Are you are realist? Do you pride yourself on being pragmatic?
Or do you consider being realistic only for the faint hearted and risk averse?
My piece below is inspired by a similar post from Kate Megee that helped me get real about being realistic, and face some deeply ingrained ideas I have held for a long time.
Read through and see if any of it resonates with you.
People often tell us to “dream big”. In fact, I repeat this mantra to myself and my kids often. And then I get tough on myself for not doing just that!
But this idea to “dream big” cannot happen if deeply ingrained in us is also the ‘sensibility’ to “be realistic.” We can’t beat ourselves up for not “dreaming big” when being “realistic” is actually ingrained in our subconscious from an early age, sometimes by well meaning adults. Many of us grow up in cultures / environments that train people (handicaps them!) to be “realistic,” but then celebrate those who “dream big.” Society often contradicts itself.
For people like me, before we are able to aspire to “think big”, perhaps first we should strip away the handicap of “thinking small”, that’s a BIG step change. It’s the notion of stripping back – reducing – rather than adding. Start by taking away some of the toxic thoughts already in there.
I’ve always thought achieving our ambitions was about instilling ‘confidence’ or developing a ‘can do’ attitude, and then I berate myself for not being able to do that. But it’s not always about what you add in, it’s sometimes about what you keep out – not instilling a limited or “realistic” belief to begin with.
When people tell me (or have told me in the past – teachers, well meaning adults, work colleagues) to “be realistic” my heart sinks, I feel defeated, sad and sometimes frustrated. It’s a sort of unrealised potential. But I have never gone that one step further to think that perhaps they were being unrealistic! I believed their truth rather than fire up my own reality. These become the recurring stories we tell ourselves.
I should have instead made a plan. Most successful people (the definition and parameters of success is another topic) are those who laid a plan and took a step.
I’ve always been happy for others who have been unrealistic and achieved their dreams, whilst I have been content to just sit on the sidelines, never quite getting ‘in the game’. They didn’t have self-limiting beliefs, or self analyzing beliefs. Or maybe they did, but were able to quiet the noise in their head, whilst I listened to the voice in my head that told me to “be realistic.”
I believe that there is abundance in the world, but we cannot tap into this and truly manifest it, if we are being “realistic”. In this way, being “realistic” becomes a block, a form of self-deception and code for staying comfortable, within the confines of current norms. It is an invitation to think small and stay within predefined boundaries that others have set for us.
The question is, what does ‘realistic’ look like? One person’s reality may be another person’s dream since people’s ‘realism’ is based on their own reality (perceived reality) and life experience. Nothing is actually realistic or unrealistic, it’s how you look at it that matters.
What happens if we look at ‘reality’ like this – things don’t already exist in the world, they are born into reality. So we need to create our reality in order for it to exist. Therefore, everything is unrealistic when we don’t try. We need to create them into existence or they will always be unrealistic and out of reach.
Fears and doubts are a natural part of growth, but they become easier to deal with on a rational level as challenges to overcome, when our deeply held underlying belief is that anything can be realistic, anything is possible.
Let’s go ahead and be UNrealistic.