Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Struggle

Hey, my good people! 

On My Heart 
I've been a long time reader of Steve Pavlina's blog.  His post, "How to Be Free of Frustration", inspired me to write this.

Hard Headed
For a long time I have had my hopes pinned on something external to change some aspect of my life: exercise equipment, new clothes, diet, books, money, a boo, a new laptop to spur my writing career.  At some point, I believed that all of these things would fix what I felt was wrong with me: my weight, appearance, not knowing enough, not having enough, or being enough.  

I thought that once I had these things and permanent changes were made, I would experience more love, more admiration, more attention, more affection, more respect, and total world domination.  I would get so excited daydreaming about how once this product or new addition solved my problem, I would have the best life ever.  I would be happy.  That was my prediction and it never worked.

Shift Change...Maybe
After so many tries and subsequent failures, I've learned that what's on the inside is what can truly change my life.  I know this now.  I know it like I know my name.  I thought of all of these ways to work on mind:   EFT, meditation, yoga, journaling, prayer, hypnosis, more books, courses, etc.   

In the back of my mind, or the front or perhaps the side, just like before, I believed that mastering one or all of those things would solve all of my problems and create this fantastic life for me.  Damn it!  I was doing it again! 

Don't get me wrong
I'm not saying that the things that I listed are bad or that they don't work.  Lots of things that I've tried have truly made a difference.  However, there is more to it than that.  I daydreamed of instant, dramatic change.  I daydreamed that something outside of me could create this perfect existence that I would conjure up.  

I know that I am not alone in this.  How many of you have said: If I would just lose 50 pounds, I'd be perfect.  If I can find a man who loves me for who I am, I would thrive.  If I just won the lottery, all of my problems would be over.  If I looked like her, my life would be set.   Let's keep it real.  We've all felt that way about something at one point.  Many of us are still doing it.  

How much money have you spent on the equipment, courses, retreats, books, clothes, or even plastic surgery in hopes of quickly achieving happiness, love, and / or freedom?  Me?  I've spent thousands and that doesn't include my time.  

I was successful, for a moment: weight came off, I looked better, I met someone, I manifested money and would find it on the streets.  The thing is, none of it gave me what I thought that I'd have: a perfect happy life.  I still felt lonely, unsure, afraid, and not enough.  Then, frustration would set in.  I didn't really acknowledge the little changes that happened.  They weren't big enough to notice.  That's when I'd give up hope and throw in the towel on yet another thing.

The Last Time
The last time this feeling came over me, I felt so anxious.  I was wound so tightly and I had no idea what to do.  It was in that moment that I chose to work on forgiveness.  I said a prayer forgiving myself for being so hard on me and for allowing negative self talk to overwhelm me.  That helped me to take a deep breath and mellow out a bit.  That's when I saw Steve's post.  It's amazing how the Universe works!

What I Got
The crux of Steve's point was that there are two players involved in our minds: observation and prediction.  Prediction includes fantasies, hopes, and the things that you think will happen for you.  It's beyond picturing yourself married to David Beckham or Denzel Washington living in a spotless mansion with the closet the size of a small house. (Yummy!!!!)  It is thinking that you will feel so great once you have those things.  

Observation is your reality: a single woman with a small house and a small closet and a fat cat.  Looks nothing like the fantasy, right?  Because of that, we believe that we can't possibly be happy until the fantasy comes true.  We, in essence, find fault with the observation.  We don't look at it as something to be grateful for.  We overlook our reality and wish it was different.  We don't truly accept it.

The frustration comes in when you hold so tightly to the vision and hold it as what should be while fighting against what is.  (Totally guilty!)  In learning more about mindfulness and being in the present moment, it's clear that observation and prediction represent being in the present versus focusing on the future.  

By focusing so much on what we want, we're not appreciating or truly experiencing what we have right now. Resisting what is creates frustration by  letting what we want drive our thoughts when it differs so much from our reality.  It creates an internal struggle that ultimately makes us more unhappy, which shows up in our lives as a self-inflicted wound.  

Breaking it down
Do you guys remember seeing this lady on Oprah?  That's Jenny.

Jenny - Barbie lady Fantasy vs. Prediction = Future vs. Present: A battle you can't win.  New tools to help you fight.

Before Jenny was 30, she had had 29 surgeries.  After the show, she had stopped for a while, then she started again.  Overall, Jenny has had 59 surgeries.  Here is Jenny before and after:

Fantasy vs. Prediction: A battle you can't win.  #BigDivaHq

Now here is a more recent photo of Jenny:

Even though Jenny was a beautiful woman, she was not happy with her reality.  She believed that through surgery, she could fix what was wrong with her.  She thought that surgery would help her achieve happiness and gain self worth.  Surgery after surgery after surgery and still, what she hoped to gain by going under the knife, continued to allude her.

Fast forward to 2013.  Jenny has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  It has totally changed how she looks.  She has gained a lot of weight and is in pain constantly.  If you asked her how she feels about the way she looked back then, I would not be surprised if she said that she would kill to look and feel how she did before she went under the knife the first time.  Her disease is forcing her to accept what is. You can view Jenny's story here and here.

For me, the internal struggled didn't just affect how I looked, but how I treated myself.  Physically, I felt it.  I starting experiencing more migraines than usual.  I had more trouble sleeping.  I stopped doing some of the things that brought me joy, like cooking.  I ate more chocolate than I typically do.  Internally, my inner voice had become more vicious than ever.  I gained more weight.  I was sad, frustrated, and exhausted.  

I was so busy focusing on the fantasies instead of being grateful for what I do have.  I constantly say that I'm immensely blessed, but by comparing my life to the life that I wanted, I was completely negating that statement.  

So, now what?
Steve's suggestion is not to stop dreaming or fantasizing.  (Thank God, because I live for Pinterest, the land where fairytales stare you right in the face!  Follow me!)  He says that instead we should surrender.  Find the joy in what is, whatever it is, and accept it.  From there, you will manifest what it is that you desire.

Let go of what might be.  It's fine to desire things.  Pin to your heart's content, but don't cling to the outcomes.  What we want for ourselves may not be what we are destined by the Universe to have or do.  What the Universe has in mind for us might be bigger than what we could have ever imagined.  By clinging to an outcome, we are blocking blessings.  

Let's say that, I am so set on buying this one house in a particular area, but it doesn't happen.  I've dreamed of living in this house forever.  I've got a picture of it on my vision board.  In my mind, I've furnished the house.  I've let the feeling of having the house wash over me and did everything else that The Secret told me to do.  However, no matter what, I can't get this house.  I am clinging so tightly to this house, that I have totally missed that a bigger, better, and cheaper house is for sale in the same neighborhood.  Also, I never occurred to me that I may be destined to have the house that I desire, but the timing is wrong.  Catch the drift?

Whenever I expect certain results from something I'm doing, frequently I end up being disappointed.  I don't know how many times I've said, "let me calm down, because it isn't going to go exactly how I want."  I've learned it the hard way too many times.  Whenever, I go into something and feel pretty open about the outcome, I've been pleasantly surprised.  

One Night in Hawaii
I was getting my plan on.  Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am a chronic planner.  I sat up planning things to do the next day with my friends.  We had agreed on somethings earlier that day, but I found additional things to add to the list.  By the time that I went to sleep, I had the order down and everything so as to maximize our time and see as much as possible.  The next day, they had decided to do something totally different. 

I agreed, but I also a little upset.  It seemed like so much of the things that we talked about were changed around.  I thought about it for a hot second and decided then and there that I was going to enjoy my time with my friends no matter what we did.  I let go of the expectation about what we should have done and as a result, I had the best time of the ENTIRE trip.  

Waving the White Flag
Let's work on waving the white flag of surrender and promote the present to its rightful place: front and center.  Prediction or our desires will always be there, but we should keep them in check and not allow them to overshadow the now.  I'll be sure to share with you some of the ways that I am working on it.

In the comments below, tell us about your experience with observation and prediction.  Do you find that you place a lot of expectations on your future?  What kinds of things do you do to acknowledge the present?  

Have you ever hung onto something so tightly, but once you let it go, you got results?  Was the result exactly what you wanted or was it better than you imagined?  We want to hear what you did to get out of the way and let go of your expectations.  

Your comments and suggestions are definitely helpful!


  1. YES! Getting out of the way truly helps us achieve that which we so desire! I'm in the process of moving myself aside and already feeling so much more at ease and open to just allowing myself to be what I say I want to be! Whew, what a story and grateful that you've shared yours with us.

    Oh and I agree that Jenny is probably wishing she was who she was before all the surgeries.....

    1. Fantastic! I'm so glad that you are working on it and are experiencing noticeable successes. What are some of the things that you are doing to "move yourself aside"?

  2. It is important to understand and appreciate the difference between vision and actuality. It will lead to increased happiness and satisfaction when we learn to appreciate what is and act based on what is rather than confusing reality with the vision of a possibility.

    1. You are exactly right! Is this something that you've experienced personally? How did you work it out?

  3. This is a powerful post. I've learned that you can't cling so much to your own desires and expectations that you miss the other blessings along the way. Leave room for the possibilities and remember that whatever you experience is ultimately for your good.

    1. Thank you. You are absolutely right. This lesson in letting go of my desires has been a bit tough for me, but I find that the more I relinquish the expectations, the better my experiences.

  4. Three years ago I had my epiphany, however I didn't make a 360 degree change. I am still making the changes. The epiphany is that I will not let a day go by without realizing all that I have, all that I was given and all that I am. Even if I did nothing that day it was still a blessing. You see, I am very hard on myself as well. I was disillusioned by my own self. When I was younger I accomplished things I said I would and somewhere after my failed marriage I just could not get anything right. I had now realized I needed that time to break myself of expectations and beliefs. One by one my expectations went unmet and my beliefs were shattered. It took me some time, but I realized that that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. My beliefs kept me limited and rigid and expectations kept my heart in a constant state of hurt.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is amazing how much we as women are alike. Being able to share our stories is in my opinion necessary and very cathartic.

    1. Wow, what a story and such a powerful lesson too. Sometimes it takes for something so big to shake us and bring about a lesson that turns into the best thing for us. I am so glad that you were open with your story. I hope that someone going through something similar to what you endured will see that there is another side and that it is possible to make it through. I hope that your story gives them hope, strengthens their courage, and reinforces their faith that they too can persevere and come out in a better place. (((hugs)))

  5. It took me almost 28 years to realize that it's better to be happy where you are, so you can attain whatever else is coming to you. I had this notion that I was meant to have certain things in life, and those would create a different mindset for me. Just like you said, that is so untrue. Once I realized that, and got out of my own way mentally, I couldn't keep up with the blessings that dropped in my lap. I became content with myself, and my situation, THEN that situation changed for the better. I love, love, love this post! Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. It's amazing how you fight with reality because it isn't what you desire, but once you accept what you have and are truly grateful, you "get out of the way" and opportunities, blessings, and your desires come to you freely. Thank you so much for your comment, Amiyrah!

  6. As I was reading this something came to mind. There is one particular thing that I think I've been holding onto for many many years, as to how its supposed to happen. I do have to constantly remind myself of the end result now how I get there. It seems to be no problem in all areas of my life except this one situation. As I sat here reading this, I decided to meditate on it, to see it in my minds eye, to focus on the end result and not the how it'll happen. I sat with my eyes closed and was so deep in thought that I didn't know for how long I had shut the noise out. Its funny how when we need silence in a crowded place, we find it. What happened next, well that's for another time!

    1. Aww... You can't just cut a good story off like that!! I need to know what happened! Ok, well write about it on your blog so that we know how it turned out. lol

      Your comment reminds me of a good quote by Jack Canfield, "Our job is not to figure out the 'how'. The 'how' will show up out of the commitment and belief in the 'what'". As long as you commit to something, the Universe will move you through how to get there. Thanks for your comment!