Breaking out of the boxes we put ourselves in
When was the last time you tried something new for the fun of it? Maybe you drove a different route to work? Or bought a new brand of toothpaste? Maybe you tried a new restaurant or a new color for your hair?
Can't think of anything? You're not alone. Just like our dogs, we're creatures of habit. We take the same route to work and the grocery store. We like the same foods and restaurants( read Portillos). We view our days much like Groundhog Day, the movie. Day in and day out, our experience becomes expected or routine.
Don't Put God in a Box
But what if God doesn't work in our predetermined boxes? What if the path to meaning and purpose in life is filled with being open to trying new things, allowing God to show up in different ways? What if a life of hope is filled with the power of possibility?
I'm not saying this because I have it all mastered. I have my own set of boxes my life goes in and a whole new set of boxes I've put God in. Boxes like this is the only way God works. Or "I know" God will work this way, but not allowing Him to surprise me with new and different.
You get to choose...
My coach trainers taught us about Committed Ways of Being. It may sound kind of weird, but the cliff notes version is that you and I get to decide how we want to show up. They developed 10 ways of being that range from showing up on time (I could use a little work on that one) to paying attention to what has heart and meaning for you. But when it comes to the boxes we put ourselves in, my favorite one is being curious. Expect the unexpected. Be open to new possibilities in your life, on your path and in the way God works.
I bring this up because it's easy for you and I to get in a rut. It's easy for us to get stuck in the ways we usually think about things. It's easy for us to dream about the things we know about instead of the things that are on God's heart that we've never even thought of.
And let's go one step further. Boxes is a polite way of saying it, isn't it? Sometimes, our expectations and the way we've always done things are the very things that hold us back. From trying something new. From experiencing life fully. From realizing that the story God is writing is beautiful even when it's not what you ordered.
To be openhearted to life, we must embrace the unknown. To live life authentically, we must let go of the boxes that have been holding us back. To walk fully in the life God is calling us to, we must allow God to show us new and different and sometimes scary. And for some of us, the bravest thing we can do is letting go of how we've always done it to make room for a possibility we've never expected.
Some simple tips for letting go of the boxes that keep us comfortable...
I write in 3 points a lot. Three tips for this....Three steps for that... Sometimes I think that oversimplifies a life that is complex and messy. As you read, my hope is that you discover that life is a beautiful journey and learning to break open a box or two are part of the process. With that said, here are some ideas to get your started....
Begin to see your life as a journey
One of the greatest life lessons God has taught me along the way is that I'm not in a race. There is no set time that I am supposed to arrive at the finish line with all my boxes broken, all the new things tried and a life changed. As I write this I realize, there technically is a finish line. Yes, at the end of your days, God will be waiting at the finish line of heaven. From now until that day, it's not a race it's a journey.
How will seeing your life as a journey help you break down those boxes? By shifting your perspective. By allowing you to be open to new experiences. By giving yourself permission to be messy. By learning from your failures. By embracing what you have and allowing God to call you beautiful while you see a work in progress.
Change your thoughts, Change your life
In coaching, we talk about limiting beliefs and expanding beliefs. Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that are not true and hold you back. Christians may call this the lies we believe or stinkin' thinkin'.
Whatever you call your limiting beliefs, they are holding you back. When you live your life based on your limiting beliefs, you are not walking in freedom. You are living your life based on an assumption. The tricky part is that the only way to stop living with them is to address them head on.
You could do this one of two ways. One is to think of your life one area at a time. Pick your career/work or your finances or your health or relationships. Next identify one limiting belief that may be affecting you in this area. For instance, in finances it could be as long as I have it I can spend it or maybe it's I need to save every penny and can't enjoy any of it. After you've identified your limiting belief, think about how this belief makes you feel and how it impacts the way you show up. For the finance example, if you believe you can't enjoy any of the money God has given you, you may show up by never spending or feeling guilty over spending it. Lastly, think of an expanding belief (or truth) from God's Word that you can apply to this area.
Alternatively, you can address your top limiting beliefs with one of my fave tools, the inner critic. The inner critic is that inner voice that is obviously critical. It will say things like..."you're not good enough", "you're going to fail", etc. The tool is simple. Draw you inner critic on a piece of paper and draw thought bubbles around the negative things you say to yourself (your limiting beliefs). Take some time to find the truths in God's Word that combat those beliefs that are holding you back.
Are you fixed now that you've completed these tools? No. But you are aware and you can start to apply God's Word to what holds you back.
Dare to dream a little...
I'm a dreamer. One of my strengths from the Strengthsfinder is futuristic. I live in the future and what could be possible if we give it a little more time. On the flip side, you may be more grounded in reality in today. No way is better.
But to break out of our boxes and see possibility, we may need to dream a little. Dream of what could be. Dream of the possibility if we were brave enough to take a step of faith. Dream of a life of freedom where you live your life beautifully.
Some of us need to give ourselves permission to dream about possibility. We don't give ourselves the chance to do that. Because we're protecting our hearts from unfulfilled dreams. Because we don't want to be disappointed. Because this is how life has always been.
If you don't know where to start, start with God. Ask Him what dreams He has for you. And then spend time in the Bible. Where the dreams of his heart for us are written down. Where He pours out His love for us - page by page.
I'd love to hear from you! Let me know how God is working in your life to break down boxes and help you live your life beautifully. Simply comment here or send me a private message.