When we move towards our desires and dreams we can create so much resistance. This resistance shows up as obstacles in our way to our dreams. The more we want to reach our dream, the more obstacles there will be. If we’re not careful, we could take these obstacles as an excuse to quit. Some spiritual people even say something along the lines of: I guess this was not meant to be.
If you desire it, if you want it, it was meant to be, only you have to step up to have it. In other words you have to evolve to experience it. That means creating something new and different. If you create nothing new and different, well how could things be different?
In a previous blog post, I wrote about tangible resistance or obstacles. These are nothing compared to our mental resistance. The tangible ones can be got over or around by anybody with a practical mind or access to some hands-on help. The mental resistance or blocks are much, much more difficult to overcome. In fact, we’re often not even aware of them.
Coaching is useful for both kinds of resistance. You can get a business coach, a book writing coach, a weight loss coach, a clutter coach to help you with the practical how to. They will also help you reveal your mental blocks to experiencing your desires, your dreams, your goals.
Right now, I’m sitting on the train from Toulouse to Bordeaux. We’re in lockdown here in France, but I’m travelling for professional reasons so I got permission. I’m off to Vendôme to learn the craft of lampshade making. My dream is to create beauty and to sell home furnishings online so that other people can get to experience this kind of beauty in their homes.
Another purpose behind this dream is to provide work for people stuck at home or simply unemployed: I would like to propose for them to make lampshades and then help me ship them off to all corners of the globe from our little village in the south of France. It could start out as a sort of cottage industry but perhaps we could take it further.
I could go into overwhelm over this. I could start thinking about the how of doing all this and I would soon be lost and grind to a halt thinking about how to train people, how to pay them, how to find customers. Not knowing each and every step on the way could have prevented me from getting on the train to Vendôme, telling myself: “It’ll never work.”
I’m sure it’ll never work in the sense that it won’t work the way I imagine it. Because who could imagine such a huge endeavour in detail without getting anything wrong? So I’m prepared to course correct. I’m prepared to tell myself when something doesn’t go the way I imagined: this is not the way to do it; let me find another. There is always another way of doing it. In the moment, we might not be able to see it but there always is.
Affirming this to myself can get me out of most scrapes. Compare the thought: There is always a different way of doing this.
This is not working as planned; let me stop it immediately because I don’t like it.
In life, there’s always going to be some unpleasant emotion. There’s pleasant emotion and then there’s unpleasant emotion. I want to dwell on the pleasant one, acknowledging the unpleasant one for the information it’s giving me.
Two kinds of unpleasant emotion
There’s the unpleasant emotion that I create thinking: I don’t know how and where to sell lampshades! Or: Who’s going to want to buy these lampshades? Or: Will I like making lampshades?
If I want to feel unpleasant emotion, I can pick any of these and dwell on them. You may be saying: “Why would you want to do that, Katrine?” Well, I don’t but when a thought like that crosses my mind, I want to pay attention because it is telling me where I may have some resistance happening. I just want to notice it, so that I can learn from it, and then I want to move on.
Many coaches tell you that you have to think thoughts like: I know how and where to sell lampshades, or I rock at selling lampshades, but this doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it because I’ve got no external proof that this is true: I’ve never sold a lampshade in my entire life; how can I affirm that I rock at it? It just boggles the mind.
To me, it’s much more useful to come into right relationship with uncertainty (borrowing this expression from Lissa Rankin), meaning I don’t need to be certain to make a move. I can allow myself to be comfortable not knowing, accepting a certain degree of uncertainty.
I’ve been able to develop this relationship with uncertainty because I realize that there are some things I can’t control. When I can’t control them, no point in worrying. If I can release the need to control, I can then be open to possibility. I’m open to being able to sell lampshades. I’m even open to rock at it. I’m not saying: “I have to be able to sell lampshades,” I’m just open to seeing, seeing how it unfolds.
As my lampshade adventure unfolds, I can try out different things. If I can’t sell them in a shop, maybe I can sell them online. If I can’t sell them in France, maybe I can sell them in Germany. This is what we mean when we say that we’re not attached to how our dreams are going to look. Just as well, as we can’t control that.
When we want to micromanage the outcome, we stay blind to possibility. If I say: “I want to sell lampshades in France made with silk from France, costing $200 a piece, and I want to sell 200 in 2021,” I’m making it very difficult for myself. I’m in fact setting myself up for failure. (I’m not bashing goal-setting; this is just not the right moment for it.)
The more specific I am in how my dream is going to look, the more likely it is that I won’t achieve it and I will call it a failure. If I’m open to it looking wildly different, I can then call anything that involves making and selling lampshades a success.
Taking my Lead from Pleasure
This is where my pleasure-barometer comes in useful; if I’m not constantly checking my pleasure-barometer, I could be getting myself into a rut. All the time I’m pursuing my lampshade venture, I want to make sure that I’m experiencing pleasure. As I said, I’m sitting on the train to Bordeaux to learn how to make lampshades, and I’m fully expecting to like it. In fact, I’ve been wanting to learn for some time so I’m thrilled to finally gift myself the opportunity to do so.
Everything I do in this project has to be pleasurable but then some things aren’t. When things aren’t pleasurable, it’s tempting to give into frustration, anger, impatience, boredom and tell yourself that it’s not worth the effort.
As with all other obstacles, this is an opportunity to quit. We like to say: “This is too hard, I can’t do this,” but if we discard the desire to procrastinate and we remind ourselves that it is also an opportunity to grow, to see things differently and become more of who it is we are, then we can allow all this emotion to translate onto excitement.
Another way of becoming good at navigating unpleasant emotion is to cultivate your discomfort tolerance (read my blog post on discomfort tolerance here). If you’re willing and able to get a little bit uncomfortable without it being the end of the world, you’ll have a much pleasanter experience of being uncomfortable.
Here’s a recap to help you take your first step towards your dream:
1. Dream, allow yourself to dream. You can have it be wildly improbable to highly improbable. The important part here is not to censure yourself (forget about it being realistic).
2. Choose one thing to do about it. This will set you in motion and start the momentum. You can allow yourself to choose something that brings you pleasure in and of itself. That way, you’re sure to experience pleasure independently of the end result.
3. Make a list of all the things you don’t know how to do to get you to your dream. These can be tangible obstacles or just thoughts you have about your project (remember, this is all called resistance).
4. Suspend disbelief. Agree with yourself that maybe you don’t know exactly how to do something, but you’re likely to find a solution or know somebody with one. You can develop a mantra here if you like: People and circumstances are always conspiring to bring me to the fulfilment of my dream. If this doesn’t work for you, say something like: I’m willing too be surprised at how quickly I overcome obstacles.
5. Be willing to fail or put differently, be willing to relinquish control over what your dream must look like.
6. Embrace and celebrate every success, meaning every action step that you complete. This will reinforce your faith in yourself as well as in your dream.
7. Be willing to experience discomfort. When you’re uncomfortable, rejoice and tell yourself that you’re growing. How exciting! Discomfort never killed anybody.
8. Develop trust. Trust that you’re on the path to your dream. You know that you’re going to be a different person when you arrive there because you’ll have learnt so much. This is all well and good.
(If you’re ready to design your dream, please check out my brand new course Dream Design.)
Lack of Help and Support
Remember that other people may be wet blankets. They might not believe you capable of moving towards your dream or they might deem your dream unrealistic. This has got nothing to do with you or with your dream. This has got everything to do with other people’s mindsets and limitations.
Also, many people are unable to imagine somebody wanting something they don’t want themselves. This again has got everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. If you allow them to stop you, you’re just buying into their limitations. Surround yourself with people who like dreaming and who know that when you stop dreaming, you become depressed, you feel stuck, you lack purpose and then you get ill.
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About the author:
Katrine Horn is a speaker and life coach who guides women to create the life of their dreams, to recognize their intrinsic value and release the illusion that life is a struggle. Katrine teaches women how to manage their emotions leaving them free to embrace opportunity when it comes their way. She helps them enter their Zone of Excellence where there are able to step aside to allow their highest good to find them.
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