Discarded Anxiety - When did You Stop Believing
Photo Credit:"Baby Session Makayl" by Nick Nguyen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I was first introduced to Jeff Goins by the guys at Fizzle.co.  I was intrigued by Jeff's writing and purchased his latest book, The Art of Work.  I read it as part of this 30 Day Reading Challenge.

I also started following his blog.  He recently wrote an article about his 3-year-old son Aiden, who firmly believes he is a superhero with super powers.  Even with Jeff and his wife Ashley explaining the differences between real life and make-believe, Aiden still totally believes he is a superhero.

Jeff then goes on to ask the following question:

"Do you remember what that felt like? When you believed you possessed a purpose that was bigger than your fears? When anything was possible and an adventure awaited you?

When did you stop believing that? When did you settle for the status quo? And when, exactly, did you give up your superpower?"

Essentially, he was asking, when did you stop believing in your ability to do or be anything?
The question caused me to pause and ponder my own life.  I could remember what it felt like to believe I could do anything.

Do You Remember?

I remember what if felt like to believe I was the next Michael Jordan. I remember when I knew I was the next Jack Nicholas and the next Tiger Woods. I remember when I just knew I could fly like Superman, or have all the gadgets to fight crime like Batman. I remember what that felt like, in my mind anything was possible.

What I couldn't figure out was when I stopped believing.  Perhaps it was biological makeup that caused me to stop growing well shy of Jordan's height 6'6" that trampled my dreams of NBA stardom. Perhaps it was not making my college golf team and losing my love for the game for a while that crushed my dreams of being a great golfer. Perhaps it was the realization that people can't fly like Superman and that while the gadgets of Batman were cool they were also very dangerous and caused me to stop believing.

While all of those experiences are plausible reasons to stop believing that anything is possible, they weren't good enough. They weren't good enough because the reality was short guys still made it to the NBA. Golfers who didn't learn to play until they were much older than me still made it to the PGA. New gadgets are made daily and fight crimes that are much safer than ever before. Even flying, although not like Superman yet, has become easier to accomplish through the speed of planes and other modes of transportation.

So again, I asked myself, when did I stop believing that anything was possible?

When Did You Stop Believing?

It just didn't make sense. I was blessed to have parents that supported my dreams. I had friends who believed in me. I had teachers and professors who, despite my often poor effort still pushed me and encouraged me to do great things. And yet, with all this positivity and support surrounding my history and all the examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things on a daily basis around the world, how did I come to a point where I stopped believing that anything was possible?

How did I get to a place where dreams were no longer things to be chased, but things to be talked about like a fairy tale.

There's only one explanation.

If you're asking yourself the same question, there's only one explanation for you too. Regardless of your upbringing, experiences or life choices, no matter how wonderful or disastrous your life has been up until this point, there is only one reason we have all stopped believing in the possibility of anything.

We made the choice.

We decided to give up on what we considered to be childish, or foolish, or stupid, or impossible. We decided that our dreams weren't worth our time, and then we settled. We took the "best" job we could find. We accepted less than we wanted. We stopped dreaming, stopped creating, and gave up on our superpowers.

That is so tough to hear. It's hard to accept that while we may have been blaming the world for where our lives have taken us, the truth is, we've been the ones taking the steps. We've been the ones making the choices, and we can only blame ourselves.

How's it Working Out Now?

For most of us, we've chosen to be like everybody else. We've ignored the dreams and desires and callings on our lives in order to fit in and be "normal". We believed that this is what we were supposed to do, put away our childish dreams, grow up, get a job, pay bills, and live moderately content for the rest of our lives.

Well, I have another question for you, how is being normal working out for you?

In the article that Jeff wrote about his son, he also talked about Superman. He shared how when Superman came to Earth he hid who he was by acting like everybody else so that people wouldn't judge him or think he was weird and different.

But the truth is, Superman wasn't like anyone else. He was born different. He wasn't even like other superheroes who experienced freak accidents and mutated into something else. No, Superman was born with his superpowers. They were always within him, and when the time called for it, when he saw a need that he could meet, he would embrace and utilize those powers to help others.

I believe that we are all much more like Superman than we give ourselves credit. We're all born with some kind of superpower. Yes especially you! It may not be the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or to move faster than a speeding bullet.

But perhaps you're gifted in caring for others. Perhaps you're gifted in understanding people. Perhaps you have a knack for creating beautiful things or conquering challenges. Whatever it is, somewhere inside of you, under all of those times you chose not to pursue your dream or believe something wasn't possible, lies your true gifts. There lies your calling.

How Much Longer?

And if you're honest enough to consider it, as you look back over your life, you will likely start to see common themes centered around the things you've always wanted to do, but decided not to pursue.

I've been thinking through my own life, and I remember times when I was too afraid to say something and the consequences of that action. I remember times when I found the courage to listen to people who needed someone to talk to, and how much of an impact that made on that person's day. I remember multiple times I was able to bring clarity to seemingly difficult and confusing concepts and situations, as well as times when I kept silent out of fear, and how that affected me.

I've been asking myself more and more frequently the following questions, and now I'm asking you...

How much longer will you allow your desires and gifts to sit there, untouched, alone and just waiting for you to breathe life into them again?

How much longer will you continue to go through the motions of normalcy just so that you don't have to face your fears?

How much longer will you shy away from the things you truly want and deserve?

If you're thinking about making a change, if you're thinking about believing again, despite everything you've been through, I have great news for you.

The exhilarating thing about this is the same thing that got you here, the same thing that caused you to stop believing that anything is possible... is the same thing that will bring forth life to your dreams. It's not a deep or difficult concept. In fact, it is the most powerful superpower of all.

All you have to do is make the choice.

So... What's it going to be?

Next Action Steps

In the comments below, fill in this blank:  "I am going to rekindle my belief in my ability to_________________ ."

Then, jot down the first 3 steps you're going to take to help rekindle that belief.

For example: "I am going to rekindle my belief in my ability to write for this blog every week."

  1. Set aside a specific amount of time strictly for writing at least 2-times a week.
  2. Jot down topics and ideas to write about in a notebook as they come up.
  3. Share my plan with someone else for accountability purposes (Hint: I just told you).


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great post Aaron. How did I miss this one before? I love your advice to forget being "regular" and pursue our dreams with that same passion we had as kids! Love that header image too. 😉

    1. Thanks Lisa,

      It's so true isn't it? We grow up and put away our childish things, but I don't think we're supposed to put away our dreams with all our toys, crayons, coloring books, and short stories. We owe it to ourselves to dream again, and not only to dream but to go after those dreams as much as possible. Thank so much for your comment.

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