Sometimes we get trapped in ways of thinking, believing and being. We tell ourselves, “I can’t because of…” and we find an excuse or reason, usually born of some error or injustice from our past. Or we point to the outside world, the ugly parts and blame Them for our failing to take action towards what we want. The most honest obstacle is simply not knowing what we want. It can happen. I can see instances in my life of achieving success because I knew what I wanted, clearly in my mind and I could see a way through whatever obstacles would come. And I can see instances in my life of simply having no idea what I wanted, or that I even wanted something. And yes, instances of blaming my history or the big ugly world we live in for why I would not do a certain thing.
Changing that is simple. Getting out of the trap is simple. It’s a matter of changing your mind, saying no to the attitude, consistently, and pondering the other side of things. It’s the “consistently” part that is difficult (at first). It’s the being firm enough with yourself to expect better, and being gentle enough with yourself to slow down a moment and let your bewildered head catch up a bit. Taking the time to comfort yourself when you’re scared, catch your breath when you’re tired, and step carefully when you need to. As long as you are moving forward, it’s all good.
Once upon a time, in two key areas of my life, I had no idea what I wanted. Truth, I didn’t even know I wanted things in those areas. I thought it was just a matter of “put this peg here, any old peg, and voila.” I was wrong though because I liked purple star shapes to go in my purple star shaped holes, not green round pegs, not red hearts, not brown squares. But purple star shapes. Not knowing what you want can be a tricky thing to overcome, especially if you don’t know that you even can want something. But there is a simple way to figure it out.
When I first began that journey about 3 years ago I started simple. What brings me pleasure? What do I enjoy, deeply, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet? What fills me up with all the mojo I could ever ask for? Slowly the answers came to me – trees, rocks, looking at big wide fields at the tops of hills, long bike rides in the summer along back country roads, collecting feathers, butterflies and skulls, writing in simple journals with cheap pens that have nice flowing ink, clouds in the sky, birds singing, snuggling in, being alone, hiking, visiting new places in nature, the stars in the sky and sharing all these things with someone special.
I am now at another stage of that journey. I didn’t really understand what success in my career meant. I didn’t really understand what I wanted out of my career. I didn’t have a picture in my mind, a goal, a target, and spent a lot of time thinking from the perspective of not being *something* enough to get there. I spent a lot of time thinking about things from a position of not having instead of from a position of pleasure and enjoyment. But I get it now.
I take pleasure in figuring out what my patients need from me. I take pleasure in seeing how much better they feel after we have worked. I take pleasure in making my notes of observations for my sessions and connecting the dots. I take pleasure in communicating with my patients and even my non-patients. I take pleasure in collaborating with my colleagues and peers, discussing our cases, or our businesses. I take pleasure in listening to them talk about the direction they are going and their ideas on how to get there. I take pleasure in sharing with them my direction and ideas. I take pleasure in helping them see more clearly and their helping me. I love to brain storm with people! I love to see their successes and I love to share mine. I do enjoy that pat of congratulations on backs and shoulders when someone – you or I – has accomplished what was intended.
And now that I know what brings me pleasure… The next step is to set out what I want. And it’s simple. I want the above paragraph. I want that. I want to walk in to work every day and greet the people I work with and know that I trust them as much as they trust me, that we are part of a team all pulling in the same direction, that we are building together towards something great. I want to feel mutually supported, that we are holding each other up so no one has to sleep in the mud. I want to feel equal to my team mates, complimentary, that my unique gifts and talents are integral to the whole thing. That if any one of us was not there, then something vital would be missing. I want to be a part of a buzzing network that suits my more introverted style – personal and small introductions to important people so-and-so says I need to meet, or whom have been told they need to meet me. And I want all the patients I see to be people who have been called to my table, one way or another. They are there specifically because I offer what they need; because we can and will help each other grow towards being our best selves ever.
And yes, it is all very simple. But let me be clear, simple is not the same as easy. I suspect that quite often, some of our most difficult tasks are the simplest ones set before us. They are difficult only because we must change how we are being. We must change our perspectives, our attitudes, our expectations. And we must be clear in what we want, where we are going, and open to however the road will take us there. We must learn to be flexible enough to flow, but strong enough to stay on target. And we will have to learn how to deal with feeling defeated. Defeated is not the same as beaten. Many lost battles pave the way to won wars. Success is usually just a few beats on the other side of defeat and if we can open ourselves up to some great stroke of insight, we can usually find those next steps to get past that hard part.
Simple. Not easy.
Turning our minds away from the negativity takes work. It takes some serious sticking power. And let me be really clear here, knowing how to see the negative, the pitfalls, the dangers is super crazy important. One needs to know how to smell trouble before it arrives on your door, so you can either avoid it or, if it is inevitable, how to be ready for it or, if it is one of those nasty surprises, how you might be able to roll with it somehow. Seeing the problems is important. But drowning in them is pointless. One also needs to be able to see the successes, the beauty, the ease. One also needs to be open to, and have faith in, the way through showing up when you need it. If all you can see is the pit fall you will never see the opportunities. And they really are everywhere. People who say all they get is bad luck are people who are blind to the help that is everywhere. Seeing the positive, having a dash of optimism, is just as important as the other side. One must learn how to balance the two. It’s just about being aware of as much as you can be. Being aware of who and what is in your environment and taking steps to influence the things you want to come to fruition.
Pleasure is the perfect place to start. Discovering what truly fills you up makes such an incredible difference. It gives you a guide post, a marker to look to when you are unsure if something is good for you. Does it make you feel full of beauty? Does it make you smile helplessly? Does it bring tears of gratitude to your eyes? And does it always make you feel this way, from beginning to end and even in memory? A yes to these questions is a good indication that this brings you pleasure, and is something you want. You can play here, in the space of discovering what pleases you, for your whole life. In fact, you should. Pleasure never gets old or tired, and as you grow, develop and change, you will find pleasure in new things that did not exist for you before. Pleasure asks only one thing in return, that you be brave enough to be vulnerable. That you provide for yourself enough courage to open up to the world, just a little bit, to sample what it has to offer. Not all at once, either. Just a little crack to let in a little goodness, a little sunshine. The sweetness is here waiting for you to reach out for it. After that, it’s a hop skip and jump to meeting your goals and tasting success.