Starting when you were young and throughout your life you’ve made a significant number of life-changing choices. Some decisions were consciously made, and others were made subconsciously.

“I’ll never be vulnerable in front of a group again!

“So much for asking for what I REALLY want – screw that!

“I want to be just like Dad so I’ll go into engineering.

“People feel threatened and hurt when I shine, so I better not let anyone see what I can really do.

“I feel powerful and capable when I criticize others, so I’d better keep doing that or else they’ll see how inadequate I really feel.

“If I keep blaming others and pointing out the dark places in them, it helps me avoid owning my own shadow that I’m not ready to deal with just yet.

These kinds of choices we may have made early on were essentially instinctual reactions to either avoid pain or approach reward.  It’s what our psyches do to keep us safe, sane and alive, which in itself is a worthy goal.

Yet as you’ve noticed over time, when we want to make a larger contribution in the world these early choices and behaviors start to feel stale and claustrophobic.

As a change agent you’ve felt the longing to honor the calling of your heart and soul. But how often does a “Yes, but” feeling stop you?

I always wanted to figure out how to heal this condition, both for myself and for all who suffer from it, but I feel clueless

“I just know there’s inspirational music inside of me, but I haven’t played an instrument since I was a child

“I’ve been sensing for a few years now that there’s more I could do for my clients, but I just don’t know what’s missing …”

“If we could find a way to inexpensively provide clean water and power to third world countries it would solve so many problems, but I feel helpless in the face of the magnitude of the need …”

These subconscious approach/avoid reactions will stop us in our tracks every time and keep us from pursuing the calling of our dreams. If we can’t shift these defensive reactions the status quo prevails and we will never contribute our deepest gifts to the world.

One of the most powerful ways through the thicket of the protective parts of our psyche is curiosity about the push-pull within you. Part of you wants to express your true nature in a way that serves and makes a contribution, and part of you wants to follow the early decisions that kept you safe in your early environment.

Whenever you hit a sense of limitation that comes from within, get curious – what beliefs or behaviors are stopping me now, and what early decisions did I make that set them in place?

At the same time, appreciate the genius of those patterns rather than making them bad or wrong – they were created for the very good reason of keeping you safe, and they did serve you for many years. Look for new ways to meet the same objective that take into account who you have become since they were installed.

Curiosity and the willingness to be present with whatever you uncover with gentle compassion is one of the best ways to find room for all you are and all you are meant to be.