September 15, 2013 11:37 am EDT
I've been asking myself a question for months: “What if I simply started to live my ideal life?”
The question was sparked primarily by Earl Nightingale and his talk, The Strangest Secret. In it he quotes six steps by Dr. David Harold Fink:
- Set yourself a definite goal.
- Quit running yourself down.
- Stop thinking of all the reasons why you cannot be successful and instead think of all the reasons why you can.
- Trace your attitudes back through your childhood and discover where you first got the idea that you could not be successful if that is the way you've been thinking.
- Change the image you have of yourself by writing out a description of the person you would like to be.
- Act the part of the successful person you have decided to become.
Steps five and six suggest writing specifically who I'd like to be, the ideal me, and then start living that way.
Seems simple. it is simple. But, for me, there were a few things holding me back. Six months or so later, I believe I've found the answers.
First was my self-image and the idea that I’d attached to that says that I'm emotionally deficient. I think the model of humans as having four aspects has much merit. We are body, mind, heart, and soul. I thought of it, in terms of me, like IQ. I have a high IQ, and thus the mind part of me, the cognitive part, is sound, exceptional even. And the soul, or spirit aspect is even higher as I've reached a place of awakening, of awareness, of enlightenment.
But the emotional part of me I saw as underdeveloped. I said to myself, many times, that I was cognitively and spiritually very evolved and capable but I was emotionally limited, that emotionally, I was like a twelve year old. This belief came primarily from something I learned in twelve step recovery, that when we are in our addictive behaviors we stop growing emotionally. It was further supported by the self-observation that saw that I seemed to feel more than most people, and that very often those strong feelings would hinder me, occasionally even paralyzing me. I knew I was one with God. I knew I was bright and talented. Yet I also believed I had not yet reached a point of emotional maturity and thus I’d be handicapped by that deficit.
I came to realize, just yesterday, that I needn't see my extreme emotionalism and sensitivity as a weakness. That I feel more and express more than most people doesn't make me less capable but indeed has the potential to make me more capable, especially in my chosen dream career of being a writer—a poet and a fiction writer, possibly writing songs and screenplays as well. Writing requires cognitive thought, surely, and much practice in honing the craft. But good writing also requires a strong foundation of emotion. Emotionless writing has little value.
In embracing my empathic self, my feeling and emotional and emotive self, and in reframing my thoughts about my emotionality as not a deficiency but indeed as a gift, I remove a huge barrier that’s kept me from living the life I have wanted to live. I can see myself as whole and complete and not as lacking or immature.
The second barrier in my thinking was my ideas about trust. While I'd accepted the lack of absolutes in other areas, for example, love versus fear. Even the most evolved and loving among us encounters fear. It’s the nature of humanity to be fearful. And it’s the challenge of humanity to be loving, transcending fear, overcoming fear. The point is that while absolute and unconditional love is a goal many strive for, none attain love in its most pure and perfect form, constantly and consistently. This I accepted, that I would be as loving as I could be as often and as much as I could be, and that would be enough.
But with regard to trust, my belief was in absolutes. I've had lots of great business ideas, lots of great book ideas, too. Only a few have survived my doubts. For I believed that in the presence of even a scant and minuscule measure of doubt, I had no trust. And without trust, trust in myself, trust in God, and trust in others, I believed, unconsciously, subconsciously, and consciously, that significant achievement was impossible. Trust was elusive because I could not hold it completely; it was eroded by doubt.
A couple days ago, though, my beliefs began to change. I saw trust as a continuum. I released myself from the unattainable goal of perfect trust by allowing myself moments or even days or weeks of doubt. Doubt may delay the reaching of the destination but it needn't preclude it. If my goal is to walk the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, and the first day I walk twenty miles, and the second fifteen, but on the third I feel too exhausted to continue, doubting I'll ever finish the 2,200 miles, that third day needn’t stop me. I might rest the entire day and then rethink my daily goal, for example, and decide to only walk ten miles per day. Even in a more extreme case, where I sprain my ankle and can't continue for weeks, I could choose to make camp and start anew after I've healed, or I could return home and go back to the trail a month hence, or the following year.
Doubt, when accepted as a part of the journey, needn't lead me to the idea that I have no trust in meeting my goal, or even insufficient trust in meeting my goal. And when accepted, I can begin to see that doubt can be a good and useful thing. My doubts can cause me to rethink the path to the goal. Healthy doubts (skepticism) can lead me to contemplation and to discovery of deeper and higher truths. Doubting old beliefs can lead to releasing those that no longer serve me and allow me to find new beliefs that serve me better.
With these revelations and realizations comes the ability in trusting in my own level of trust. My trust needn't be perfect in order for my trust to be sufficient, sufficient in leading me to the life I desire.
I see my doubts clearly and embrace them. Embracing Doubt. Perhaps that'll be my next book. (My other published books include Embracing Failure and Embracing Change.) My trust is sufficient, notwithstanding doubts, encompassing doubts. I have more trust than I have doubt and that is enough to allow me to live the life of my dreams and ideals.
I embrace my empathic nature, my elevated level of feeling. I'm grateful for being highly sensitive. My emotionality is a wonderful and divine gift that serves me in living a wonderful and divine life.
That’s a huge shift from where I was just a few days ago. Then I would have said “I don't trust enough in myself as evidenced by my doubts. I am emotionally immature and thus unable to have a truly stable and expanding life. I have big dreams that I can’t achieve because of my frequent doubts and my inability to control my underdeveloped emotions.”
Today I say: "I embrace my doubts. I celebrate my emotions. I love all of me, especially my healthy skepticism and my feeling nature."
And with this shift I'm able to practice and live the six steps above. I’m able, beginning today, to live the life of my dreams, healthy, fit, active, productive, creative, expansive, and connected with others. Each day I have time to work, time to walk, time to write, time to connect, and time to rest. Starting today. Starting now.
Freed from old beliefs, I become a new me.