The Gatekeeper Mentality
Why is it that we often feel like we need permission to start something great, to embark on a new adventure, to try on a new style, to do something differently, to go to a new place?
Feeling like I need permission to do almost anything has plagued me for most of my life.
I often get stuck in this notion that I have to ask and get the “okay” from a “Gatekeeper” in my life before I can do something.
And a Gatekeeper can be just about anything. It can be a parental figure, someone from within the education system, an ideology from someone we admire online, a philosophy from a book, and so on.
To an extent, it’s natural: as we grow up, we have to listen to parental and school figures to tell us what to do and what we can and can’t do. We need certain frameworks to help shape us to be (partially) decent human beings.
But sometimes, we hit a point in our life when the “shackles come off,” but in some areas of our live, we don’t realize that we can do whatever we choose to.
It’s the same idea as the elephant born tied to a stake in the ground. When it’s born, it doesn’t have the strength to pull the stake out. As it gets older, the elephant has more than enough strength to pull it free, but because it was conditioned at such an early age, it doesn’t think it has the ability to free itself – and therefore, doesn’t try.
It’s not easy to rewire one’s thoughts and beliefs unless you are aware of what’s happening, or that something feels off and you want to make a change.
The Gatekeepers in my life are what slow me down so much.
And while I recognize that there are some actual Gatekeepers in some of our lives – teachers, bosses, educational practices, rules, regulations, laws, I also know that the biggest and most influential Gatekeepers (in my life) are not even real.
The worst Gatekeeper in my life is my own set of beliefs.
That I’m not allowed to do certain things.
That I’m not capable of certain things.
That someone has to give me the okay to do X or Y.
That someone has to tell me it’s okay to believe A, B, or C.
That I have to hear “that sounds cool” before I even attempt a new idea.
That I have to do things the same way it’s always been done.
And most of the time, when it comes to a Gatekeeper Mentality, it’s often times not true or at least only a temporary state of being or situation.
The Gatekeeper Mentality is when we get locked into a way of thinking – that things are a set way and can’t be changed. That we must do things the way they’ve always been done.That the struggles we face will be with us forever. That it’s up to someone else to tell us we can do it.
I don’t know what the best solution is to overcoming the Gatekeeper Mentality beyond simply trying to do things without getting that “permission” from someone else. Doing things by giving ourselves permission first, even if it goes against what’s “supposed” to be done.
In reality, though, when faced with the Gatekeeper Mentality – something that is 100% in our control – we have to recognize that we are the Gatekeepers ourselves, and we can choose to let ourselves do or not do.
And in that light, we have to realize that the Gate doesn’t actually exist – it’s just a belief, a way of thinking things are the way that they are (or aren’t).
If we can learn to let go of or change some of the beliefs that others dictate what we can and can’t do, then we can unleash who we really are and embrace opportunities in the world that many can only dream of.
The more we can learn to change or get rid of locked Gates (beliefs) in our world, the less we rely on Gatekeepers to tell us we can pass, or not.
When we get rid of or ignore the Gatekeepers in our own world, at least the imagined Gatekeepers, it becomes our own responsibility to give us the permission to pass through certain gates.
And eventually WE become the Gatekeepers, setting up new Gates to block out harmful beliefs and thought patterns from entering our life.
It’s worth taking a moment to consider what Gates and beliefs are dictating our life. If we can identify what’s holding us back, we can make strides to find ways around it. And in some cases, we can recognize that the Gate is nothing more than a piece of string tied to a stake. And that we already have the strength within us to free ourselves.
Are we letting ourselves be funneled somewhere, or are we consciously choosing where we’re going?