Don’t Psych Yourself Up!

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.

Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan

Conventional wisdom tells us that when we don’t feel inspired, we are supposed to psych ourselves up. Talk ourselves into it.

Basically, it’s not OK to feel scared, daunted, vacant, uninspired. Feeling down is something to be ashamed of.

Let’s be real — feelings fluctuate. Days bring ups and downs. Unless you’re real with how you actually feel, unless you are willing to acknowledge that your emotions may be clouding your perception, you will continue to be affected by them, and they may even end up running the show despite your best efforts to deny them their existence.

It doesn’t mean defeat to simply be in a momentary bind. Even if it’s a monumental bind. A huge slump.

If it’s there, it’s there.

It can pass if you let it. Maybe it has something to show you.

A slump won’t go away simply because you try to tell yourself that it isn’t there.

So here is yet an other opportunity to abandon contemporary wisdom.

Conventional wisdom convinces us to follow a blind path with no heart where the appearance is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if you’re dying inside. As long as you show up and give your performance, no one will complain.

To that end, people talk themselves into feeling however they believe they are supposed to feel.

We box ourselves into constraints. If I am to be successful I am supposed to appear a certain way.

Not to say that any of this is necessarily wrong or bad… it’s just not effective if what you’re seeking is depth.

I don’t know about you, but I only have so much time and energy and I would like to do other things with it besides try to manage my appearance and control my emotions.

I want to live an actual life.

I want to achieve my goals, and I want to be awake to the process each step of the way.

That means being real with the rather enchanting truth that the path is not always what it seems.

When I write, I generally have an intended outcome in mind. However, instead of rigidly pursuing a predetermined end result, I am open to shifts and turns along the way. Those shifts and turns are where all the fun lives.

The conventional wisdom about writing doesn’t want us to trust the process. It wants us to expect perfection to emerge like some kind of a clean straight line.

Stop bullshitting yourself

The times in my life when I have rigidly pursued something and denied the various changes that emerged along the way, I was bullshitting myself.

It’s totally possible to achieve your goals… but you won’t actually be there in the experience.

A great big achievement can just be something else happening in a world with lots of ofther stuff happening.

Even you won’t care that you won.

Maybe other people will. But nothing matters to the person who is alienated to their own experience.

Describing it that way makes it sound like it’s negativity that ruined the show. But actually false positivity can get in the way just as much.

You can picture the kind of person I’m describing here: deluded in a cloud of “motivation” and positive psychology.

As if everything is always on the upswing. They’re just about ready to make it.

They can spout positive phrases on demand — as if fearful that someone will catch them complaining.

But in reality, they’re down in the dumps. You can feel it.

They can feel it too. They’re just too busy trying to talk themselves into feeling better.

Even the worlds biggest motivational speaker says this. You can’t talk yourself into feeling something. You’re basically just tyrannizing yourself with one part or another.

The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.

Tony Robbins

We seem to be built to bullshit ourselves. Society is not natively disposed to encourage people into their unique depths. In fact, the dominant preference is for business to be business and for no one individual to challenge the stagnant bubble of daily routine. People get spooked by spontaneity and are threatened by originality. Look at what we do to artists and visionaries. Even saints. Sometimes especially saints.

OK, so there is a lot of darkness in the world. But you have your unique light to shine.
Just be with your own light and let it be. If it shines, it shines.

The important thing is not to overcomplicate it. What does the still, small voice say in this matter for you?

Maybe you need to change everything about your life right away. Maybe the way to move towards greater integrity is merely to make small but decisive shifts. Clearing clutter, for example, or getting clear about something that you feel unmistakably inspired to manifest.

In my life I have often been mistaken that vulnerability signals a kind of weakness, as if vulnerability is something to be pitied. It is not. Vulnerability is an immense strength. A force that shines from yourself. When someone is really willing to be vulnerable, they’re able to actually be seen for what they are.

Only when we are vulnerable is there really much of a chance for integrity and authenticity.

Vulnerability allows a person to receive help.

In a writer, vulnerability, like humility, allows them to receive inspiration.

They get out of the way.

They become a willing vessel.

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