For years I have been a fan of all things self-improvement, self-help, inspiration, and empowerment. I have read or listened to countless books and programs by both well-known and lesser-known figures.
Topics have ranged from general self-help to mindfulness to inspiration to wealth consciousness and on and on. Many different formats and approaches, lots of ideas and advice to make my life awesome and amazing.
I have even taken much of what I have learned and distilled it to you in a manner that, I believe, is poignant but approachable. I’ve been working to share my process from all the material I have gone over, studied, and worked to absorb in the hopes that I can inspire you as others have inspired me.
For all the advice that I offer and ideas that I share, how much of what I have received have I made use of? What reasons are there for not making use of it?
That’s what I am going to share now.
Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance. Jen Sincero calls it The Big Snooze (or BS for short). The name only matters for the purpose of identifying the opposition.
What is the opposition? It is that nagging voice in your head that tells you it can’t be done, that you’re foolish for making the attempt, and that everybody will laugh at you. Go back to doing what you have always done and stop attempting to be more. You are unworthy and undeserving so just accept that and hold onto what you have.
When you start making any effort to actively, consciously change yourself the opposition is your shadow. It tends to be super-passive, lurking in dark corners — until it goes on the attack.
Then you are inundated by the squirrels in your brain, or brain weasels, or some other doubtful and sometimes even hateful thoughts and feelings that hold you back and keep you where you are.
Why? Because change is scary. Becoming something and someone you are not is stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. Even if your comfort zone is not actually comfortable, it’s familiar. You know the familiar. What’s outside of it, however, is a mystery.
The war is ongoing and made of many battles. Sometimes every step out of the familiar requires confrontation with the opposition. Mustering your inner reserves and resolve multiple times can get wearisome.
There is also opposition from “reality.” Bills to pay, kids to drive from point ‘a’ to point ‘b,’ work and social obligations, as well as other necessary interactions. Where do you find the time to do that thing you seek for yourself without being utterly selfish?
The opposition is fierce.
Learning is one thing, applying it is another
To pursue certain dreams and goals you need to take extreme steps along the way. Not at first, though. In the beginning, you just need to work with your mindset and practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is not complicated — but neither is it a cure-all. It is the practice of being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the now. That makes you conscious of your mindset rather than working subconsciously, which daily routine tends to cause.
This is the first step towards making any change of any sort. But it is not a one-time-only practice. It needs to be ongoing. That requires you to pause or stop and ask questions to become conscious of your mindset.
· What am I doing?
· How am I feeling?
· What am I thinking?
· What am I feeling?
As well as other, similar questions to elicit consciousness.
Mindfulness includes intentional action. When it comes to thought and feeling and altering it, that’s relatively easy. But when it turns into something extreme and outside of the familiar — or your comfort zone — it becomes much more difficult.
Any major change will have consequences. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It can’t be avoided because every choice made or not will impact you.
This is where things often present as sacrifice. You must give up this, that, or the other thing in order to get to that “there” you desire to reach. It looks very much like you will need to give up something that you may be loath to leave behind.
I know full-well that this is where I tend to get stuck.
What’s on the other side of this?
It feels like I will need to sacrifice something I like or even love.
This is not sacrificing in the sense of loss, penance or forfeit because there is not enough for everyone. This is sacrifice in the sense of ceding, surrender, and leaving the familiar to gain new abundance.
More than once I have not chosen something because I was unwilling to make that sacrifice. For example, I didn’t seek a job in radio after college anywhere I could land such a job because I was unwilling to sacrifice my social life. I would not leave the comfort of the familiar for potential awesomeness.
This is ironic, of course. Why? Because I did leave my comfort zone — just not that far. When I moved to northern New Jersey I know almost nobody there. I had my social organization, but I was now 4 hours from most of my comfort zone. Would it have been so terrible had that been 20 hours?
I do not share this with regret because I don’t regret the choices I made. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes rue and lament them, but that’s a whole other animal. The point is I allowed my impression of the familiar to hold me back.
Making partial use of the advice and ideas you get, as I have often done, won’t completely satisfy you. But the thing is, nothing ever completely will, either.
Confronting the discomfort
Change is constant and inevitable. Human beings grow, evolve, and change in numerous ways. It tends to manifest in people as an urge to do something. An itch that needs to be scratched inside your mind. It’s a need to make a change.
The comfortable and familiar of today will change. The people for whom I held myself back after college are not such close friends as they were then.
I have gotten so many different tools, ideas, and pieces of advice that I have half-used, but not fully employed. Much of this is because I have been unwilling to step out of my comfort zone fully, nor to sacrifice the familiar of the now for the possibly better of tomorrow.
The greatest opposition to change is me. For all the advice that I offer and ideas that I share, how much of what I have received have I made use of?
That answer isn’t as important as continuing to make use of it. Just because I’ve not made use of it thus far doesn’t mean I can’t make use of it now. The choice belongs to me. But I am the only one who can leave my comfort zone to go where I desire to go.
What reasons are there for not making use of it? This boils down to reasons versus excuses. The excuses are so many that I won’t get into them all here. The reason is pretty simple. Fear. What if, in leaving the familiar behind I gain less than I lose?
I can’t go back and undo it…but I can choose anew. If one way does not work for me there are new ways to choose.
It’s great to learn new ideas and get advice from various sources. What’s next is up to you.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, whatever we do.