Fighting Fatigue, Part One

This is the first part of some thoughts on fighting fatigue. As someone who writes, teaches and consults with people I’ve been thinking a lot about the problems that hold all of us back from reaching our true potential.

Before I get into specifically business related topics, let’s start with things that hold us back from pursuing the big, lofty ideals.

Take “Follow your dreams.”

That’s easy enough, right?

You’ve heard it thousands of times. You’ve read it in books, heard it in everyday conversation. You’ve seen movies and listened to songs that used it as a theme.

And I’m willing to bet that a number of times in your life, you’ve really taken those words to heart. You’ve read them or heard them, and inside your head something responded and resonated that made you think for a moment, “Yes that’s right. I should follow my dreams.”

And it’s so simple, but are you doing it? Right now, can you honestly say you’re following your dreams?

Probably not, or at least not to the extent you could be. Right?

So there’s a gap. On one side, there’s this idea – this truth – that sparked brightly in your head and on the other side of the chasm is you actually acting on it.

And this is really important to understand, because it’s at the root of so many of our slow failures. It’s the gulf between what we know is true in our heads and our hearts and how we act. That gap can take many forms – from procrastination to stubborn denial to creating needless drama to actual physical manifestations like anxiety and disease –  but they all boil down to one root cause; fear.

Here’s what I think happens. We hear, read or think something that resonates with us and that we know is true. It’s in our head, and in that moment, we intend to take that idea out into the world and act on it.

But something happens as soon as this thought tries to take its first steps. Instead of being welcomed into the world, this idea is challenged… viciously. It’s insulted and assaulted beaten-down and broken.

In our head, we knew that “follow your dreams” rang true. But in the cruel world, we’re told if we follow our dreams we’ll starve or subject our family to misery. We’re told to rationally consider the odds; how many fools pursue their dreams, and how very few succeed. We’re told that our dreams aren’t attainable. We’re told, over and over, why “follow your dreams” is a dream itself.

We’re told these things, by people close to us — our friends and family, our coworkers and confidants. And with the advent of the Internet, we also get the chance to have simple truth is attacked by total strangers, all over the world, with a permanent record stored on a servers somewhere.

And so suddenly that simple idea that we had in our heads seems like a crazy impossibility. We were delusional for thinking it in the first place. And really, after weighing it out we knew was a pipe dream along.

I mean, think about it. “Follow your dreams?” How trite. It’s like something a child would think. Who does that? Who can do that? Nobody I know. No, the people I now have to put food on the table.

And soon we learn how to do crush our ideas with hardly any help at all. It’s more efficient that way, isn’t it? Why wait for someone else to kill our ideas when can just we strangle them ourselves in their infancy?

This all happens in the blink of an eye. Simple truth turned into embarrassing distant memory. At that point, you’d be foolish to act.

And so there it is. The gap, the chasm, the gulf. All those questions and all those voices delivered their death blows to your dreams.

That’s where people like me come in, in our capacity as writers, artists and teachers. We’re not trying to come up with some new truth , because ultimately there aren’t any. So we pick up the old tattered and battered ones and try to nurse some new life into them.

Yes, they are the same old truths. Old, trite, clichéd…that’s what the critical voices shout. Things like “Follow Your Dreams.” But we tell their stories again and we look for new stories that bring them to life anew. We repaint them and repackage them and hold them up to the light.

We know you know you know these old truths. Somewhere inside – you still know. And that’s why you sought us out. It’s why you’re hear right now. You want you to remember.

And when we to remind you about the simple ideas that are so important you implement, you know we’re battling right?

The enemy isn’t your parents or your friends or teacher or your envious enemies or strangers on the Internet or any of the other choir of critics that are so easy to blame.

It’s you. We can’t shut up all the critics. It’s not possible. We’re just trying to get through to YOU because you do have the power to shut them up..

Those wars going on – those voices of violence – only matter if you listen to them.

The critics are a persistent illusion, as real as you make them. They are mostly dust; echoes of things said to you in a distant past. They are the fear of what you’re afraid you’ll be told again. And every time one of those ghosts appears and points at you and screams, you can let it shame you. It’s hard to fight the feeling that the world is looking at you and judging you grimly in that moment, because the specter has exposed you and brought with it an Army.

Keep moving. Ignore the voice of fear and keep moving. That’s the message you need to hear right now and the one we all need to be reminded of, over and over again.

So those are the lofty ideals. Next post : the details that we ignore.

8 Comments

  1. Gah. This keeps coming up for me – the gap between the life I ‘could/should/am able/have the potential’ to be living and the life I’m living now.

    And I don’t think the problem is the gap.

    I think it’s that we (or I at least, or a part of me, at least at least) thinks the gap shouldn’t be there.

    That if I’m not following my dreams *in the way I think RIGHT NOW* then I’m lazy, or bad, or something.

    Someone made the comment on my blog recently about how we think that we can make ourselves do better by beating ourselves over the head with ridiculously high standards.

    It’s not even that sometimes.

    I think, probably, the gap is always there. It’s more a mechanism of the mind (the dissatisfaction that the Buddhists talk about) to be constantly uneasy where we are. And scared of sticking our neck out, doing the thing that’s right for us.

    I get scared to take a nap, sometimes, for fear that the world will judge me. Totally crazy on the face of it, and largely unconscious, but the echo-chamber of fear is huge, at times.

    And, you’re right, it’s exhausting.

    Sometimes by just being a bit softer, seeing the mechanism for what it is, there can be an ounce of space to see what’s really happening.

    I think with most of us it’s not that we need to ‘work’ ‘harder’…

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  2. A major issue for many people is the impact from group energies. Most of us have plenty of our own individual stuff to handle in our personal growth and expansion, but the real difficulty is when one makes an internal shift and moves it out into the external world. Your description of hearing the truth of following your dreams followed by the disillusionment of it being attacked or denigrated fits this pattern.

    Humanity has quite distorted and damaged group energies and this is the crux of the problem. We have all experienced the effect of those energies when we try to step forward with our own wisdom. The key here is to discover how to connect with the enlightened group grids and use them for the support that is all too often not forthcoming in our normal group interactions.

    Personally, I use Crystalline Consciousness Technique for this process as I have found it to be highly effective. There are doubtless other tools available but that is the one that is working for me.

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  3. Nice work buddy – “Ignore the voice of fear and keep moving” – and by the way I don’t see this as Lofty Idealism, this is in the trenches, feeling pain with trench foot and just surviving till home leave comes stuff!

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  4. Very good thoughts. I’m going to share this with my teen daughter. Thanks.

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  5. Thanks for helping me remember what I knew, and was forgetting. Your timing is perfect. Just got back from walking the Redondo Beach Pier, hoping some time away from the computer (and the ever-critical voice inside me) would help me remember the dream and reignite the passion for the reasons why I’m doing all this in the first place.

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  6. I think this is a great point. Id love to complement the conversation with a few thoughts

    I will start out by saying that its healthy to distinguish between dreams, passions and desires. Which ones are truly yours, in the core of your being and which ones where implanted there by steve jobs, hollywood, your background, religion, etc..you get the point.

    You have to understand that there is a culture of consumption geared to tell you what to feel, what to buy and what to think. I have problems as an adult just figuring out what thoughts are mine. Just take a look at American Idol… How many people are completely deranged and talentless, yet they go out and try out. Their hearts and dreams are crushed when the judges serve them a plate of reality, whats amazing is the astonishment in their faces, like they never even suspected. That makes me wonder about the support systems around people. Look at how the political debate is constructed in America via the media. People from BOTH sides of the political spectrum are out there regurgitating information like parrots. There is no critical thinking, or analysis of where the info comes from, its intent. There is no process that filters the information.

    Truly what I am trying to say is that its so important to be analytical and evaluate your own dreams and try to determine if they are:

    Sustainable
    Achievable
    Do you have the talent necessary ? Not skill, but the actual innate talent.
    The drive
    The proper support system and right guidance and education.
    Is it really a dream of yours ? What are you really pursuing
    Personality analysis, is this a phase ? or is this a behavior that arises continuously.

    Ok here is a moment of blasphemy for all you capitalists out there. Its OK to fail and its ok if your dreams are not larger than life millionaire rapper dreams. Whats important at the end of the day is that the PURSUIT OF YOUR WELL BEING results in the well being of you community. We shouldn’t be pursuing dreams, we should be pursuing passions that result in well being, mental and spiritual.

    As soon as you remove the economic component, some fears disappear. As soon as you remove the invisible stair of success going up up and now where, some pressures disappear. As soon as you remove the notion that you are on some sort of deadline, race or external competition, all urgency is replaced by a feeling of certainty. Certainty that time will be your ally and that no matter how long or what it takes you will fulfill your life project.

    When daring to “dream” its also important to note that no one made it alone. That there are systems in place that can enhance your pursuit. Critics, friends, opposing forces, those should be met with joy. Remember that DEMONS are always scary until you understand their job is to protect you.

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  7. I’m starting a business (July 1 !). I’ve been defining the dream since last November and I finally decided to just take action and go for it. My first drama was exactly what you’re talking about – no one makes it anyway, why bother. Now, the issue is that it feels irresponsible to make money AND like what I’m doing.

    I think the “voices of violence” and this nonsense I have going on, are societal problems. What does this say about us as a society, that we push people away from their dreams and their joy? Who are we to encourage the myths of scarcity we perpetuate? The more people who follow their dreams and act on their joy the better off we will be as a whole.

    I know, its easy to rant against society. As a society, we need the people who follow their dreams. They stand out as examples to those who still wonder what-if. I would argue that the people who quietly do what they love and still put food on the table are more inspirational than those who become household names. I can’t easily relate to the household names. I’ve been inspired by people who leave the so-called security of full time jobs to follow their passions.

    The fatigue is very real. Stretching out of your comfort zone and leaving what society tells you is the right thing can be exhausting. That’s what community is for. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to give up and hide in my day job forever. Somehow, every time I’ve wanted to give up, I’ve found a tweet, magazine article, blog post or ebook that says exactly what I needed to hear.

    Together we make the dreams real and crush the voices of fear. And just maybe inspire the small corners of our worlds to change.

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  8. Thanks, Lee. Eager to see where you’re going to go with this…

    Reply

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