I put on a pretty good game face.
For most of my life, I’ve strived to appear confident – that I know what I’m doing.
While in many cases it’s worked, not surprisingly, this is not always how I feel.
Here are some of the latest thoughts and questions running around in my head, struggling to pull me into a downward spiral.
The Destructive Seven…
What if I don’t reach my potential?
So I want to live a life where I self-actualize, where I do what I am truly capable of.
Trouble is: what if I don’t get there? What if I stay busy my whole life and even do some great work, and yet – never reach it?
First off: where is “there” and what is “it?” What does this question even mean?!
Like with many of the ideas that follow, I think I’m WAY over-analyzing this whole “potential” concept – I think it’s more of a moment-to-moment thing, rather than the contest I seem to view it as.
It’s like being able to lift a certain amount of weight: there’s a fixed number that represents my “potential” and I won’t be whole or complete until I hit that!
Maybe I need to…?
Maybe I need to write an eguide, or start a membership site, or launch a product, or write epic posts, or blog weekly, or… I think you get the picture.
I see so many examples of what other people are doing that I get caught up in “maybe I need to do that so I can have their results, so that I can be successful” – without stopping to think, “is that authentic for ME?” “Does that fire ME up?”
And yes: there’s a whole other conversation we could have around what “successful” means!
I can point to so many things (including parts of this site) that I’ve done because I thought “this is the way…” WITHOUT thinking about “what’s my intention with this?”
Is this coming from a place of insecurity (want to be liked/validated/valued or seen as smart/successful) or am I truly excited about sharing what I’m working on?
It’s great to be inspired by others; the trap is thinking you need to recreate what they’ve done to achieve their results.
Reminds me of a Joseph Campbell quote I’ll paraphrase:
If the path you’re walking is clearly laid out in front of you, that’s not your path. You’re following someone else. You must find your own way.
Is it OK if I’m not famous? If I’m not known on a large scale?
I think the desire to be known has partly driven the initial reason I’ve done some of the bigger projects in my life: that need to be validated, to be seen, and to be liked.
Big problem with this one: when will I know that I’ve reached fame? How many people need to know? When would I be satisfied?
Yeah, dangerous trap here.
At the core, the issue here is with being valued, and what I’ve been learning is that this starts from inside. When we truly love and value ourselves, it gives us a confidence and a knowing of our value, and we cease searching for that value in the world – lucky for us, because it ain’t out there!
What would make me happy? No, REALLY HAPPY?
Fun one: so let’s say I start doing or working on something that I enjoy.
Well that’s not enough: now I need to second-guess myself: does this really make me truly happy? Maybe I just thought this made me happy – or maybe I deem it “not important enough” to keep working on, even though I do enjoy it.
Talk about a battle that you can’t win.
Time to cut the over-analyzing and just follow the heart. It’s not lying. It doesn’t know how.
Who am I helping now?
I can’t seem to just be able to “do” something: everything needs to be tied to a larger cause. Whatever I’m doing just isn’t “good enough.”
I’m not allowed to just do something for me, especially if I don’t see where the payoff is for others.
Apparently, in my head, every hour of every day needs to be devoted to curing cancer, saving the environment, feeding the homeless – basically being the one who saves mankind. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but to need it to happen today – well, that would drive anyone insane.
Am I actually using my GREATEST GIFTS?
There’s a declaration I’ve been saying every day for over a year now:
I choose to connect to and express the Divine within me as I have fun giving my greatest gifts in the greatest service to the world.
Great sentiment, right? Can totally fire me up. Except when I get all heady about it…
Have I found my greatest gifts? What are they? Am I really using them? Will I know when I have them?
Again, it’s like there’s this fixed list out there (something reminiscent of the Ten Commandments) and at the top, chiseled into the stone is (booming God voice): “NATHAN’S GREATEST GIFTS” – and woe to me if I don’t start checking off when I’ve acquired each of them!
Will I make a difference? Will my life mean something?
I know this is something many of us wonder. Will anyone care when we’re gone? Will we be missed?
This notion that I won’t really ever help people and that whatever I’ve done in my life won’t matter. Ugh – I get a pit in my stomach just writing that. Definitely negative energy.
Now guess what? There’s NO WAY for me to know this, so it’s not worth thinking about. It’s like when I was acting on stage: sometimes you’d see stone-faced audience members and think “why do they hate this (or me)?” only to have them be the ones gushing with praise after the show. You just never know!
I need to just focus on MY work, what fills me with energy, and trust that it’s what I need to do. Sometimes we get the feedback that we’re helping; other times, we have no idea, and I guess that’s just part of the process.
Now here’s the crazy part:
I’m GRATEFUL for that list above.
Because here – it gives them voice.
It allows me to see them for what they are: irrational, ridiculous fears, with little basis in reality.
We can spend SO MUCH time stressing and thinking about this stuff or our worst-case scenario, and when we actually write it down, it’s easy to see that it’s usually not that bad, and sometimes, even silly.
When you’re engaged in work, this stuff never comes up! When I’m really excited and “in the moment,” I’m not thinking about ANY of those questions or worrying about what it all means!
One thing I’ve learned:
We need to use our powers for good.
I happen to be really good at puzzle solving and critical thinking – looking at things in different ways, really understanding how things work, and looking for the most effective and efficient way to get something done!
Definitely a GREAT skill when it comes to working on a creative project – using the power for good!
Using it for evil: turning this analytical mind on myself.
Over-analyzing everything thing I do, instead of going with the flow, and seeing what happens. The ego doesn’t like that – it needs something to hold onto, it likes having solid ground, yet life – it’s so much more interesting when we DON’T know what’s around the corner!
Here’s another part:
I don’t have many answers right now.
I’ve made my best guesses on the questions above. I’m still working on all this. Every now and then, I’ll arrive at a decent conclusion, and yet I still want to be open to new information.
Here’s what I do know about myself (without over-thinking it):
1. I want to keep traveling.
At no point over the last year of travel have I thought, “I’d like to just have my own place.” While I’ve stayed in amazing spots, I haven’t once thought about settling down. Funny enough – the departure has now become routine.
2. I want to meet and connect with people.
Some of my favorite moments in life have been with others. I even find myself smiling and laughing when I write emails – because I LOVE the connection.
I love hearing what people are up to, what they’re working on, personally or professionally. Having great conversations. Sharing food. Learning from one another.
3. I want to improve.
Every day – keep working on myself. Take care of myself. Do what I can to create my greatest life.
Are there a few more specifics? Yes – let’s not complicate things for right now, though. :-)
Do I know where this is headed? Do I know how this will turn into a multi-million-dollar business and how it will serve others? Nope.
It just sounds fun.
See, here’s the thing (’cause there’s always a thing):
I’m beginning to sense that life is really so much SIMPLER than what I’m making it out to be.
It’s not some ridiculous riddle or puzzle to solve.
Keep it simple.
Wouldn’t it be cool if it happened this way…
“I like yoga. I’m going to do more of that. Hey, I really like this – maybe I’d like teaching it. Wow, I do enjoy teaching! What’s that? You want me to teach at your studio, and you want to pay me large amounts of money to come to your house and train you? Sure!”
Where did that person start? With something fun, something enjoyed. That’s it.
Now obviously everything above doesn’t happen in one day, and does it matter? Isn’t it more about the journey and how we’ve grown and what we’ve done over the long-term? (Yes!)
(and that narrative above: true story!)
Do what makes you feel good. Start there. Go with that. Then, see what happens.
(I’m filing this under “as much for me as anyone else.”)
The rest, I’ve been told, will work itself out.
Thanks, as always, for reading – I appreciate you being part of the journey!
Now one question for you:
What thoughts or fears pull you down, and how do you overcome them?
I’d love to hear your answer + any other comments you have below.
Until next time,
thanks for the !
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