One of my readers sent me an email which got me thinking about the frustrations of many individuals who have done EVERYTHING RIGHT yet still feel as if their life isn’t working. Yes, they got the degree or degrees in some cases. Yes they got the job with the great salary. Yes they are comfortable materially, yet they feel as if there is something latent that wants to be expressed. This is how the reader described that feeling: “The search for knowing self and wanting so bad the wisdom for life in general began after I finished my CXC exams and was in a dazed mode back then. I knew back then and still feel it today that there is this burning fire within that wants to evolve but is buried by all the constraints we give our own selves you spoke about.”
I must admit that for a long time I felt like this. I wish I could say I floundered for months trying to figure it out but it took years, starting back in secondary school. I was making choices based on a system that was already in place. When it came time to choose my direction it was either the sciences or languages. I chose the sciences. After A levels and working for a bit, all my friends were heading to The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. I followed. A choice was made, not necessarily about what I wanted but what seemed normal – the thing to do – get a degree. I didn’t get the degree. My life continued after with a series of “Yes! This is it!” and subsequent flops “I thought that was it…”
It was a mystery to me until I finally started to trust myself and determine what was keeping me stuck and holding me back.
Today what I know for sure is that unless the fundamentals are in place you are never going to access that “fire within” that needs to be expressed and burn brightly in the world. Without trust in ourselves, we’re so full of ideas of how we are SUPPOSED to be that we don’t even understand WHO WE ARE.
MJ Ryan, author of Trusting Yourself says “Each of us is unique, and we are here to grow that uniqueness for the benefit of all.” Joseph Campbell said the spiritual imperative to be ourselves is so strong that the soul would rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s. To begin to cultivate greater trust in ourselves, we must turn inward, and look at ourselves without fearing what we will discover, without minimising our gifts, or beating ourselves up for our learned self-destructive patterns.
A young adult with mental health challenges recently shared that she no longer wanted to feel ashamed about her issues. For a long time she felt uncomfortable sharing her situation with close friends. But now she’s not. She realised that if she didn’t accept herself, that she would be forever imprisoned by her secret. All her energy would have been channelled into hiding her issues. When we use our energy to hide parts of ourselves we miss opportunities and chances to show up authentically in the world and receive what’s already there for us to bloom and blossom.
Entrepreneur Ishita Gupta recently shared this in an email “Before I understood how to believe in myself, no matter what opportunities came my way, I simply couldn’t take advantage of them. The best things in the world landed on my doorstep, but I couldn’t access them. When all you feel is anxiety and fear, no amount of opportunity can *really* come your way — not the big career, the great relationship, not the adventurous life. None of it is accessible.”
Self-trust is a virtue, and just like patience it’s all but lost. It is a combination of three emotional and spiritual qualities: self-awareness, the accurate assessment of WHO WE ARE and what we care about; self-acceptance, the embracing of who we are in all our complexity; and self-reliance, the ability to use what we know about ourselves to get the results we want in our lives without constant worry about the approval or disapproval of others.
Think about that fire buried deep within you…what is it that you’re yearning to say “YES” to? The fire is your passions, your wants and your desires. When you begin to stoke that fire it will bring joy, lift your spirits and enliven your heart. Dr Frumi Rachel Barr says our zest and our joie de vivre, come from the yeses we say in our lives. To find our yeses, we have to trust that we are worthy of receiving our heart’s desire and capable of discovering what will make us happy.
But instead of saying “YES!” and failing forward, we often over-agonise regarding decisions, wanting to be perfect. I love Rich Schefren’s definition of perfectionism. Now let me tell you that I love things to be perfect. So when I read this it shook me to my core BUT it got me thinking and reassessing my own needs around perfection. He said “perfectionism is trying to get the world to believe something about you that you don’t believe about yourself.” After contemplating this definition I wondered about what I was trying to prove, to whom and why? MJ Ryan says perfectionism carries a huge price – in the ways we treat ourselves, our spouses, and our kids. Perfectionism keeps our world small because it doesn’t allow us to learn and therefore grow. We agonize over decisions in advance because we are so afraid of doing it wrong. We hold others to impossible standards, and we’re fearful we’ll be discovered to be an impostor.
When we trust ourselves, we know that we are GOOD ENOUGH AS WE ARE. We are not fearful of making a mistake because we know we’ll survive and maybe even grow from the experience. All that is being asked of us is to be as real as we can be and to become fully ourselves and to offer that fullness to the rest of the world. When we do this, we will NEVER feel as if we failed