The Naked One

Lately I’ve been feeling stifled. And overwhelmed. And to be honest, a teeny tiny bit lost, frustrated, and desperate. There are several reasons for this, which I’m now going to list in an effort to untangle the jungle of interlocking, confusing thoughts that has taken over my brain. I’ve been avoiding this post for a few weeks now but since no progress has been made it seems inevitable, and as the wonderful Caroline Leon says, getting naked is the way forward, so here goes:

  1. I have no idea what my vision is for this blog. I know that it’s something I have to do, but I don’t know why, or how, or what the point of it is, which is adding to my writing fears as I’m not sure what I should be writing about
  2. I have a lot of interests that I am pursuing at the moment, all of which seem to demand way more time than I have in order to really be worth doing, and none of which I want to give up
  3. For all the vision-seeking exercises and brainstorming and inspirational reading I am doing, I am still no closer to knowing what I want to be doing with my life, and I’m starting to fear that I’ll never figure it out and have to stay stuck in mediocrity and dissatisfaction FOR EVER

Right. I’ll start with Number 1. The worst thing that can happen is that I become so paralysed that I stop writing altogether, so in order for that not to happen I’m going to give myself free rein to write whatever the hell I feel like writing about, even if that means that no one reads it anymore and people leave me comments saying I suck.

At the start of the year, I decided that 2012 was going to be the year that I would finally bust though my remaining fears and blockages, and begin to really pursue the kind of life I have always wanted; the kind of person I always wanted to be. I started this blog because I felt it was just something I had to do; my main motivations were to help me focus more on my personal development and to connect with the inspiring community of bloggers doing awesome shit that I want to do too, in keeping with my resolution for this year.

I think I need to go back to the beginning, stop trying so hard to find my niche, and just go with wherever my mind takes me.

On to Number 2. Stuff I’m doing (outside of working full-time and commuting):

  • learning to sing (lesson every week + practice)
  • playing guitar and singing with my almost-band
  • writing songs
  • running, cycling, working out, yoga
  • meditating
  • reading many clever books
  • listening to clever podcasts
  • watching TED videos and other informative films
  • reading informative and insightful blogs
  • learning Italian
  • building up my BES Business
  • blog writing
  • book writing

I love all of these things, and would love to be doing even more, but the last few weeks I’ve found myself feeling extraordinarily resistant to pursuing any of them. The best example is the band. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a badass rocker in a badass rock group, and here I am with things finally starting to fall into place and I’m considering giving it up. The first reason that came to me is the obvious ‘I’ve got too much on my plate and I need to prioritise’ one, but that didn’t seem to fit so I dug a little deeper and it turns out I have somehow managed to attach a ‘should’ even to this. Somehow (startlingly quickly) it changed from ‘this is AWESOME!’ to ‘I should do this’.

Unfortunately I’m the kind of person who hears ‘should’ and runs the other way, so this doesn’t really work as a motivational tactic for me. The word ‘should’ is bound up with external expectations for me – something I am highly allergic to – and as soon as I think it there is nothing I want more in the world than to not do it.

Remember my philosophy of “It should be fun“? Even that has than damn word in it! I really don’t know why I do this but it’s clear that it has to stop. Immediately. All my activities are fun, so it’s just a question of adjusting my attitude, chucking out the ‘shoulds’, and approaching everything as fun.

The time issue is a worrisome one though as I feel like I should want to invest more time in writing, but unless someone invents a sleep-replacement pill this means cutting time from other activities. The thing is, this story is getting old – I’ve been moaning about this problem for years and the only advice I’m given is that I “have to choose” and I “can’t have everything” because “it’s not realistic”. I am SO SICK of hearing those phrases. And you know what? I think that mostly I waste time and become paralysed (and hence am less productive and efficient with the time I have at my disposal) because I have unwittingly absorbed this dubious wisdom over the course of my life and my mind recites it with increasing frequency the more projects I take on, thereby turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. An alternative tactic could be to increase focus, change the way I organise my time and divide my activities, and allow myself to do all the things I want to do without temporal pressure.

So my new mantra is: I have enough time to do everything I love.

Fearful, worrying, nagging mind, I hereby shun you and your self-righteous bullshit.

Number 3. My “purpose”, my “calling”, my “raison d’être” remains highly elusive, and it’s pissing me off. I mean seriously universe, I’m really trying here…throw me a damn bone already! I think maybe here also I need to take a break from the seeking and just deepen what I’m already doing with my Bach Essence Consulting. The other day I changed my question from “What do I want to do” to “How can I help people” and felt one of those little sparks in my tummy – you know the ones that tell you you’re onto something? Helping people makes me really, really happy…and I’m already doing that with my consulting. So maybe if I just focus on that for now it will lead me where I need to go.

I used to think I was alone in feeling so lost about my purpose, but the more I speak about it, the more people tell me they feel the same. Are we overwhelmed by the choices that this immensely diverse age offers? Or are we just so disconnected from our hearts that we can’t hear what they whisper to us? We live at a time where many of us have the luxury of being in a position to ask ourselves what makes us happy, and we often seem to have very little idea of what that might be. It’s often the case that when we stop searching, the thing we were looking for falls right into our laps. Could sitting still without questioning be the cure for our restless generation?

 

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21 thoughts on “The Naked One

  1. Hey, you don’t suck :) There’s doubtless nothing more useful to read than someone sharing such a common struggle, because once you get past the mantras and T-shirt slogans synonymous with self improvement, all you’re left with is yourself, your struggles and your doubts. I hope you continue to write like you don’t give a shit who reads; I’m curious what you might say. :)

    Keep diggin’ rock chick; être without reason… :)

    Gx

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  2. Hey Steph, Alan here.

    I remember seeing this Life purpose exercise a while ago & I found it both simple & effective in helping me get some clarity + focus, so thought I should share. :)

    “1. List two of your unique personal qualities, for example enthusiasm and creativity.

    2. List one or two ways you enjoy expressing those qualities when interacting with others, for example to support and to inspire.

    3. Assume the world is perfect right now. What does this world look like? How is everyone interacting with everyone else? What does it feel like? Write your answer as a statement, in the present tense, describing the ultimate condition, the perfect world as you see it and feel it. Remember a perfect world is a fun place to be.

    (example: Everyone is freely expressing their own unique talent. Everyone is working in harmony. Everyone is expressing love.)

    4. Combine the three prior subdivisions of this paragraph in to a single statement.

    (example: My purpose is to use my creativity and enthusiasm to support and inspire others to freely express their talents in a harmonious and loving way.)

    Once you have determined and written down your life purpose, read it everyday, preferably in the morning. If you want you may draw or paint a symbol or picture that represents your life purpose and then hang it somewhere Where you will see it everyday. This will keep you focused on your purpose. Now that you have clarity on what your life purpose is, you can organise all of your activities around it. Everything should be an expression of your purpose. If an activity doesn’t fit that formula, you wouldn’t work on it. Period.”

    Mine is: “My purpose in life is to use my creativity & awareness to create experiences & insight in order to promote Love & Understanding in the now.”. :)

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    1. Hey Alan, thank you so much for sharing the exercise and your personal purpose..it’s beautiful :) I like how general you can make the statement, think that would be a good grounded vision for me to have right now. Thank you!

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          1. Ok, so I’ve just done the exercise you suggested Alan, this is what I got:

            My purpose is to combine my ability to see other people’s truth with my nurturing quality and life-engagement to hold the space for them to evolve into their full potential in order to live authentic, conscious, compassionate, healed lives.

            Yay! I’m really happy with that, going to see how it sits the next few days and if anything else comes up.
            Thank you! :)

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  3. Whooooooboy have I been there, and am only now dragging myself out of it. Those feelings you expressed for me made me feel just down-right dirty. To be knowledgeable of your desires, if not needs, to do something meaningful for yourself or the world, and to yet not be doing it, is perhaps the worst kind of cognitive dissonance. Tell me, does it ever make you feel guilty for spending time on pure carnal pursuits? (Like reading non-clever books, watching non-clever shows, just being lazy). It did me. And it was a crying shame and devastation to my inner peace, despite how aware I was of what I needed for it.

    This was a struggle for me, with no magic bullets, but there were some realizations or thought gimmicks that helped. Number one, I realized that I owed life something that isn’t on your list and wasn’t mine. By the simple fact that I was alive, I owed life the ability to simply sit the fuck down and taste, smell, feel it. I owed myself the lazy saturday, the dumb movie. They are part of life’s cornucopia, and I shouldn’t insult the bounty. If a feeling of obligation is an issue, then at least that’s baby steps in the right direction, a mind-trick if one will.

    I also learned to admit that my crazy idealistic notions come at a price. If I want to pursue awesome idea X, I must put the hard work and time into it. For me, that hard work may simply mean waiting. And during that waiting, what better thing to do than relax and enjoy it? When looking at it from this perspective, it’s a bit easier to realize that waiting is in fact part of the plan. Just make it “intentional” waiting hah.

    About that niche, I’m not sure. I guess I’ve always had a slight direction for the direct time in front of me, but I guess my plan has always simply been “to do.” That’s ok with me. I’m going with what I’ve got, and as long as I keep my momentum, I’ll inevitably at least go through the path of least resistance.

    It’s interesting to read this from you though. Although I think many ponder the things you do, few experience it as an actual dilemma. Too few. I’d say the fact that you are though means you’re probably far closer to where you want to be than you realize.

    /essay

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    1. Oh man it did me good to read that!I so hope you’re right!!! It totally is the worst kind of cognitive dissonance, and the fact that I spent the better part of my twenties trying to ignore it means that now I’m acknowledging it it’s just all-consuming and I’m SO. IMPATIENT. And yes it does make me feel guilty when I do something trivial but then there are very few trivial things that I do anymore because I just don’t enjoy them.

      I really like what you said about owing it to life to be able to just ‘be’ and appreciate. I really stuggle with that – the whole impatience thing means I feel like I never have time to do that and I know how important it is. And ‘intentional waiting’ is genius – ask the question or set the intention and then sit the fuck down and smell the air and wait :)

      Thanks for the wise words!

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      1. Here’s my prescription then (as if I’m in any freaking way qualified to give one)– one full day this week of Saturday morning cartoon or movie marathons, pizza, perhaps video games or shopping. If you don’t enjoy that, get over it hah!

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        1. Haha, thanks Doc! I do like movies..and pizza… Good idea to schedule some down time in, will try it! Today it will be fulfilled by music festival fun :) But I’ll plan it in, and then I won’t feel like I’m avoiding doing work because it’s scheduled relax time! Good plan :)

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  4. Ahhh, number 3… Although I am already pretty sure about my purpose in life, which is teaching, which I love with all my heart, I sometimes feel lost in what to do with my life besides my work. It’s like I have some ideas of what I want in life but nothing clear… So I keep “living”, trying to follow happiness and grow and be true to myself while I’m waiting for one of this enlightened moments where I realize what I want from life. The good thing is that while I’m following this path I feel I’m getting closer and closer to it. Maybe I’m just waiting for something that I already have? Don’t know yet! :D

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    1. Hey Maria! To seek or not to seek, seems to be The Question…how much searching is useful, and how much sitting and listening? I guess the most important thing is to stay connected to out intuition so it can guide the balance. It’s great that you know and are doing what you love, and very inspiring! I’m sure that the rest will also fall into place as you follow your happiness :)

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  5. Steph,

    Thanks for writing this post. I guess, in some sense, that is the first step. For me the first step has always been to be open about my worries and problems. Being a “historically” shy guy, it was always a problem to seek solutions. I kept searching for answers within me instead of just looking for them outside where people were solving the same problems every single day.

    #1: Writing has been a mystery to me. I mean I still do not think that I can or will write tomorrow. I have been writing almost daily for a year now and I still don’t know if I will wake up tomorrow and not feel like writing. So my approach to writing is not writing at all. I really do not ever “try to write”. I just expose myself to some ridiculous amount of words/thoughts each day – reading blogs, books, watching documentaries, speeches, meeting people, etc. My last week’s post was inspired by a stand-up comedy routine. I find that when I expose myself to a ton of information, some of that sticks and won’t let go. To let go of it, I have to write it down. And that’s exactly where the writing occurs for me. I get so obsessed with a thought or idea that I cannot see any other way but to write it down and record my own thoughts or feelings about it.

    #2: This is could be a luxury problem. It good that you have so many interests. It’s a great thing. However, always remember that just because you enjoyed it yesterday doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it tomorrow. So if there are something that you don’t find as interesting anymore, I guess, that simply means your heart is making more room for something else and you need to let go of that other thing. Just take is as it comes. I have been fascinated my Finnish cuisine lately. I read a lot about it, cook it, hate it when I eat it, and then cook some more. I am pretty sure it is not a life-long passion. Maybe in a month or two I’ll move on to something else. And when I do, that’ll be that.

    #3: Ufff, Steph! Talking about putting yourself under pressure haha. The “calling” ahh wouldn’t it be awesome if we all knew what our’s was? I really don’t know what my purpose is yet. And somehow I am very happy with that. Because being the kind of person I am, if I do realize what my true purpose in life is then I will get bored with it very soon. God forbid I am supposed to be a Finnish cuisine chef or something. So my current approach is to be like a monkey – jumping from branch to branch, tree to tree not knowing or caring what tree I am supposed to spend the rest of my life on. You might say, okay that’s all philosophical and dandy but what about practicality? Practically speaking, my current approach to “purpose-finding” is “problem-finding”. I am spending my time reading, writing, talking, discussing about so many different topics (I’ve co-authored a book on Sex-Trafficking which will be out in Sept.’12 – yup totally random topic). All in hopes that soon I will find a problem that I am really keen to solve. All purposes, I believe are solutions to existing problems – eg. Steve Jobs, Gandhi, Mandela, Bach, Newton. So, I might find a problem I want to help create a solution for. After, I might find another and I’ll move to a totally different purpose or perhaps spend my whole life creating different solutions to the same problems. Who know?

    Whoa! This is officially the longest comment I have left on a blog. It’s like a mini post in itself haha. Sorry about that. Well, hope you find some of this helpful. Have a great weekend! :)

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    1. Wow Amit! Amazed and honoured to read your thoughts on all this – I’m also not very good at asking for help and being vulnerable but it’s amazing how generous and helpful people are when you lay your crap out on the table..and like you said, we’re all dealing with the same issues so it’s silly not to pool our collective wisdom.

      So it seems that the not-trying-to-write thing really works for you! Must be quite liberating to do it like that..I think my German side gets in the way wanting to always know what the plan is..maybe I’ll try taking a more relaxed approach (and increasing frequency would probably help).

      Talk about random hobbies, how on earth did you end up getting into Finnish food?! The thing is, the interests I’m persuing at the moment are the core ones that have always been with me and that probably always will – then there are loads of other smaller ones that I don’t have time for anyway, and those are the ones that come and engulf me in a tidal wave of obsession and leave a few months later. I think my most random one was maybe Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging).. :D

      The monkey approach is really fun and free, and I did that my whole life until last year when I suddenly got this intense need to build something, to dedicate myself to something greater than myself and finally do something useful with my life. I think that my monkey days are therefore over (at least for a while) until I figure out what my main focus is and build on that. Your “problem-finding” method is genius!I’m absolutely sure you will solve loads of different problems (did I mention: AWESOME about the book?!)!

      Thank you so much for the amazing and reassuring megacomment:)

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  6. Yes! Exactly! I’m right there with you especially the part about trying and wishing I’d just get some sort of break already. I think you are onto something. We are so conditioned to think we have to push and strive to make things happen, but I’m starting to believe we were meant to desire, let go and trust what is important to us will come into our life. I’m starting to believe that it is our job to just do the things that propel us forward and give us passion and don’t overwhelm our lives with things that don’t because we think we “should.” That is our bone cause when we move forward with intent things, amazing things, just seem to happen. Hang in there and follow your bliss even when others don’t get it.

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    1. “Let go and trust” – that really resonates! Sounds so easy but feels so hard…practice makes the master though, right?! It’s so true, we are totally conditioned to stuggle for everything, but it shouldn’t actually be that hard, in fact it should be easy (some wise person said to look at trees growing; they don’t strggle to grow, they just do it slowly, every day…or something to that effect).

      Moving forward with intent sounds just right, I’m going to go with that! Thank you for commiserating and sharing your wisdom Sherri!

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  7. Hey Steph, I love this post so much and I love that you felt inspired to get naked too! The one on here that resonates with me the most is the list of things you love to do but feeling as though you don’t have the time. I too have struggled with this a lot in my life but I’m learning that there is enough time to fit them all in and it doesn’t have to be all right now. For example, I’m currently really getting into yoga and when I settle for a while in Thailand my plan is to start doing yoga every day and then I though ooh maybe I can buy a guitar and learn that too because it’s something on my list I’ve always wanted to do but then I stopped myself and thought right now I want to create a steady yoga practice and then once I’ve done that I’ll pick up a guitar. Realising I don’t need to do everything today makes me feel tons better :) I also love that your purpose can be as simple as helping people, I can definitely relate to that one. Someone also once said to me that whatever he does he checks whether or not it brings him joy and I’ve tried to live by that ever since. Sometimes we think our purpose needs to be this big, defined thing but helping people and feeling joy work for me :) Well done for being so open and honest.

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    1. Thanks Caroline :) I love the joy-check, going to install that in my decision-making process! You know just reading that, about how you’re going to do one thing at a time made me breathe out and gave me this feeling of space…crazy! Our culture just makes us feel rushed all the time, so that we end up carrying that over into things that we do for pleasure as well which is so WRONG! Thank you for setting such a great example of naked writing, you make it easier for others like me!

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