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Looking Outside Ourselves

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Lately, I have been thinking about how many of my clients are attached to and perpetually in search of something outside of themselves … myself included. Whether it is rewards, recognition, money, travel, food, exercise, etc, I’m reminded of what Wayne Dyer says: “There is nothing you want that is external to you.” (I may be paraphrasing but you get the gist.)

We often think that if the circumstances in our lives change, we will feel happier, more at peace, joyful, ever content. What we don’t realize is that the chase is what actually keeps us imprisoned and interferes with enjoying our lives, as is. Eckhart Tolle says that when we use the present as a means to an end, as an obstacle to overcome, we are, in fact, at war with the present moment. It’s actually not the desire for those external things that impedes your life but your attachment to it.

Here’s a great example.

I love to write. For the longest time, my only goal was to get my articles published. Like a drug addict who needs his meth and would go to any length to obtain more, I became a recognition addict and sent my articles to any and every publication I laid my eyes on. Real Simple, Ladies Home Journal, and Gardening Today. “Why exclude gardeners from reaping the benefits of my self help articles,” I thought. Okay, maybe this wasn’t a good use of my time but it’s proof that I became so overzealous in my attempt to get published that I managed to squeeze all the zest out of my passion … writing.

Soon I noticed that my writing whittled down to a mere grocery shopping list, void of complete sentences. The only words I began writing were ones like “soap” and “screws.” I wondered why I was walking around nauseous all day. When I forced myself to write (usually after a half of a pot of coffee and a good beating from my inner dictator), I felt it had to be perfect or it might not get published. If I didn’t live up to my standards of perfection (which was ALWAYS), I went back to writing those dirty little words again… cleaner or mouth wash. I may continue the process the next day because I’m secretly a masochist, but it usually resulted in my inner dictator berating me for not being creative, funny or talented enough to get published. 

My once passion for writing soon became an agenda for perfection in an attempt to receive validation from some editor I never even met. All I dreamed about was someone saying, “Yes, we will publish your article.” Quick translation: “You are so brilliant and fabulous.” I used my writing to affirm the belief that I need recognition from outside of myself to feel important worthwhile and valuable. I used my talent as a means to an end and murdered the very thing that brought me joy: my love of writing.

I’m happy to report that I’m back to writing in complete sentences. Do I still have the desire to get published? Absolutely. Am I attached to getting published? Absolutely not. I am rejoicing in the way things are, there is nothing lacking and the world does belong to me!


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