Are you on your own journey, or someone else’s?
It feels quite normal for me to start writing with a quote that sums up what I am about to share. I’ve been hearing too much in the last week from people who have suddenly realised that are on someone else’s journey in life and are not living in a way that supports your dreams, potential and individuality. I looked everywhere for a quote and could not find one. Instead I’ll show you what I mean with a story that says it all.
There was a day about 4 months ago when I saw the enormous personal cost a life of giving at the expense of others could cost someone. I was training a small group of executive women and we were reflecting on leadership styles and career progression. One delegate suddenly looked away and turned sheet white. I knew she had something to say so I paused and let her speak. She started expressing how much putting others ahead of herself by literally replacing her own life journey as a backpacker in someone else’s life journey was costing her in self worth, stress, control issues, anxiety and desperation. She said she had tricked herself into believing that “one day” it would be her turn. As she neared her 50th birthday she was questioning whether that day would ever come. What happened in the next forty minutes was a revelation and a powerful circuit breaker.
Taking someone else’s journey instead of your own in characterised by travelling from place to place as a person who participates only passively and plays the role of avid supporter with a difference. The difference usually comes in 2 forms, either a statement that says, “I’ll do what I want to do when everyone else is sorted” or alternatively comes in the form of being over sympathetic to the extent that you feel as though what is happening to the other person is actually happening to you.
This is not an easy place to be with a place of conflict arising from a desire to achieve something for yourself and feeling thwarted by your focus on others. Taking someone else’s journey is sometimes viewed as being another person’s number one supporter, being caring and of service. Other perceived benefits of this approach include having the opportunity to create an excuse as to why your own goals remain unfulfilled. In an emotional, practical, physical and mental sense you are too busy to focus on your own dreams. The bind is not easy.
Being of service to others and sacrificing self interest ahead of others is a theme in humanity that dates back to earliest civilisations. Extensive biblical teachings talk about service being a form of love. This gives some perspective of the depth to which we are committed to equating goodness with service. In the early 1980’s Pip McKay developed a progression of Tad James’ Timeline Therapy and called it Matrix Therapeutic Coaching. In her processes Pip details systems of clearing parental programming and limiting beliefs. These systems are transformational in eliciting the programs and beliefs that may limit a self-full journey in life.
So how can you move toward taking your own journey instead of someone elses? The first step is to recognise and make a list of all of the activities you do on a daily basis that are on strategy with your personal journey. Next write down the activities that you do on a daily basis that you consider someone else’s journey. Add to this list emotional and thinking time spent worrying about other people and their journey. On the third list write down all the things you’d love to be doing and are not doing for whatever reason. Put the 3 lists side by side and get some perspective on balance or imbalance. If your second list dominates the first and your third list is long and unfulfilled, you can safely say you are on someone else’s journey.
What if your list gives you a wake up call? Find a friend or trusted colleague who you can share your realisation with and who may be able to look with empathy at your lists and give you some advice. You may want to consider some sessions with a qualified practitioner of Matrix Therapeutic Coaching.
My almost 50 year old conference delegate was able to prepare her 3 lists and the outcome was as she had thought. This realisation was a powerful first step in enabling her to step back into owning her journey and to creating the boundaries she needed. In this process she was also able to address her self confidence issues with taking her own journey and recognised that part of her behaviour was avoiding her own greatness. She is flying and has lots to celebrate. The change has assisted her so much that she has also been able to shed 10 kg in body fat that she was carrying due to the stress she’d previously put herself under.
As you can see taking the journey of another is common. You may be asking yourself if this is costing you your own freedom and fulfillment? If you feel you may be on someone else’s journey recognising this will be the first step to getting back on your track.
Madelaine Cohen Author
Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader, Certified NLP Trainer (ABNLP), entrepreneur and Master NLP Practitioner Madelaine Cohen. Sharing information and joining forces with people who choose to lead. Madelaine has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing, executive coaching and healthcare. She takes a leading role in mentoring executives and training business leadership in large and small enterprises. Why? Inspire people to lead and together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can lead with even more authenticity and ease, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning. Madelaine welcomes connection & networking so if you have something to ask or share, go for it.