I know a guy who has worn round-toed boots his whole life. Recently, he bought a pair of really (in my opinion) nice looking square-toed boots. Not too square, just square-ish. Did I mention they were really nice? He only wore them for two weeks, but those darn square toes kinda gave him the heebie jeebies so he gave them to his nephew.

They weren’t uncomfortable. They didn’t pinch or rub. They weren’t ugly. The problem? They didn’t match his internal self-image of the guy who wears round-toed boots. And his internal self-image held the key to what he could and could not allow into his life.

I also know a woman who is in her mid-forties who styles her hair and dresses exactly as she did when she was in high school, circa late 1980’s. Her hair is perfectly Farrah Fawcett feathered, and goes well with her bejeweled boot leg jeans and tasselled moccasins.

Let me be clear. I am not making fun of these people. So if I’m not making jest, you might be wondering to yourself why in the heck I’m writing about this. What do round versus square toe boots and 1980’s hairstyles have to do with invisible fences?

When you feel stuck it’s quite possible that you are literally…stuck…in a habit (or several) that keeps your self-image tied to an outdated version of you that is way too small for the version of YOU that is ready to spread her wings & fly.

What do I mean?

Take the really nice looking square-toed boots. I’m sure they looked awesome in the store, the catalog or online shopping cart. But as soon as he put them on the guy’s self-image began whispering insidious messages to him, telling him all kinds of messages about what kind of person he would become if he continued wearing them. After all, guys who wear round-toed boots are certain kinds of men, who look at the world in a certain way and square-toed boot guys…well…they’re sneaky, oily snake oil salesmen (or whatever  messages he heard about guys who wore square-toed boots growing up). And you know that he doesn’t want to be that kind of guy so the only thing to do is rid himself of the source of inevitable future pain and misery.

Nature is a great teacher for growth and transformation. When we observe a tree over the cycle of a year we see it go from brown, barren and shivering icicles off with the warmth of each new sunrise. In the spring it sprouts green buds, and eventually flowers and leafs out. In late summer, the tree drips heavy with the fruits of its labor, and in the Autumn the tree follows the cycles of the sun and begins dropping its jewel colored leaves to prepare for conserving energy during the deep hibernation of winter.

In your own life you can look back and see that you wore pink (or whatever color you loved when you were 7) snowboots and rainboots in size 3. Today, your feet have grown and you now favor black because it’s both practical and stylish to boot (pun intended). In the early 90’s you swapped out the old worn out 70’s Tupperware with orange lids for Rubbermaid, and recently to glass Pyrex. You buy new dishes when the old ones chip or break. You buy a new mattress when you can no longer tolerate waking up in the bottomless crevasse that has formed in the middle. You buy a new TV because you convince yourself you need a new 100” surround sound system. But let’s be honest. You really bought it because it’s cool.

The point I’m making here is that we are designed to grow and change so that we can evolve and become more of our true selves. And in order to grow you must remind your self-image that you are in charge.

Women who are swans raised to believe they were ducklings often have a tough time with real change because their internal voice kicks and screams, telling them they will look silly or stupid, or that they can’t or shouldn’t, or that they’re not smart enough, talented enough, strong enough, brave enough, or (fill in the blank) enough. And the woman believes the voice of her outdated self-image so she stays stuck, unfulfilled and miserable, but doesn’t understand the deeper why.

This week I invite you to look at your habits. Be as objective and kind to yourself as possible. Pretend you are looking from the outside in. What do you see? Outdated hairstyle? Schedule a hair appointment (with a new stylist) who will encourage you to break out of your mold without arguing with you or questioning whether you’re sure. She will also show you how to style it differently so you don’t go home and do the same old two-step with your curling iron. Same style of jeans you’ve been wearing for 20 years? Get thee to the department store and buy a style that you’ve admired other women wearing (but you’ve never even let yourself try them on before). Are you a woman who always wears black or grey, subtle, conservative and polished? Think about your favorite TV character and how she dresses because it’s likely you admire her because she’s bold and not afraid to express herself. Go buy a few outfits that are trendy and colorful that she would wear, and then wear them.

Think about your other habits that no longer serve you. Things you do because your mom did them, and her mom before her, and her mom before her. Do you do things because you were told to, but when you do them they feel icky or stifling? Are you bored? Do these habits serve you now? Are they healthy and functional? Do they lend you the freedom and creativity to be YOURSELF? If not, it’s time to replace them with habits that serve your magnificent soul.

Look, we all know that growth is an inside job. You can’t change the external stuff and think your life is going to change. But lots of women try and expect it to work. But I promise that if you’re stuck in a rut and spinning your wheels it’s your habits that need to change so that your self-image can release its death grip on who it believes you to be.

Once your self-image is on board with a new, updated version of you it will be easier to make the external life changes you long for, like living your soul purpose, finding your soul mate, contributing your amazing soul gifts in the world, making a significant impact in the world, being yourself (fully, completely, authentically and unapologetically), and living your most authentic abundant life.

To your freedom,

Live Your Purpose with Passion & Prosperity

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