“When people say, ‘You really, really must’ do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”
~ Tina Fey, Bossypants
Today’s post is on a topic I’m quite passionate about, one which has been nagging at me for quite some time.
You see, I write a blog. (Duh.) This is a place where I try to be helpful and exchange the valuable time and attention it takes for you to read my words, with something you can use. Something that will nourish you, and perhaps convey a little tasty morsel of this ever-elusive ease I’m always carrying on about.
But more and more, I’ve been feeling something bothersome from the things I’m reading. Headlines like 10 things productive people do every morning. How to cure your digestive issues with these five foods. The 7 foods you should NEVER eat. Five things you think are healthy, but they’re KILLING YOU SLOWLY.
All of those are annoying click-bait headlines, yes. I am a marketer, I get the value behind a well-written, enticing headline to appeal to readers who are overwhelmed with information already. But my actual complaint the unspoken—and quite likely, unintentional—culture that is being created by all of these helpful, well meaning, advice-oriented posts floating around the interwebs.
It’s a realization that has slowly dawned on me about myself…and I’d bet a box of adorable, fluffy kittens that you’ve been seeing the world this way, too.
Underneath the hours you’ve spent reading articles online, you’re searching for the golden key. The panacea. The business model/checklist/organizing tip that will change everything. The snippet of wisdom that will answer all your questions, end all your searching, resolve all your fears and uncertainty.
Maybe this morning ritual will transform me into the person I’ve always wanted to be. Maybe this book, maybe this course. Maybe if I meditate every day, and eat clean, and get eight hours of sleep every night, followed by a glass of lemon water and expensive vitamins.
But none of these things are the answer; there’s no magic combination that will “fix” you. You are stretching yourself to perform the entire circus perfectly (and feeling like you’re failing spectacularly!) to fit in all the things, because you think that’s what you have to do to be “better”. To be “well”. To be “more productive” or a “good wife” or “good mother” or “successful entrepreneur”, or whatever it is you’re trying to be. You’ve been striving toward all these nuggets of wisdom, trying to fit in all the things, when you’ve had it flipped all along.
You don’t have to stretch and form yourself into all of these structures to attain perfection.
They have to bend and mold and stretch to suit you.
Right now, is there something you think you should be doing? Maybe you should be meal planning, or making an organized list of tomorrow’s priorities, or some other thing you CLEARLY should be doing because All The Advice says that’s what people do.
But the thing you keep forgetting is you get to choose whose advice you listen to, whose solutions you will try. And then, you can try them on like dresses. Imagine yourself in a luxurious dressing room, dictating your choices with authority:
I could never dance in this.
Maybe if I hemmed that…
Oh this one’s interesting.
And look how sexy I am in it!
You can look at advice on the rack and decide to not read any of the articles, because what you actually want today is a latte (sans guilt!), and fuck all that advice, anyway. You don’t even have to PAY ATTENTION to the stuff that doesn’t make you feel good, let alone make it a part of your life.
This is a process I have traveled through, and in some ways, am still learning. I, too, have sat in the seat of being overwhelmed by all the resources at my disposal, wondering how on earth I can still be such a basket case (not to mention how my house is STILL not clean) with the gazillions of articles telling me how simple it is to fix all my woes, in 10 easy steps. It’s so simple, only idiots can’t figure this stuff out. I’m such an idiot!
Which brings me around to my initial point: I realize that many of the things I write could fall into that category of “Got a problem? Here’s something helpful! It’s so simple, anyone can do it! I sort of can’t believe you don’t know this already, MY ADVICE IS THAT GREAT!”
But I know I am well-meaning too…which made me realize, the difference between good advice and condescending advice is often not the advice itself, but how it is being processed.
The beautiful thing is, how you choose to process the information and advice that comes your way is almost entirely in your power. I repeat: the ability to not feel like insufficient/irresponsible/overwhelmed/behind all the time is ALREADY IN YOUR POWER.
So here’s alternative:
What if you removed all traces of guilt, obligation, and doubt surrounding everybody else’s tips, advice, 4-step formulas and step by step instructions?
Liberate yourself from the feeling that if you don’t do this thing, you’ll lose out or be less. You won’t.
You are the sovereign here.
No practice, ritual or advice is powerful enough or perfect enough to overcome how powerful and perfect you already are.
It is not easy, per say, to memorize this fact until you feel it in your bones. But with practice, it becomes easier. You grow into your power.
In fact, you might think you can’t get there; you’re not capable. That’s okay. Just pretend. Pretend: what would it feel like to be free from that? Then act like it’s true, just for a minute. This is the practice. Over and over. Slowly, you will learn the strength of your own wisdom, desire and inclinations. Slowly, this new strength will burn away the guilt and obligation and doubts that don’t belong. It doesn’t happen overnight; this is the practice. This is the journey.
It is a continual process of burning away what you don’t love, what’s not serving you, with the fire of what makes you come alive. (Oh, hello blu*.)
Truly, it’s that simple, and you are capable, and you just have to go through the motions. You already are.
If you are interested in this whole “sovereignty” thing and would like a coach to help you strengthen your power muscles and learn how to make progress—in life, at home or at work—while feeling like you are already enough, check out my private coaching services! I promise to not be your guru, but instead to be a partner to help uncover what you already know about what you want and how you’re going to get there.
* Have I drilled it in enough yet that blu means beautiful, loved and useful?