings often lurk in the unconscious mind, and we may not even be aware of them.
Nevertheless, living your life fully is your birthright! Find a mentor, as you will likely need one, do your own research, and know that following your dream will be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things you will ever do. Trust the process, ride out the resistance and self-doubt, but don’t let your “mom’s hurt feelings” block you from reaching for the most amazing life possible. Don’t forget, too, that you will find new friends who will encourage you along the way as you pursue your heart’s desire.
Love and believe in yourself enough to make your own choices, even if that means risking disapproval from those closest to you.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024