Most of the people whom I work with are driven by something greater than themselves. They feel a call deep inside to make a difference in the world. I am like this myself.
One thing that I have noticed in myself is that there are two parts to this drive that benefit from being seen as distinct: my personal/egoic need to be something as a result of life influences (often because of damage) and my deeper soul’s calling to my true mission. Very often when I go to create something in the world, it is inspired by my deeper Self but driven by my injury. This very often leads to experiences that I see often in other people’s lives as well: varying results, frustration, being overwhelmed, and even burnout.
As a result of these experiences, it is easy to ask the question, “Am I even on the right track?” And then, “What is Truth, and what is fantasy?” For some people, this is followed by, “Should I give up my dreams and do something ‘reasonable’?”—“reasonable” meaning whatever we have been told is the correct way to live our life. I have come to see this process—for those of us who are unlocking our true gifts and rising to our calling—as refinement. I have come to see this process as that of an old soul who knows better than to set up their life in a way that can get too far off track and who instead orchestrates things to play out so that the ego is thinned and the deeper self can truly shine through.
And so I have learned to be grateful for the frustrations that show me exactly where I am aligned with the lesser aspects of myself. I choose more and more to see this and make the necessary shifts, rather than seeing the obstacles as a sign of my lack or inability and then judging the worthiness or potentiality of my mission. The answer for me is in letting go of the idea that my mission is an outcome and seeing it instead as a process—a beautifully unfolding evolution of a way of being that I cannot fully understand and of which I will never entirely know the impact.
There is a bit of a mystery as we unfold on our life’s path. What seems clear in one moment seems obscure in the next. What works at one time no longer seems to apply as we move forward. We might wonder, why this information that way? Why is it rolling out over this stretch of time? Why is it happening this way? The mind desires to be able to know the reasons behind the unfolding. And you can ponder the whys of it all forever—or you can just let it inform you. What new information is this providing for you? How is this helping you see or understand yourself?
And instead of trying to understand our life from a more masculine, solution-focused orientation (“Here’s my problem, it needs to be fixed”), we might try viewing a challenging dynamic, situation or event as instructing us about how to unfold more completely. How is it informing me? What can I learn from it? Recognize that we can’t rush our unfolding. Wish as we might, that’s not what this path is like. It is not about demanding that certain skills unfold when we want them to because there’s a job to be done. It’s a much more comprehensive path and calling that usually spans not just a lifetime or an eight-month program but multiple lifetimes of developing skills—and also developing bad habits.
So sometimes when you are up against the things that are most challenging for you, you are not just up against your childhood conditioning. You can be locked a habitual pattern because you were or are living in an environment, a culture, a time where this is the only way to act. Or your current challenge may be necessary to your development at this time. Sometimes we lose a faculty because we need it to be offline to accommodate another, growing one. What we see as our greatest challenge might not be a problem to solve but an aspect of the larger picture of our spiritual unfolding.
Whenever we start something new, at varying points in the process, things will feel a bit shaky. Your task is less to fix or eradicate the problem and more to learn how to create the maximum health, strength, and resiliency. It’s just like when a baby starts to walk: you make sure that the baby is supported enough for them to learn how. Sometimes you provide extra support, sometimes you let the baby work through it alone. But there is nothing wrong with a baby who can’t walk gracefully. That’s what you’re doing with yourself. Sometimes the remedy for feeling shaky because you are stretching past your capacity is to bring yourself back to a place where you are fully resourced. And other times, it is best to take the risk.
You can move yourself in the direction of what you are creating, knowing that of course it’s going to happen because that’s the direction you’re going. You can make the trip as easy as possible, or you can worry the whole way. You pay attention: “This is where I can hold really well. Okay, this is the line where I’m not holding really well. Okay, let me find my edge. Let me take half a step instead of a full step. Okay. Still happened. Let me take a quarter step instead of a half step. All right, got it. All right, now let me try again.”
Slowing down to the rate of your unfolding rather than driving it forward with some sort of expectation ultimately makes the process easier and (believe it or not) faster. This is true for all of us when it comes to the unfolding of our lives. The slowing down is actually the speeding up of the process, and it requires maturity.
As we focus on slowing down and resourcing ourselves, it almost magically shifts our focus so that we worry less about making sense of it all and fixing the problem, and pay more attention to the types of things that get the job done. The reasons behind what is happening become more readily apparent, and we can work more skillfully with what we have.