Lately, I’ve been distracted by my rear view mirror. I can’t get into my car any more without glancing at it and recalling a passage I recently read in a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Erod. In it, Hal says one of the most crippling causes of mediocrity in life is a condition he calls Rear view Mirror Syndrome (RMS ).
Our subconscious minds are equipped with a self-limiting rear view mirror, through which we continuously relive and recreate our past. We mistakenly believe that who we were is who we are, thus limiting our true potential in the present, based on the limitations of our past.
Think about it… Who we were is who we are.
My initial reaction was, “Na-ah, not me!!” But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. And yes, it is me. And I’ll bet it’s you too.
As human beings, we have a tendency to filter every choice we make – from what to eat for lunch, to where to go on vacation, to what we allow ourselves to consider possible in our lives – through the limitations of our past experiences.
For example, what to eat for lunch: if a cheesy double-beef burrito disagreed with you in the past, you’ll steer clear of that drive-thru in the future. Had an awesome burger at the café down the street? Chances are you’ll become one of their regulars. Have you ever gone on vacation and had a miserable time? Perhaps more than once? It may have been the location, the weather, or even the people you went with that contributed to your disappointment, but chances are, you’ll think twice about where, when, and with whom you go on vacation the next time.
Think about how many gastronomic pleasures and amazing adventures we may have let slip by because we allowed ourselves to let our rear view image of past experiences color our decisions moving forward.
Reading about the rear view mirror syndrome, I started recalling instances where I had let the limitations of my past affect the choices I made. For example, I went through a few years of living paycheck to paycheck, which really narrowed my view of what was possible in my life. A new car, updated furniture, vacation trips, even an iPhone seemed like impossible dreams.
As my business grew, thankfully money became more plentiful, but I found myself in the familiar rut of continuing to think and believe I couldn’t afford this and I couldn’t afford that. Even my goals reflected my limited thinking. I made plans to grow my business a bit but investing in services that could take it to the next level weren’t even on the radar. I would add a goal to take a vacation, but then planned on destinations close enough so I could drive (to avoid the airfare), and destinations where I had good friends who were happy to let me stay with them (a bottle of wine in gratitude was so much cheaper than a hotel).
Once I became aware of how frequently I let my self-imposed limitations restrict me, I found it was really hard to stretch my imagination when thinking about what’s possible moving forward. I could easily set goals that would stretch me some, but I was careful not to stretch too much because as soon as I did, the old rear view mirror syndrome would rear its ugly head and I’d snap right back to my “But-I-can’t” way of thinking.
As the old saying goes, The first step in recovery is realizing you have a problem. Since finishing Hal’s book, I often think about what it would be like to live my life without a single look into my rear view mirror. Imagine what would be possible if you could erase every limitation and failure that’s happened in the past. Imagine what you could accomplish if you began each day thinking ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
It’s still a new practice, but I try to start each day by refusing to look in my rear view mirror, or let a limiting experience stop me from moving forward. Sometimes, I can hold back the mental limitations for no more than 15 minutes. Once, I made it halfway through the morning. But the proof is in the pudding and I’m happy to tell you I’m taking a 10-day vacation in England later this year and I’m spending every night in a hotel!
Try it yourself. Get rid of your rear view mirror for 5, 10, 15 minutes a day and give your dreams a chance to grow.
About the Author
Kris Gleason has been a Certified Best Year Yet® Coach since 2004 working with individuals, businesses, and organizations to improve personal and team productivity and build a sustainable culture of performance. Combining the latest coaching, communication, and strategic planning tools, she consistently helps clients transform attitudes and behaviors, while empowering individuals and teams to take the actions necessary to produce desired results.
Kris has more than 30 years’ experience in the corporate world specializing in strategic planning, marketing, and sales. In 2002, while coaching financial advisors as part of her job with a securities broker/dealer, she discovered that coaching was her calling.
"I used to think I would be a great coach because I had so much hard-earned wisdom to share,” said Kris. “Since becoming a coach, I’ve learned that my job is to listen intently and ask the tough questions that encourage the client’s own wisdom to rise to the surface. I am never surprised, but always delighted, when a client has an ‘ah-ha moment’!”
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