Each of us comes into the world as a whole, integrated human being. We're born with innate personality traits, natural strengths and talents, and tremendous potential.
Growing up, we respond to our life conditioning by adopting habitual roles, beliefs, and behaviors that often diminish our strengths and potential. These patterns follow us into adulthood, and they shape our feelings about ourselves, our relationships, our personal lives, and our careers.
In my "Illumineering Coaching" work -- be it with individuals, couples, families, executives, or management teams -- my fundamental mission is to help people figure out what's keeping a lid on their potential, where it came from, and how to remove it. This involves identifying their innate personality traits, strengths, and potential -- their "authentic self" -- and the habitual role, beliefs, and behaviors of their "conditioned self." We assess the disparity between the two selves, uncover their self-defeating patterns, and determine where they came from.
The next step is developing strategies for change. This entails learning how to think and act by deliberation instead of by default. Living by deliberation means intentionally aligning your thoughts, behaviors, and choices with who you really are, and the outcomes you're trying to achieve. When you're living by default, you're reacting on autopilot from old, conditioned patterns. And while those patterns may have made sense when you were little, they're usually not very effective in producing the results you want as an adult.
Letting your "conditioned self" run your life is like continuously swimming upstream. It depletes your energy, stifles your strengths, keeps you settling for less than what you're capable of creating, and undermines your relationships. Over time, the stress it produces can even weaken your immune system and compromise your physical health.
Shedding the shackles of your life conditioning and liberating who you already are will change your life. Instead of your energy being consumed by trying to be perfect, berating yourself, living up to other's expectations, avoiding failure, dealing with conflict, numbing your pain, or managing fear, it's available to discover what you like, take new risks, pursue your dreams, share positive relationships, and create the personal and professional life to which you aspire.
This type of personal and professional development work -- delving into the roots of limiting patterns and taking action to produce lasting change -- can be challenging, uncomfortable, or even painful for some people. But the 25 years that I've been doing this work -- and the transformative results I've seen over and over again -- has taught me two very important things: 1) the only way out is through, and 2) the journey is well-worth the ride.
* * * * *
Lauren Mackler is a coach, psychotherapist, LIFE KEYS radio host, and author of the international best-seller, "SOLEMATE: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life." She is a frequent commentator on CNN and FOX, and her work has been covered widely in the media. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter, read her blog, and visit her web site.