When I was a little girl, I had dreams.  I was going to own a horse farm, and ride every day.  I might paint and draw in a little studio next to my house.  And I would have a husband.  Maybe. And if I did get married, I was going to be skinny and he was going to be super handsome. But I definitely was not going to have kids.

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time fearful.  I had a terrible fear of falling, so I walked full of fear whenever there was ice on the ground.  I had a fear of my mothers anger, and a fear that my dad would leave. I had a fear of heights, so even climbing onto a chair was too high for me.  But I was able to sit atop the tallest horse, and not be afraid.  Not for one second.

When I was a little girl, my heart ached for animals being abused, and children going hungry.  I remember going to the bank to donate what small amount of money was in my bank account at the time to the starving children in Ethiopia.  Partly because that is what good Catholic girls did back then (it was Ireland in the 1980’s), and partly because I thought it would make me a good person and that good things would happen to me if I did that.  While there was no bolt of lightening, no drastic change that happened to my life after doing that, I can still remember the sense of pride and joy walking into that bank that day.  I felt so grown-up.  So good.

Life of Your Dreams QuoteWhen I was a little girl, I never felt little at all.  I felt awkward in my body, out of place in the world.  I never stood tall enough, sang loud enough, looked cute enough.  When I was a little girl, little boys didn’t like me.  At least it didn’t seem that they did. My parents reminded me that I wasn’t like all the other girls, and that I needed to lose weight.  Animals didn’t judge me though – they were attracted to me, and that was special and made me feel different in a good way.

When I was a little girl, I was sensitive, empathic, fearful, shy, anxious, kind, lonely and depressed. But I didn’t know that, because my feelings didn’t really matter.  What did matter was making sure that everyone else was feeling okay.  If you’re okay, then I’m okay. I became really, really good at that, too: making sure everyone else was feeling okay.

And then I grew up.

When I grew up, nothing much changed.  I was still afraid of heights and falling.  I was still afraid of my mothers anger, and had not fully recovered from my dad leaving.  I was still empathic towards animals and children, and was still searching for ways to be ‘good’.  I still felt awkward in my “too large” body.  And I still struggled with depression, anxiety and people-pleasing.

When I grew up, I realized that what I did have going for me was my intelligence. I completed my three University degrees and everything necessary to help people professionally – and amazingly I realized I was quite gifted. But it didn’t matter. Because no matter how hard I worked, how much I studied, how many people I helped, how many or few friends I had, how often I travelled, my skin still felt wrong on my body.

When I grew up, I thought that riding horses was a pastime for people who were rich and happy, and since I was neither I lost the opportunity to feel ‘high’ without feeling fear.  Donating time and money still felt good, but didn’t make me believe I was a ‘good’ person.  As an adult, I no longer had to make my parents happy so that I could feel ‘safe’ – so I felt unsafe a lot at a core level.

When I grew up, I found my super handsome guy (I wasn’t super skinny).  And we have three beautiful children. They were born within 21 months of each other.  Boy was I overwhelmed.

When I grew up, my body literally burned out. After spending a lifetime of pushing through everything, ignoring my own emotional needs my body literally threw up it’s hands and cried ‘mercy’.   I was still depressed, still battling anxiety, and had developed an auto-immune disease.

And then I stopped.

I stopped pushing through and forging on and started to breathe.  When I stopped to breathe, I realized that my exhaustion and burnout had come from trying to live within the boundaries of limits that did not allow me to stretch and grow.

It was very difficult to live life as an adult and carry the same beliefs of that ‘little girl’ with me.  I lived within a belief system that said I was not ‘safe’ if I was not accepted – which meant that everything I did needed to be approved by others.  I did not climb heights because it was scary and dangerous – and so I either avoided any situation that felt out of my comfort zone, or I pushed through it but with a great deal of anxiety and overwhelm.  Other people’s feelings were always more important than mine – so I had almost no ability to check in with how I was feeling or what I needed, never mind how to act on those needs and feelings.

It was only when I stopped – when my body literally stopped me – that I was able to fully assess the roots of my overwhelm.  Old hurts, unhealed emotional wounds.  Limiting beliefs about myself that were ‘leftovers’ from a childhood that was not always butterflies and rainbows.

I know that my story is not unique.  Your story will be similar in areas, different in others.  But you will probably relate to the idea of feeling ‘restricted’ somehow from living your best life.  You may not know what the source of that feeling is, or how to shake it.  Often, we look at situations, people or circumstances outside of ourselves and point fingers at them, believing that if it/they/that was different, then WE would be or feel different.  I know I did that for years.

Here’s the thing.  The acceptance you’re looking for? It’s all in YOU.  The feeling of belonging you want?  You guessed it – internal.  The confidence to do what it is you dream of doing?  Definitely already there.

Sometimes we need to smash the limits we place on ourselves.  We need to crush the idea of ‘not good enough’ with a belief in ourselves that is bigger Life of Your Dreams Small Pic 2than any other belief.  And doing that is lot simpler than we might tell ourselves. At least that has been my experience.

First, Stop. Breathe.  Breathe deeply, softly and often.

Practice gratitude.  Be grateful for who you are, how far you have come, the lessons you have learned, and the air that you breathe. Thank your body, your mind, and your feelings every day for getting you this far.

Practice Forgiveness.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive others for the perceived wrongs.  Once you can do that, the weight of that burden can be released.  Resentment and anger are heavy layers that are difficult to break through.

Be Love.  Be the love you need and needed.  Treat yourself as you crave for others to treat to you.  Talk to yourself softly, kindly and with warmth.  You deserve it.

My dreams are much bigger and bolder now than anything I could dream up as a little girl, because her dreams were limited by her experience.  Now, my dreams are made limitless by my choices, my freedom and my self-love.

What about you – are you living the life of your dreams?

Tanya Tinney

Tanya Tinney is mom to three beautiful girls (including fraternal twins), wife of an amazingly tolerant man, nature lover, wrangler of two large dogs and chaser of three bad cats. She is equally good at baking banana bread and whipping up a killer margarita.  Her passion is helping others get unstuck from their past as well as current challenges so they can get really stuck into achieving their dreams.  She is highly intuitive and had 14 years experience working as a psychologist before becoming a coach – so most of the time she knows what she’s doing.  The rest of the time she wings it based on her own messy life experiences.

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