Signs that the real You is buried and needs excavating:
▢ lack of joy in the daily processes of life, or any processes, or even achievements. (Relief is maybe the emotion you feel when “something good” happens, but you’ve kind of lost touch with joy as a real sensation in your life.)
▢ no ideas
▢ no inspiration
▢ lack of motivation and energy
▢ lots of starting without finishing
▢ self-doubt (SO much self-doubt)
▢ focus on obstacles rather than possibilities
▢ apathy, lethargy, general desire to hibernate until… well, maybe forever
▢ trouble remembering what you love/what you’re about; confusion
▢ defensiveness; feeling attacked/threatened
▢ restlessness/tension but no clear direction on where to focus your energy
How many of those did you check off, mentally? Super-scientific survey methodology says if you checked off more than 50% (that’s 5.5), you need to get a shovel and start getting the real You some air, some sunshine, some room to breathe.
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as grabbing a shovel and digging.
When we’re buried by all this junk, we can feel all those weighty feelings. We can know that something’s off. We can struggle to locate our inspiration, joy, work ethic, desire… But we don’t always know why. And while we’re pondering What’s the problem here?, the ego is happy to come up with many ideas, many solutions.
- You need a better job.
- You need a better relationship.
- You need a better body.
- You need a better car.
- You need a better house.
- You need to a better personality.
- You need a better life.
- You need a better diet.
- You need a better friend.
- You need a better social circle.
- You need better habits.
- You need better projects.
- You need better tools.
- You need a vacation.
- You need some sleep.
The ego operates on If/Then/And Then premises. Like If/Then but with an extra Then. It’s that extra “And Then” that is the real dangling carrot.
- If you get a better job, then you will make more money and work will be more fulfilling, and THEN you will be happier.
- If you get a better relationship, then you will have someone who appreciates you, and THEN you will not be lonely and sad.
- If you get a better body, then you will be skinnier and sexier, and THEN you will feel confident about who you are.
You already know where this is going.
Those If/Then/And Then premises are faulty.
The IF may or may not lead to the first THEN. A better job, for example, may very well come with a higher paycheck. The And THEN is very much a crapshoot.
In fact, it’s worse than a crapshoot, because it’s not just risky; it’s unlikely. Those And THEN promises are all related to the problem of the real You being buried under a mind-numbing, spirit-killing, smelly pile of ego-junk.
Changing the situations or circumstances that are occurring outside of you will not change what is going on inside of you.
Jumping into yet another fear-ego loop will not clean out the junk, reduce the ego, and give the real You the chance to expand. And that’s what you really need: room. Space, Air, Light, Expansion, Growth.
To get that expansion, you have to actively avoid/diminish the fear-ego loops and consciously create/engage in the joy-value loops.
Step 1: start paying attention to the inputs in your life.
What adds to the junk pile, and what feeds the real You?
What expands the real You? Get more of that in your life.
What causes the real You to contract? Begin to actively, deliberately, and forcefully allow less of that in your life.
This is not about balance, by the way. Not at all. Balance is a helpfully vague concept that the ego can use endlessly, so don’t worry at all about balance.
Reducing the inputs that add to the junk pile will weaken the fear-ego loops. So that’s step 1, because that’s something you can do before you even see those fear-ego loops in their entirety.
Step 2: start paying attention to the processes in your life.
Which processes do you enjoy for the sake of the process itself?
Which processes do you endure for the sake of the outcome?
The ego is concerned with outcomes. Only outcomes. Always outcomes. It is motivated by fear. It will rope you into any sort of process, no matter how mind-numbing, to reach a desired outcome.
The real You is not so quick to enslave itself. The real You operates from desire, not fear. Its mode of operation is joy. The natural output of joy-fueled desire is value. That’s why the alternate to/opposite of the fear-ego loop is the joy-value loop.
Reduce the processes that exist only for the sake of an outcome.
Put more time and energy into the processes that are joy-fueled and joy-filled.
Beware the temptation to weigh outcomes: this outcome is noble, this outcome is selfish, this outcome is good, this outcome is bad.
It’s difficult to think clearly about outcomes.
It’s difficult to assess them objectively.
The ego is clever about creating stories to go with each outcome and will get you all confused. An outcome may sound noble and good, and the ego might tell you a story about how you are helping people by achieving said outcome. But the real reason might be something much simpler: a desire for recognition, a Messiah complex, a need to be the hero.
Those reasons are not bad, and having them doesn’t make you bad. But do you really want to spend your life engaged in processes you don’t enjoy in order to fulfill your ego’s need for adulation?
Better to spend your life engaged in processes borne from desire, fueled by joy, and resulting in value.
Yes. That sounds better, doesn’t it? That’s the real You. That’s the life that the real You wants to and can create.
Living life as the real You is not about a particular passion any more than being an artist is about a particular color, or being a writer is about a particular word.
The real You is limitless, always ready to expand.
You don’t have to define yourself so narrowly. You aren’t narrow.
You don’t need to find yourself.
You’re already there.