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MOVING ON…by Exposing Our Underlying Agreements

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” ~ R. W. Emerson

Do you often feel that just as your best intentions are about to come to fruition, something comes along and applies the brakes? If this is the case, then perhaps you are not really committed to what you say you are committed to. Perhaps there is an unconscious agreement you have made with yourself that won’t allow you to reach the goals, objectives and vision you are holding as possible because this previous agreement has a stronger hold on you.

Such an agreement is responsible for the discrepancy between what you say want and what you’re experiencing. For example, if you say you want to be successful in your career, but you consistently create some sort of disappointment or failure in the job; chances are there is an underlying agreement at work. You may be committed to playing it safe and have made an agreement with yourself that you will not put yourself in a position to be humiliated or rejected. Or perhaps it’s not okay for you to be more successful than your parents or your spouse. All of this is of course not in our conscious mind unless we find the courage to analyze the result of our stated intentions. Analyze the gap between where you are now and where you say you want to be and get real about what is stopping you from bridging that gap?

Over the years I have worked with many clients who seem to be on the path of conflicting intentions and we often find an underlying agreement that provides them with a measure of safety because of an unrecognized fear. One person may want a romantic relationship ‘more than anything’, but in truth be afraid to give up control or have a fear of intimacy which would seem to include losing control.

Another may say he wants to fund his retirement, yet is unable to save even 5% because he must maintain his comfortable lifestyle. This need to keep up appearances is actually an underlying agreement he has made with himself that says he must look good in order to be good. Personal worth can’t be bought with possessions, but it may appear otherwise.

Suppose you have a stated goal to live a healthy life, raise your three children and retire at 60 with a wonderful life still ahead to travel and have fun. Yet, in spite of this great vision and a family history of high blood pressure and heart disease, you smoke. What is the underlying agreement here, a desire to punish yourself, a need to play Russian roulette with your life, or a belief that everybody is entitled to one vice?

If you really want to change your life, you must make new choices. You must first of all be asking the right questions and then you must be totally honest in your assessment of the answer. We humans can justify anything, and I mean anything. We can procrastinate, pontificate and bull - - - - ourselves until the cows come home.

I’m too tired, it costs too much, it’s her fault, when the kids get in school, when the kids get out of school, when I get this project done, when I get that promotion…….it goes on and on.

Make a list of your stated goals, be very specific. I feel certain the New Years resolutions have gone by the wayside at this point. Begin with those, write them down and then underneath, write your underlying agreement.

If the goal was to lose weight and it didn’t happen, perhaps the underlying agreement was to do ‘what I want to do or to wait for the perfect time’.

If the goal was to have an intimate fulfilling relationship with a partner; ask yourself if the underlying agreement was to protect yourself.

If the goal was to say ‘No’ more often, to ask for what you need and more fully express yourself and you didn’t follow through; could it be you’re a people pleaser? If so, what are you afraid of?

It’s easy to see how the presence of the underlying agreements we have made with ourselves perhaps years and years ago can block the attainment of the very results we’re seeking. Exposing these underlying agreements is a vital step to achieving our goals and living the life we desire. Often what is hidden below the radar screen is taking us off the path and leading us in a direction other than the one we say we’re committed to. We can’t lower our cholesterol while eating potato chips and fried chicken. We can’t build a nest egg if we go shopping every weekend. We can’t meet our fitness goals if we’re attached to the sofa. We can’t market our business if we never get outside the office.

We must choose our path. First by having a vision and second by asking daily is this action taking me towards the vision or away from it. And when those self-doubts and excuses creep in and they will. Ask: is this a truth or an underlying agreement/belief? Is this an assumption or an assessment?

Remember as Emerson said, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

I wish you sunshine.

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