How Unrevealed Commitments Prevent You from Getting What You Want

RADA | Unrevealed Commitments


We are always reaching for our happiness, that sense of fulfillment, like it’s an elusive thing. Why can’t we just get what we want? What holds us back? In this solo episode, Dr. Tim Jordan shares how, oftentimes, what prevents us from getting what we want are those unrevealed commitments. These are the blocks within us that keep us from taking that step towards our goals. Discover what these unrevealed commitments are. Find out how we can overcome them. Let this conversation free you from the belts that tie you up and cage you from the life you dream of.

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How Unrevealed Commitments Prevent You from Getting What You Want

This particular episode was inspired by my talking with some college students. I was at a local university. I did an exercise with them that was interesting, and I want to explain it to you in just a moment. First, let me tell you a quick story. The topic is going to be talking about unrevealed commitments, things that tend to hold us back. The vision I have is someone standing and holding a bow and arrow, aiming for a target 20 yards away and saying, “That target means it’s my happiness, sense of fulfillment, finding my calling, and finding a dating partner. I keep falling short and getting frustrated. Why can’t I get what I say and want?”

Oftentimes, there’s an unrevealed commitment that’s more important than what we say we want. I heard a story a long time ago about this eagle’s egg that somehow ended up in this barnyard. It ended up in the nest of a chicken who was hatching her own little chickens. When the chickens came out and hatched, the eagle had hatched with the chickens. She grew up a chicken. This eagle would walk around the barnyard and flap her little wings. She would cluck and cackle like other chickens.

She would peck at grain and things on the ground. Sometimes, she would flap her wings, fly a few feet, and hit the ground. She lived like a chicken for her life. Many years passed until one day when she was an old eagle, she looked up into the sky and saw this beautiful creature flying overhead. She turned to one of her chicken friends. She said, “Who is that incredible creature?” The chicken said, “That’s the eagle. Eagle rules the sky. The eagle belongs to the sky. We just live here on the Earth because we’re chickens.”

The eagle shrugged her shoulders and thought, “I guess that’s the case.” This eagle lived the life of a chicken and died a chicken because that’s what she believed about herself. There are a lot of things that can get in the way of us and end up getting what we want in life. I did an exercise with the college students I was telling you about where I had someone come in the middle of the room.

I put a belt around them with four ropes that went to either corner of the room. I had four people holding onto those ropes tight. I blindfolded the woman in the center, and I said, “Your task is to pick up these four small objects I’m going to place around the room. You can’t see, but you have four guides. They can see and talk. They can’t touch you, but they can use their voice and ropes to guide you to pick up those objects. Let’s see how long it takes. Ready, set, go.”

This woman was pulled to one side of the room, and she found the object. She was putting her hands on the floor. It was fun. They’d pull her to another part of the room. They’d say, “No, to the right, to the left.” Eventually, she picked up all four of the objects. Normally, it takes about a minute and a half. We stop and say, “How was that?” She said, “It was hard because I couldn’t see and I was limited, but at least my guides did a good job.” I said, “Let’s do it again with one little change.”

I set back up, stood in the middle of four ropes, held tight, and instead of blindfolding the person in the middle, we blindfolded those four guides. I said, “You still have these four objects. I put them back around the room. Let’s see how long it takes for you to pick them up. Your guides now can’t talk and can’t see, but you can do whatever you want. You have no limits. Ready, set, go.”

What happened is the same thing happened where I’ve done this exercise more than 100 times with adults, college students, and high school students. What happens is the person in the middle starts dragging people around the room because she wants to pick up these things faster. She drags and picks up the first one, then she turns around and drags to the other side of the room. She’s dragging them around, and it’s chaos. She finally gets to the fourth one, and we say, “Stop. How long did it take? 33 seconds. Everybody take off your blindfolds, and let’s see what we can learn from this.”

I ask an important question. I say, “You did it much quicker that time. There’s a way you could have done it that would have made it a lot quicker and easier. How else do you think you could have done the exercise to pick up those four things?” Imagine those four things were important. Those objects on the floor were things like your happiness, fulfillment, finding a healthy mate, a lifelong mate, or maybe finding your calling, your career, a job that has purpose and meaning.

If that was true, how could you have done it differently, more easily, and more quickly? In many years that I’ve been doing that exercise, no one’s ever said, “I could have taken off the belt.” Not one person ever. Occasionally, when we ask the question, someone might say that. It’s never happened with the person in the middle. I say, “Why do you think you didn’t think about taking off the belt? You could have taken off, walked around, picked those things up, and it probably would have taken you twenty seconds.” I get all kinds of excuses, “You didn’t tell us. The first time, we did it differently.”

Mirror Neurons

I say, “What did I say to you? I said they couldn’t see and talk, but you had no limits. You could do anything you wanted.” It’s a great metaphor for how much we have learned and been conditioned in our lifetime to overestimate what others can do for us or what we need others to do for us and how much we underestimate what we can do for ourselves.

We have learned and been conditioned in our lifetime to overestimate what others can do for us or what we need others to do for us and how much we underestimate what we can do for ourselves. Click To Tweet

The discussion after that exercise is about what your potential ropes are or some things that you are allowing to hold you back. What are your unrevealed commitments, things that you’re unconsciously making more important than getting what you want? That’s what we’re going to talk about for the rest of this episode.

One of the things that I’ve noticed in girls and women is that one of their most common ropes and unrevealed commitments is their need for approval, their desire to not disappoint people. Oftentimes, that means their parents. It could also mean professors, teachers, and the other adults in their lives. Girls spend a lot of energy externally worrying about what other people think, comparing themselves, wanting to fit in, and wanting to be accepted. Because of that, that can become a rope for them because they’re not doing what they want.

They’re not doing what makes them happy. They’re doing what makes other people happy. That can be something that holds them back from not getting what they want. They have to make sure other people are okay with them, not making other people upset, and the need for approval. I wonder if any of the moms reading this have that same issue in their lives. I’ve asked that question in audiences of moms and college student females. Almost every hand in the room goes up, that fear of losing someone’s approval.

There’s a part of our brain called mirror neurons that I’ve talked about in the previous episode. It’s always scouting everybody around us, noticing what people are doing and saying, what’s appropriate, what’s not, and what the social mores are. Oftentimes, those mirror neurons can get us in trouble because it cause or can cause us to compare ourselves and almost always unfavorably.

That’s one of the ropes. That’s one of the unrevealed commitments, spending way too much time and energy worrying about other people and what they think. Are they upset with us? Are they going to be approved for what I’m doing? Are they going to be disappointed? We may hold ourselves back from making decisions that are best for us based on those unrevealed commitments.


Another huge unrevealed commitment is fear of being judged. I’ve seen a lot of girls who have interests that are different than their friends and family. They’re worried about being judged as being weird or never going to make it. I’ve had so many girls tell me that their parents have dissuaded them from becoming artists, writers, or even teachers because you can’t make enough money. It is the fear of making a mistake.

I talked about this in an episode about all the uncertainty and the fears that young adults go through. What if I make “one wrong decision?” I picked the wrong major my first or second year in college. My first job wasn’t what I liked. I moved to a city, and I don’t like it. They’re so worried that, “If I make one wrong choice, it’s going to totally mess up my whole life.” Because of that, they will become paralyzed. They say that they want this, but they’re stuck because they’re so afraid of making a mistake and not doing it right.

As we all know, there’s only one way to do it. There’s only one right path, which is ridiculous, but that’s what kids have been taught. That’s what they’ve been absorbing. There’s also that fear of getting out on those skinny limbs, getting out of your comfort zone, and doing something that’s different, something you haven’t done before. It’s scary. Sometimes, they go out of their comfort zones and do something different, moving to a new city, trying a different job, trying a different activity, and changing teams.

The fears that we have can certainly cause us to miss our mark and to hold us back. It can become a very important rope. I talked to my uncertainty show about the fears that come up when we have choices. That freedom means choices, but it also means I can make a bad choice or if I make the wrong choice. Along with choices and freedom comes uncertainty and anxiety about all of that.

The fears that we have can certainly cause us to miss our mark and hold us back. Click To Tweet

I mentioned in an episode that the price of freedom is oftentimes anxiety, and that can become a rope. You’re so anxious that you end up not doing anything or fear doing it wrong. There’s also a rope and an unrevealed commitment that is called good girl conditioning. I’m going to do a whole episode on this sometime in the near future. Girls are still being conditioned now to have that good girl conditioning, which means you’re supposed to be nice, polite, wait your turn, not stand out, not be too out there because you’ll be judged if you are, lead quietly from behind, and put other people’s needs first.

There’s a lot of that that girls are absorbing. If you don’t think that’s true, I’ve made lists over and over again of girls in schools as young as middle school, “What are some of the things that you have learned to describe a good girl, the girl that your parents and all the adults around you want you to be?” and they make the same list. Those are limiting.

Oftentimes, it reveals stereotypes we have about females and women. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t be too out there. Don’t push too hard because you’ll be labeled as being too aggressive or the B-word. That good girl conditioning also sets women up, girls and women, for what they call the Imposter syndrome. I want to read to you a quote from Cassandra Speaks, a book that I did an episode months ago.

The author has a nice quote, and it goes like this, “The imposter syndrome was first coined by psychologist Pauline Clance and Suzanne Ims in 1978. They defined it as a feeling of phoniness in people who believe they’re not intelligent, capable, or creative. Even though all the people they studied were objectively intelligent, capable, and creative. People live in fear. They feel they’re going to be found out.”

It’s interesting that men can suffer from Imposter syndrome, but women are much more likely to suffer from this. Men oftentimes overvalue what they bring to the table, whereas women oftentimes judge their own performances as worse than they are. They undervalue themselves and undersell themselves. That can hold you back. That can become a rope.

If you have Imposter syndrome and you feel like, “I don’t deserve this, or I don’t think I’m ready for this. Other people are more right than I am,” you’ll tend to hold back and not push forward and go for it because of that. Also, along the same wavelength, there are some old definitions of things like power, courage, and leadership. I wrote a book called She Leads, where I talked about how to help girls develop leadership skills, how to create the life that they want, and to be in charge of their lives.

I talked about how if you ask girls, which I’ve done a million times, who the heroes in our society are and who the heroes in our culture are, they always mention the same people, first responders, soldiers, and top professional athletes, people like that. Even though those are the people who are up on the pedestal as heroes, almost none of the girls I work with fit that mold. What they undervalue is other kinds of heroes or other kinds of women who are being brave, heroic leaders, but they’re not out there in the public eye putting out a fire or going off to war.

We need to redefine our definition of leadership. It’s not about George W. Bush standing on the aircraft carrier saying, “Mission accomplished.” Leadership can look like collaboration. It can look like trusting your gut and trusting your intuition, listening to people, using your intuition, and bringing people together. Those definitions of leadership aren’t valued as much as the macho old-school masculine forms of pride, aggression, winning, competition, being on top, and those sorts of things.

I read a story in an article. I can’t remember what magazine it was. It was many years ago about Meghan Markle. I thought it was revealing. When she was a kid one time, which I think she was in the sixth grade, she was in South Africa. There’s a census that came around that she had to fill out in class, and one of the questions that she had to mark off a box was, “What’s your ethnicity?” There’s a box for White, Black, Latino, and Asian. Meghan Markle’s dad is Caucasian, and her mom is African-American or Black.

She was confused, “Which block do I pick? If I pick the block that’s the Caucasian block, then I’m turning my back on my mom. If I check the box that’s for Black, then I’m turning my back on my dad.” She was stuck. She didn’t know what to do, and the teacher came by and said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “I don’t know what box to check.” The teacher said to her very curtly, “You look like you’re White, so just check that box.”

She walked off, and Meghan didn’t like that answer, so she left it blank. When she went home that night, she told her dad about what had happened. Her dad said something to her that I think was smart. He said, “The next time something like that happens, you draw your own box. You make your own box.” How often do our girls hear that advice? I don’t think very often.

I want there to be different definitions of things like leadership, power, and courage so the girls start to see themselves in those roles. Thus, they are much more likely to go for it and not fall short of their target. Another role I see sometimes in people, another unrevealed commitment, is the need to be right and in control. Sometimes, their need to be right becomes much more important than their need to be close to someone.

Old Limiting Beliefs

Some of the women I’ve worked with are having a hard time finding a healthy relationship with a dating partner because they’re much more invested in being right than they are in being close. That can cause a problem in your relationship. Another big rope that can hold people back is one of the most important ones. Another unrevealed commitment is our old limiting beliefs about ourselves. Here’s another story.

I had read somewhere about this little lion cub that somehow got lost from his pride. He wandered off, and the pride moved on. He walked all day and found himself in the midst of this big group of sheep. They welcomed him into whatever you call a big group of sheep. He grew up with these sheep, and he thought he was a sheep. He would bleed and walk around with them, until one day, this lion came walking up who was hungry.

He noticed this lion in the middle of the sheep. He said, “What are you doing here with these sheep?” This sheep lion said, “That’s because I’m a sheep.” The lion said, “You’re not a sheep. You’re a lion.” The sheep lion said, “No, I’ve grown up with these. I’m a sheep.” The old lion said, “Come follow me. I’ve got to show you something.” He walked this sheep-lion over to this pond. He said, “Look in the water. Look at your reflection.”

When that sheep lion looked in the water and saw her reflection, she was startled at first, and then she heard this mighty, loud roar. In that moment, she was transformed. I wish it was that easy for us to reframe our negative beliefs about ourselves. I have worked with young people and adults in retreats for many years, and many people are being held back in their lives because of a belief that may have happened because they lost their friends, a loss in their lives, and because they were criticized a lot at home.

They entered adulthood with beliefs from childhood about not being good enough, not being lovable, there’s something wrong with them, they’re not important, people don’t care, and they can’t trust people. If you have those sorts of beliefs within your body and you’re acting out of those belief systems, it’s going to become a hugely important rope that can hold you back.

It will keep you from stretching and going for what you want because if you have a belief system that says, “I’m not important. I’m not good enough,” you’re going to fall short. It’s so important that people become aware of any old limiting beliefs about themselves, whether it’s through some writing, journaling, or through some counseling, that they reframe those. They go back to their childhoods, and they have a better sense of it, so it doesn’t limit them from moving forward.

That is a common rope that people have that holds them back. I did an episode several months ago. In that episode, I interviewed four high school girls. They were seniors. I interviewed them about why they’re so upset about becoming adults and why they don’t want to grow up. They talked a lot about how they didn’t want the responsibility of having to make choices, make decisions, and be the only one who’s accountable for it. You make those choices now. “It’s not mommy and daddy’s fault. It’s my responsibility. It’s my fault.”

It’s also your touchdown point when you make good choices and make good decisions, but not being willing to be responsible and not being willing to grow up can hold some people back. Go back and read that episode. I won’t go into it now because I spent a whole 30 minutes or so talking about that with these young women. There are some people who also have a rope and an unrevealed commitment about resistance and being in power struggles with people.

They’re still rebelling. They may be 25 years old or 30 years old, and they’re still in rebellion mode because they don’t want people to tell them what to do. They want to be in control. They may have come from a background where that was important for a lot of reasons. They had controlling family and parents. They weren’t allowed to make choices for themselves, and they ended up responding by pushing back and rebelling.

They get a sense of power from rebelling and saying, “You can’t make me,” but in essence, they’re still giving their power away because they’re not making choices and doing things for themselves because it’s what’s right for them. They’re too focused on pushing back. There are still some adults who have that as a rope. There’s a whole huge category of unrevealed commitments that have to do with things like systemic racism, gender issues, and stereotypes, which I don’t want to get into in this episode because that’s a whole episode in and of itself. Know that can become an unrevealed commitment. That’s not your responsibility.

There are a lot of things that can hold people back because of systemic issues, things that we haven’t quite undone yet. I mentioned about giving power away. That does become a rope for some people. I’ve seen a lot of girls who grew up because of the good girl conditioning and, for other reasons, who have a hard time advocating for themselves. When people say, “Where do you want to go out to eat tonight?” their automatic response is, “I don’t care. Where do you want to go? Whatever you want,” which isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to be agreeable.

Needing To Be Liked

Sometimes, they’re more invested in being likable and people not being mad at them than they are in putting out their ideas and letting people know what they need and what they want. If you’re not putting out to other people what your needs are and what you want, you’re not going to get it. I’ve seen a lot of girls become women who have given up asking for what they want for so long. They no longer know what they want. They’ve lost touch with who they are because they’ve been doing so much for other people, so much to please others, for others’ approval, and to not disappoint other people, as I mentioned.

If you're not putting out to other people what your needs are and what you want, you're not going to get it. Click To Tweet

I read a book called The Likeability Trap by Alicia Menendez. It’s an interesting book where she talks about how women have been conditioned to need to be liked. Sometimes, that holds them back in the workplace from putting their ideas out there and being assertive because what’s more important than being assertive and asking for what you want and having your voice heard is to be liked. That can become a rope that can hold a girl or a woman back.

Girls have gotten a message from that good girl conditioning that they’re supposed to not be too out there. If you’ve been told your whole life that you’re supposed to be nice, be polite, and wait your turn, oftentimes, in a sense, you’ve been conditioned to be silent and not put yourself out there. That obviously can become a rope. That can become an unrevealed commitment that you’d rather be liked and approved of than for you to go for what you want and put your ideas out there.

Family Background

Two more unrevealed commitments, one of them is your family background, issues in your family, and the modeling you got from your parents. I know I grew up in a family where I always say we did not have an abundant mentality but a lack mentality. There was never enough money. I had seven siblings. My dad worked long hours. We grew up middle class. We all went to good schools because my parents sacrificed everything because they wanted us to get an education.

There were never extras. Money was always tight, like if I asked my mom for something like I needed a new pair of shoes for football or some skates for hockey because mine were too small. My brother’s football shoes had holes in the bottom one year. I was always wearing hand-me-downs. The message I got was, “Who do you think your father is, Nelson Rockefeller? Do you think money grows on trees?”

The message I got was if you were a good boy, you wouldn’t ask for what you want. You would keep quiet and suffer. I grew up with a lack mentality, and that’s not a great way to go through life. I had to revisit that as an adult. I want to have an abundance mentality, which is that there’s more than enough out there. It’s okay to ask for what you want. The modeling your parents gave may be about settling, keeping it safe, or being conservative.

That could become a rope that holds you back because you didn’t see it modeled to do it a different way. Last but not least, an unrevealed commitment or a rope that can hold you back from getting what you want, is a lack of quiet alone time where you can think, reflect, and soul search, where you can become in touch with your intuition and your gut. “What is my heart saying?” You’re not going to know what your heart or intuition is saying unless you can quiet yourself down, touch in, and hear that inner voice.

Also, to hear those urges, that inner voice saying, “You should try this. Do this experience. Make this phone call.” Our young people now are not learning to be quiet and alone and to think through things. What they’re learning to do is to hook into their devices and be distracted. They’re experts at distraction, and so are we adults. We’re no more innocent of that than they are, but they’re not learning to have that quiet time for reflection, soul searching, and contemplation. We had more time for that in the old days. There’s a cost to that, which is we’re not going to be tuned into what we want, what’s important to us, and what’s right for us, and that can become a rope.

A lot of our best choices are made from trusting our gut and following our urges. If you’re not in tune with that, you’re going to miss opportunities. You’re going to miss cashing in on experiences that cross your path that you ignore because you’re not tuned in. We’ve got to teach our daughters how to do that, to have and to savor alone quiet time.

Awareness: Revealing Unrevealed Commitments

Here’s a story which I told a while back in an episode. It’s one of my favorite stories about this man who went to Africa. He hired a whole bunch of Sherpas to carry all of his things. He was going to do some mining, looking for diamonds. On the first day, they left and marched hard all day long. They got to the camp, and the Sherpas were exhausted. The next day, the same. After 4 or 5 days of hard and forced marching, the Sherpas were exhausted.

That night, they fell asleep. The next morning, the guy who was hiring them tried to get them to come and wake up to move again, and they wouldn’t. They refused to get up and march. The man went to the leader. He said, “What’s going on?” He said, “Why won’t they march?” The leader of the Sherpa said, “They can go no farther until their souls have caught up with their bodies.” Isn’t that a truism for what’s going on now for us as adults, our children, our teenagers, and our young adults?

It’s important for all of us, but I’m talking mostly about young adult children. It’s important they become aware of any unrevealed commitments that might be already or could hold them back. Awareness is huge. It’s when you’re unaware of what’s driving you, motivating you, or holding you back. That’s what causes the problems. The awareness piece is huge because then, if you’re aware of it, you can do some things to overcome it and look at things in a different way.

For instance, good girl conditioning and those old limiting beliefs. You become aware of the Imposter syndrome. You can talk about it and get it out there. There are things we can do so that those unrevealed commitments become revealed then lose their power over us. That’s the key. We take charge. They no longer are in charge of us. Now, we’re in charge of our thoughts, our beliefs, and what drives us. We’re in charge of our motivations and what we’re committed to.


RADA | Unrevealed Commitments


If you’re falling short of your target, or if your air is not quite reaching that round target, there’s something that’s become more important unconsciously that’s holding you back. There’s a rope that’s pulling you back from you getting what you want. Take some quiet time to become aware of what those ropes might be in your life. You need to go to some counseling to have a counselor help you bring those to the surface and to deal with them. That’s so important for our young people. It’s important before they go off into the world and before they leave the nest. It’s important for all of us, no matter what age we are and at what stage we are, to make sure that those things aren’t holding us back and keeping us from getting what we want in life.

I am so grateful that you’re reading. I’ll be grateful if you pass these on. My readership has been increasing a lot in months, and I appreciate that. I know it’s because a lot of you are turning some of your friends on to the show. I will be back with another episode. Until then, as a famous doctor in the ‘50s always said, “Parents, relax. You’re probably doing a better job than you think you are.” That’s true for most of us. Take care. I’ll be back.


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