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Why is it so difficult to follow one's path and deep aspirations - 3 ideas to move forward

"I want to, but I can't!"

That's essentially what Laure, a brilliant executive, tells me, even though she's still searching for her professional path. "I'm afraid to go for it, afraid to explore and leave behind what I know, and yet that's all I dream about. I'm stuck!"

I'm talking about that thing inside you that screams that you need change. You need to follow what's right for you because you know deep down that's how you'll finally find fulfillment. And yet, it's as if chains are holding you back.

You know you're meant for something else, to express yourself differently, and it seems impossible. So you soldier on. You're pretty good at what you're doing now (which doesn't help). Worse, your position is highly desirable. The catch? It's not you anymore, or at least not who you truly are.

Why is it so difficult to fully become oneself and follow one's path? Here's a key to understanding and three concrete ideas to move forward.

Following one's path - the presumed cause of the blockage

On the surface, the steps many of my clients wish to take are not revolutionary: exploring other professional horizons, providing severe corrective feedback to your most trusted manager, reducing working hours, etc. Yet, the obstacles seem insurmountable.

Femme d'affaire le soir regardant pensive par la fenêtre d'un building.
What is preventing you from moving forward on "your own path"? - credit: Wix

The search for the right professional option keeps them going in circles. Tips and tricks for applying, boosting self-confidence, or saying "no" to their boss don't convince them. It's a blockage. Period.

Moreover, the blockage sometimes has consequences: burnout, depression, anxiety, and other addictions are never far away...

The obstacle is, in fact, not the problem.

Following one's path - the real cause of the blockage

The issue lies elsewhere. Upon digging deeper, I often encounter the fear of severing ties, of "coming out," of losing a particular image in the eyes of those who matter.

Dr. Gabor Maté summarizes the roots of our difficulty in being ourselves quite well. As children (yes, often that's where it all begins), we have two fundamental needs:

  • Firstly, we need to be connected and belong because it's a survival condition at that age.

  • Secondly, we crave authenticity because we strongly need to express our true nature.

However, the great tragedy is that we often compromise with ourselves in the name of the need to belong! The child can use strategies of great intelligence: conforming to preserve the connection. And we do it so often that it becomes our second nature! And because it's our second nature, the mechanism persists into adulthood, still as if our life would depend on it. And there I am, just repeating "what's familiar" because I don't know anything else.

Let's pause for a moment: What are you becoming aware of?

The double challenge is that we remain "wired for love and belonging," as Professor of Social Psychology Brené Brown would say. Sometimes, it's even difficult to determine whether the nature of the attachment we cling to is the result of an independent choice or the outcome of a nice compromise with ourselves due to a primary need from childhood.

Three ideas to move forward on your path

For many of us, following our path and desires becomes our greatest life challenge. When the mechanism is unconscious, it leaves you with that unpleasant feeling of powerlessness and incomprehension. However, when the mechanism becomes conscious, you can start working on it:

  1. Firstly, ask yourself which key phrase that keeps running through your mind obstructs your desire to move forward. "I will disappoint...?" "I will lose connection with...?" "I won't be understood in my choice by...?"

  2. Next, take the time to assess the actual risk of losing one relationship or another. Will you indeed be alone in the world? Is your independence at stake? Some relationships closely tied to the old "role" you played may not withstand your momentum. Be willing to mourn certain relationships. It's the price you pay for the richness of future relationships where you can be fully yourself without roles, pretenses, or masks. In reality, more often than not, the real danger lies elsewhere. You are surrounded, loved, and an independent adult. And if someone can't rejoice in seeing your progress on your path, is that a connection worth preserving?

  3. Finally, the real question becomes: how can you maintain the relationships that matter "and" move toward yourself? In which context can you already be yourself, and what does it bring you? A client was surprised to realize he could be himself with certain people and that his interactions were much better. Can you remember that, and build/experiment from there? Differentiate between your choices and your relationships. Don't assimilate them.

Sometimes, these mechanisms are difficult to uncover. Sometimes, they also hide actual wounds, consciously or unconsciously, that have left such an imprint that no rational or conscious effort can resolve them. This is where the guidance of a professional who can read between the lines and help you find the roots of the blockage, soothing what needs to be soothed, becomes invaluable. Know it can be overcome. Easily.

In a nutshell,

Wanting to follow your path, your journey is an aspiration that tends to grow as we mature as adults. Not doing so can lead to depression and crisis.

One of the major causes of the difficulty in being oneself and following one's path is the fear of compromising relationships and jeopardizing one's need for belonging. However, if the need is genuine, the stakes of strained connections are much lower than when you were a child or teenager when belonging was almost a matter of survival. Indeed, it's in the vulnerability of becoming more authentically ourselves that bonds are created and strengthened! Gain perspective, distance yourself, and nurture the relationships that matter to you! Getting closer to who you indeed are shouldn't jeopardize your strongest bonds.

Dare to move forward on your path, no matter the cost! It's about your satisfaction, well-being, and even your mental health!

When will you finally feel alignment between your values, talents, and activities?

When will you experience ease and flow while doing what feels right?

When will you have boundless energy because your pursuits fuel it?

So? When will you finally follow your true path and your deepest aspirations?

Have a great week!


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