No, it wasn’t Gilligan’s Island we visited. My husband and I signed up for a Ghost Tour of Seattle when we were there for a conference recently. It was interesting to hear the “ghostly” spin that was put on stories that were mostly about historic crimes in the city. The tour guide started by telling us about the many types of haunts that can occur. The general theme was about how ghosts tend to hide out and occasionally make an appearance in various mischievous styles that catch our attention. But then they vanish again and we’re left questioning whether we actually saw them in the first place.
I attended a program recently that was a wonderful invitation for all of us to think about “breaking out of a mold” we may have found ourselves in. I had to chuckle at some of the parallels a ghost story can have to trying to break out of a mold. Have you ever caught yourself doing something you do not enjoy, yet you've continued to do it daily?
This can be something as minor as using the same toothpaste your parents provided in childhood to something as major as your life work or significant relationships.
Sometimes we get good at something, only to discover our skill doesn’t bring us fulfillment. Or we may be doing tasks we’re not good at that we should hire someone to do for us. Yet to ask the question, "Should I change?" seems not to occur to us because the perceived risk of change is too great. A glimpse of that change may flash before us like a mischievous ghost. We definitely saw it in a flash, but then we doubt our own vision.
Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, causing us to hide out in our familiar roles and routines. How do we know if this is what we've been doing?
These are the questions I’ve used to guide some of my mold-breaking:
Have I been hiding out in any area of my life?
Is there something I've been tolerating that I don't have to?
Am I staying put because I'm afraid a change will make things worse?
How do I assess if that’s an accurate perception?
Do I have a talent I’ve kept hidden away?
If you answer yes to half or more of the above questions, perhaps it is time to start your own “ghost tour.” Explore by asking friends, family, or colleagues what they see as most energizing to you. What do they see as your greatest talents? They can help you eliminate the doubt and trust your vision again. Compare the mix of answers. Is there a theme running throughout?
Next, ask yourself how often you get to do any of your favorite, energizing things in a typical week. If the answer is none or very little, begin to explore small steps you can take. Perhaps there are opportunities for your passion right where you are, but you just never noticed before.
Breaking a tough mold here and there is like meeting a friendly ghost. It helps us venture out of the familiar and explore new opportunities with courage. It can take time – more than a three hour tour! My latest conscious change has taken 10 years. But the energy boost it provides is worth it and the tour is much more fun that way. When your talents align with how you spend your time, you improve your overall health and joy in life. And that reaches others to boost the positive outcomes in the world.