When Progress Looks Like Going Backwards

embodiment goals perfectionist May 04, 2022
The Enneagram One Project

When Progress Looks Like Going Backwards


How often do we have a look at how it really works for others as they make progress towards a goal?


We look to others and see what they want us to see.


They tell us about where they were and where they are now and promise it’s possible for you too.


In fact, I do this all of the time, in these weekly letters, on IG and on the podcast.


Let’s do it differently this time.


When things didn’t look like progress, I so wanted to know that I was still doing it right but no one was showing me their imperfect moments.


I’m doing that on this week’s podcast. You can hear it HERE.


Progress looks like:


Getting to a point where you dismiss a limiting beliefs because you’ve worked through it before but you do it so quickly that it just hides in a corner of your mind. It’s not really dismantled.


The key is always to check with your body when a thought pops up. How do you feel? Open or closed? 


Progress looks like:


Your super creative brain coming up with new reasons you shouldn’t do the thing. If the old thoughts don’t work as well to stop you going towards imagined catastrophe, it will come up with something new.


The key is to question these new, better, more rational excuses.


You get to decide how you view this in terms of progress for you.


This is how I become more solid in who I am from within and in my self trust. 


I get to congratulate myself for seeing my old habit come back faster than I ever have before. 


I get to appreciate that I can now move into action with more ease because I will have my back no matter what comes of this action. 


You can too 💖



Pick Your Perfect Project mini series: https://www.dominiquevandal.com/pick-your-perfect-project 





Welcome every One, you are listening to The Enneagram One Project Podcast, Ep 18 - When progress looks like going backwards


Something made me laugh so hard this week, I just had to share it here with you. In fact, I decided to make an entire episode out of it to really bring to life the idea that progress is not linear, in fact it is full of ups and downs. As I go through the story, I really want you to rest in the knowing that if I, as an Enneagram One and Perfectionist can see the downs, failures and regressions as something to embrace, that you can too.


I have told you about how I couldn’t call for pizza because I was so afraid I’d make a mistake or be a bother for the person on the other end of that call. I have made leaps and bounds in this area as the host of this podcast, an instructor in coach certification, host of many webinars and all that jazz but do you know what I noticed this week? There’s this one person I’ve been not calling for a while now. 


It totally escaped me because my reasons have changed. I’ve been so wrapped up in the work that I’m doing that I totally believed my reasons for not calling this person, let’s call him Max. It was quite logical, I was not calling Max because other things are simply more important. I’ll tell you what my list was so you can see if that’s also present for you. 1) I can’t call Max now because the kids are home and that’s who I focus on 2) I’ll call Max after I’m done with (insert thing/event) 3) I can’t call Max because it’s the weekend/or a holiday and it’s not ok to impede on his personal time 4) I’m working on providing value for my clients, podcast listeners or working in general.


It did pop into my mind once or twice that I don’t know what needs to be done for the repair and some nonsense about not the best being for the call, I should ask my spouse. I saw that thought error quickly and dismissed it. 


There are a few things going on here that I want to point your attention to. First, I was totally operating from the headspace, being logical about it, that’s why I went along with it, I only noticed something was amiss when I paused and became very very present with the notion of calling Max. Second, the mind will find ways to keep you safe and can be quite creative about it so when it’s shut down with the limiting thoughts that used to work, it finds other so-called reasons. Third, I get to decide how I want to roll with this. I’ll tell you how I view this at the end of the podcast but first let’s look at the first two reasons and as we do that, think of an area in your life where you’re not doing the thing, even better if it’s something you’ve had some progress in and suddenly thought you had a regression of sorts.


A little background on Max and why I’m calling him or more accurately why I haven’t been calling him. Our beloved house needs some TLC, and Max is the contractor we plan on hiring. I have had terrible experiences with contractors in the past, not a good reason not to call this very pleasant Max, Max is not the person we dealt with in the past but my brain is absolutely putting all contractors in the same category. Without my explicit request but simply because I have a very efficient brain. As a life coach, I know that my experience with contractors in the past is no indication of how it will go with Max, but the past is the only reference the brain has so it grabs on as though it were inevitable to be repeated. 


What ends up happening is that while I’m being productive and focused on what lights me up, clients, podcasting and all of that, there’s something happening in the background whenever I think of calling Max. An association is made with the only reference my brain knows to rely on to predict how this call will go, the past. When it brings up these contractors from our past, some of the fears I never dealt with come back up and now my brain thinks I’m in danger so it does what it’s supposed to do. It brings up very logical reasons to stop me from taking action towards perceived catastrophe.


In this case, it reminded me that I didn’t understand the repairs well enough to be the best person to make this call. Sounds a lot like my old identity “we don’t call out for pizza because we might make a mistake” so this, I see right through immediately BUT and this is key BUT I was all in my headspace. I dismissed it so fast that I didn’t check in with my body. This extra step would have given me the information I needed to take notice of the old tension I had not worked through.


Have you noticed some of those old thought patterns coming in regarding that thing you have made headway with and you quickly dismiss them too?


So how do we do that? Always the same, breath, movement and sound. The breath allows you to become aware and the movement and or sound help to express whatever thread of tension is still present.


When I take the time to do this, I become aware of the tightness in my chest, the clammy hands, the quickening of my heartbeat and if I let go of the presence even just a little I can see the spinning that wants to take hold instead. This tells me there’s something there, but I can’t become aware if I stay in my head where my habit of attention goes towards improvement because when it does, I keep finding the ways I “should” improve myself before I call Max. I won’t ever get the outcome of the repairs being completed if I don’t take this first step.


In my headspace I rationalize that I’ve already dealt with these objections and they’re not real so I downplay them. What also happens when I downplay the objections is that I don’t poke holes in them and destroy them, they still live on in the mind. I don’t take the time to question what I think to be true that is in fact not true and entirely optional. It’s not true that I’m not the best person to make this call. The best person to make this call is simply the person that makes the dang call.


So that’s the first thing that happened, I stayed in the headspace because I thought I had reasoned my way out of this limiting belief. The second thing that happened is that my brain upped the ante by offering up what even my brain couldn’t disagree with. I mentioned these earlier. 1) I can’t call Max now because the kids are home 2) I’ll call Max after I’m done 3) I can’t call Max because it’s the weekend/or a holiday 4) I’m working on providing value for my clients, podcast listeners or working in general.


Here’s what I want you to know. The new excuses are really the old ones trying to sound more important. It’s still your brain trying to protect you by bringing up your most current reason for not doing stuff. That way it keeps you in that same safe place and you never have to do what seems uncomfortable. I absolutely love how the brain will do everything possible to avoid danger, seek pleasure and conserve energy. 


It does this by recycling old thoughts that have kept you safe and then by recycling your most recent limiting thoughts that keep you safe now. That means that my job is to be present in the moment so I can interrupt the default programing IF I want to. In this case, I do because I want the repairs done.


If you too notice “better” excuses coming up for to not do the thing, start with noticing the parts of those reasons that are left hanging. Those are usually unclear and we just agree with them b/c it’s super easy to agree with a vague statement than a precise one. In my case, if I take my first excuse “I can’t call Max now b/c the kids are home”, I’d like to find out why and how I might solve for that reason OR I can Ask yourself, even if these reasons are valid, how might I still call the person, do the thing?


Go ahead and consider the very reasonable reasons you aren’t doing the thing that would create the outcome you want in your life and question them, don’t just let them sit in your mind as a truth when it leaves you in inaction and further from what you want.


Remember I mentioned that I would let you in on how I view this entire brain gymnastics? This is the fun part. Yes all of these shenanigans and not calling Max may seem like I am going backwards or that there’s been a relapse but there hasn’t and here’s why.


This is what real progress looks like. It’s not a linear line upward, it has falls followed by greater leaps , slow and quick gains, all of it is the way it’s actually supposed to happen. The idea that you’ll work on something and it will be 100% solved after is not reality, at least not most of the time.  What is much more normal is that your brain will bring up your old BS under new more elegant pearls each and every time you up-level or are stepping into a new level of comfort regarding the thing it comes back. 


Here’s how that’s working out for me right now. I am creating a new identity for myself as we speak. I am stepping into the identity of an entrepreneur. While I do this, I am constantly putting myself in the discomfort of the new and for me, each time something is about to click into place, an old habit of limiting beliefs resurfaces, new levels are unearthed, the depth with which I address it increases and I become more solid in who I am from within and in my self trust. 


I get to congratulate myself for seeing my old habit come back faster than I ever have before. I get to appreciate that I can now move into action with more ease because I will have my back no matter what comes of this call, of this relationship with a contractor, all of it. I’ve been using projects as opportunities to make my relationship with myself unshakable and this is no exception.


That you notice old patterns coming back, that you have to work through them at a new level, totally normal.


In case you’re wondering, I did call Max and he is coming to assess the repairs that need to be done. 


I’d love to know about what progress looks like for you. You can find me over on instagram @dominiquevandal and tell me all about it!


Until next time, love to each and every One!


Thank you so much for listening to The Enneagram One Project podcast, your go-to podcast for all things One.


If you were inspired by today’s topic and would like to make a project or goal for yourself that revolves around it, I’d love to support you in my coaching program.


We’ll use this project to help you become fierce at making decisions you love. It’s a win-win; you’ll reach your goals with more efficiency and become super solid in how you make decisions resulting in a quieter inner critic and more self trust.


For more information, head over to my website dominiquevandal.com look at the top of the page for the work with me tab. Can’t wait to meet you!

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