Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been doing a lot of striving lately. Striving to make my business work, striving to make my relationships work, striving to make my life not seem like a colossal waste of time.
What do I mean by “striving”? Well, for me that’s the word that best describes the panicky, desperate, clawing-for-success effort I put into things when I feel like I’m losing my grip. Striving is all about spinning-my-wheels, addicted-to-action effort, that usually has little to do with what’s in my heart. Striving is the opposite of trusting.
Striving is the space I’m in when I think “if only I could figure out the magic to online marketing like so-and-so, I’ll be able to sell more copies of How to Lead with your Paint Clothes on“.
Or “maybe if I create a few ‘cheap and easy‘ e-courses and sell those first, I’ll be able to generate more of an audience for the ‘hard and soulful’ stuff that’s closer to my heart”.
Or “perhaps I’m not tweeting enough, engaging enough, marketing enough, hanging out with the cool kids enough… etc., etc.”
Or “maybe if I could just get an endorsement from So-and-So-Bigshot I’d have hoardes of people flooding my blog.”
Or “I’m just not going to the right events, meeting the right people, doing the right dance, singing the right songs.”
Or, in the relationship realm, “something’s broken and if I don’t bend over backwards to FIX IT NOW, then I’ll be a failure, the relationship will be a failure, everything will suck, and it will all be MY FAULT.”
Honestly? Striving sucks. It sucks big time. It sucks all of the energy and creativity out of my soul and leaves me depleted and feeling lost.
Striving is the stuff I do when I’m not being true to myself. Striving is the stuff that takes me far from my authentic self, far from my heart, far from the path I feel called to.
Striving is almost always about comparing myself to other people and finding myself lacking.
And the truth is, striving never works. Striving takes me down a dead-end-road every single time. Maybe not right away (sometimes there are momentary rewards that make it seem worthwhile), but in the end, it’s always the same – failure.
Whenever I’ve attempted any kind of suck-out-my-soul marketing, or paste-a-cheery-face-on networking, I fail. I can’t lie to my heart. I can’t “fake it”. I can’t cozy up to So-and-So-Bigshot or market like Big-Shiny-Expert – I just can’t. It’s not me and it never will be.
I’m learning the same about relationships. When I’m giving away pieces of my heart that don’t feel right to give away, or participating in things that feel like betrayal to my heart, I’m losing and the relationship isn’t really working (even though it may temporarily seemed fixed because of my actions).
If I can’t sell the things that are true to my heart, that evolve out of my deepest truths, then I might as well go get that job as a postal carrier that I’ve been tempted to get. Because at least walking the neighbourhood delivering people’s mail feels authentic and honest and doesn’t turn me into a big fat self-loathing fraud.
Authenticity is the only way I know how to live. I mean REALLY live, not just “get by”.
A meditation teacher once taught me “When you’re sitting in meditation, and a thought enters your mind, don’t try to judge it or chase it away. Just label it ‘thinking’ and let it pass. And then when the next thought comes, do the same with it.”
I’ve started to apply that teaching to my temptation to strive. Whenever I sense myself doing that inauthentic, desperate-for-sucess striving, I simply label it “striving” and then let it pass. Once it is past, I try once more to lean into trust.
Because trust is the only thing that can replace striving. Trust in God. Trust in my own authentic heart. Trust that even if I fail, I will be okay and my failings don’t define me as a failure. Trust that Sophia God is calling me down this path for a reason, even if that reason seems blurry these days. Trust that there is goodness and abundance available for me.
Trust that the best thing I can offer the world is not a reasonable facsimile of Big-Shiny-Expert, but authentic, beautiful, flawed, honest me.