I had a conversation recently with a gentleman who said, in essence, “there’s no GUARANTEE that your methods will work.”
No, there isn’t. There are obvious comments to be made about death and taxes and the certainty of failure if you don’t try. But all of those avoid the truth that we all hit places where it feels too dangerous to risk any more. We’ve trusted too often. We’ve been hurt too badly. It feels like there is too little of us left.
We’ve all been there. And some of us find ourselves living there for week after month after year. It’s horrid, and the last thing I would do is mock that state, or suggest that you “just need to try harder” or that you’ve had a failure of character.
No. There are limits, and everyone reaches them. In the Hero’s Journey this point is called the “Dark Night of the Soul”. The way through it is the Leap of Faith. With faith, you can pick yourself up and try again. Risking failure, of course, no doubt about it. But here are ten thoughts about this point.
- We go in cycles. Up and down. No matter how far up you go, you’ll come back down. No matter how far down, there are “better” days. These are the times to take action.
- TRY SOMETHING NEW. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
- MODEL SOMEONE SUCCESSFUL. One of the most important reasons to read non-fiction is to study the lives of those who have gone before us. Our circumstances are never unique, and if you keep an open mind, you will find people in more dire situations who managed to find a way to the light. Look to see their actions, their emotions, and their mental strategies.
- GOAL X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS. If you have a “zero” in any category, you are screwed. Fight like hell to find SOME goal, SOME reason to believe you “can”, take SOME action every day, and feel SOME gratitude for being alive. Even a “one” in a category keeps you from zeroing out. I can’t give you that toe-up on your life, but if you search your memories, you can find something. Something.
- Perform a “Morning Ritual” of movement, emotion, and focus. I use Tai Chi. Walking works great. But I’ve taught this to people in wheelchairs, and they can do it with breathing, focused, deliberate breathing for 10-20 minutes, eyes rolled up to access “alpha”, smiling to trigger an endorphin response, holding their bodies as positively as they can. It is not “faking”. It is taking control of your life and refusing to let circumstances rule you.
- Your circumstances can control your body. But you have control of your spirit. Nailed to a cross, trapped in a cell, confined to your deathbed, or in the midst of the greatest disasters imaginable, human beings have found serenity, peace, centeredness. You don’t have to accept my methods, or those of my teachers. But read, study, find your own. And use them every day.
- No matter what you do, sometimes you’ll be down. No one wins all the time. This is one of the values of the Hero’s Journey–it suggests that there is NO way to achieve anything meaningful, or indeed to live life at all, without failure. Therefore, we must learn to define failure in a way that does not disempower us. For instance, Ty Cobb had the all-time batting average in baseball (.366) If I’m not mistaken, this means he struck out ⅔ of the time. And he was the BEST. “Well, why should I practice swinging the bat? That’s no guarantee of hitting the ball…” No, it isn’t. But…
- There are two different basic positions (and again, we’ve all been there. I know I have. No finger pointing here) a) people looking for a way to win. B) People looking for an excuse for failure, or not trying. I used to think that people who constantly point out how a plan might fail were automatically in the second category. But now I know that they can just be mis-matchers looking to get as close to foolproof as possible. So long as they are taking action, this is a valuable thing.
- Others who question and criticize are praying that you’re the one with the answer. “Help me believe”. “Are you strong enough to bear up under the toughest criticism I can muster? If so, you may be the teacher I’ve sought all my life.”
- My belief: everyone can do better, but you can’t help everyone. They have to help themselves, and take the first step. If they cannot find some place inside themselves, some leverage, something that forces them to GET UP, you can waste your life. The better plan: help yourself. Live your life with power and clarity. And make a clear statement to the world of the paths you’ve found, the resources you’ve used, the teachers you have followed. Your tribe will find you. As for the others…pray they will find their own way to joy.
I never turn anyone away. Attack me all you wish. I have no right to teach awareness and freedom from fear unless I’m willing to take the heat. No, my path isn’t for everyone. But if it is for you…I’m right here, pointing toward a Way of being as old as the first pulse of the universe.
Ready when you are.