My need to achieve

Constantly striving, never arriving ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Okay, I’m back.  So, I took a little break from my blog – it turns out when you add more stuff to an already bustling schedule there is less time to do other stuff . . .like my blog.  But I learned something extremely valuable about myself while I was busily engaged in whatever it was I was busily engaged in (currently I have been on a coaching tear and I’m loving every minute of it!): I learned that I totally worship “busy.”  Specifically, I’m an achievement addict (yes, that compulsive part of me is an insidious and persistent little bugger).  I discovered that when I’m not in the process of achieving something, I’m looking to be in the process of achieving something.  The key concept here is in the process.  Once I achieve something, I get bored and want to move on to achieving something else.  I rarely – if ever- bask in my achievements and if one of my coaching clients skipped this part, I would ask “why aren’t you basking?” Here’s just one example (and this need to achieve thing is not limited to my physical accomplishments; it creeps into my parenting, career and friendship arenas as well – it’s quite versatile!): between gaining my pole fitness level back to a place where I could perform advanced pole tricks again (after I took the entire winter off) and contemplating how often and for how long I would need to train to be an elite aerial artist (and I’m only half  kidding here, people!), I decided to ask myself “why can’t I just bask in the glow of my re-achieved Death Lay?” The answer to that question was “I must constantly be achieving to be happy” and underneath that little stressful thought was the even more stressful “my achievements protect me from criticism when I choose to be myself”. This is basically comes down to me thinking I am fundamentally lacking as an individual and that my accomplishments make up for that lack. Yuck.  I just had to take that one to Inquiry and here’s the result:

 

(Some extremely technical notes you may feel free to skip: when I refer to my social self I am referring to the left hemisphere of my brain – which houses the primitive amygdala – this is where fear lives.  When I refer to my essential self I am referring to the right hemisphere of my brain – which involves the neocortex, but I had difficulty locating documentation, so here’s a video of a neuroscientist explaining brain topography in lay terms as she also explains her life-altering stroke which caused her to experience Pure Consciousness, it is FABULOUS – this part of my brain is where I am made aware of my spirit/divine nature/Being/soul and how I know I am whole and perfect underneath my physical existence and circumstances.)

 

My achievements protect me from criticism when I choose to be myself.

 

Is this true? Yes      Can I absolutely know this to be true?  No

 

When I think this thought, I am: wired, anxious, caught up in doing, my chest feels tight, I’m focused on other people (not my business).  I treat myself as if my needs/wants are second to how people may perceive me.

 

Without this thought, I am: freer, lighter, open, unfettered. If I lived my life not thinking this thought, “my people” would find me and recognize me – I would do exactly what I want without the added wastage of time and energy from worrying about stuff I can’t control.  I would take better care of myself and I would do more stuff I truly enjoy.

 

My thoughts protect my achievements from criticism when I choose to be myself. (This turnaround felt more true than my original stressful thought.)

       my thoughts tell me I must achieve in order to be happy – I don’t have to do anything to be myself

       I can choose to be myself independent of fear of criticism, yet my mind tells me my achievement is necessary to live critcism-free (such bullshit!)

       I can’t know when I’m being criticized or praised anyway b/c those judgments live in the minds of others (and is totally none of my business)

       If I followed my essential self and just went off and did what I genuinely felt like, my social self would tell me I needed to achieve in order to be allowed to do it (the price I must pay for “freedom”)

       It’s not Me that needs to be defended, my essential self doesn’t care about that, but my social self (ego) is super concerned with appearances and images and feels compe
lled to add more (achievement) in order to feel worthy.

       Ultimately, I get to decide whether I choose to believe the critical opinion of others, and my achievements, or lack of, has little to do with that (my thinking tells me b/c I achieve, I’m allowed some credit to do as I please, until the next time I need to rack up more achievement “credit” for the next time I choose to be in alignment with my essential self.).

 

Does this mean I stop achieving? Hell no!  It just means that I can now achieve whatever I truly, authentically want free from the shackles of thinking that it has to do with anything other than serving the best in me, so I can, in turn, be of genuine service to others.  I’m still working on it, but I now feel I am in a better place to relax into savoring and honoring my achievements for the gems that they are rather than using them as defense shields against unfounded and irrelevant social fears.  That feels mighty liberating.

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