There is so much emphasis placed on seeking, doing and achieving these days. It used to only be on infomercials on late night TV, but now it is on Facebook ads and pretty much anywhere else you turn. We are bombarded with all of the “things you should be doing” or the “things you’re not doing.” All the courses you should be taking to make you the person you’re supposed to be...It’s enough to make your head spin.
Look, I think seeking, setting and working towards a goal is great; it builds confidence and competence. However, I also believe that when our focus is constantly aimed at achieving something, we don’t stop and accept and appreciate who we are and what we have. When we come from this place of lack, nothing is ever good enough--no matter how much money we make, how much weight we lift, no matter how skinny we are or how “spiritually developed” (according to how many workshops we’ve done).
I’ve been caught in this trap many times in my life. I’m not big enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not qualified enough, I don’t make enough money. If I can just reach that next level, achieve that next thing, then I’ll win, I’ll make it to the promise land. I’ll be recognized and respected for my expertise and make it to “heaven” or at least I’ll be happy.
This is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves and the interesting and scary thing is it leaves us vulnerable to be taken advantage of. Marketing is often aimed at this insecurity. I’m not trying to say all marketing preys on our vulnerabilities or that there are not services and products we need. What I am saying is that when we come from a place of lack of acceptance, nothing we do can seem to fill the void. We’re never big enough, strong enough, skinny enough, rich enough.
To address this, I like to take from tai chi, specifically from the practice of Tai Chi Push Hands. In essence tai chi push hands is a partner exercise where you push into your partner / opponent with the intent of disrupting their balance or center. The practice is to do this with minimal tension, attempting to stay relaxed and use leverage rather than force.
To be successful in the practice of push hands you have to cultivate sensitivity. This is done by feeling, by becoming aware of the floor under your feet and the touch of your partner / opponent. You have to receive them and you. If you resist, you’ll either be pushed over or potentially fall forward into your opponent.
We tend to resist what we don’t like or what makes us uncomfortable. We push it away. In push hands the practice is to sense it, acknowledge, and accept it without letting it disrupt our center or push us off balance. It’s a practice.
How does this apply to the seeking, doing, and achieving message we are bombarded with these days? Often, when we experience something in ourselves, something we think is not good, we push it away. We don’t want to acknowledge and accept it. We then tend to seek the opposite, with the belief that this will make us whole and eliminate the thing we dislike. But once we achieve our goal, if we truly achieve it, the joy dissipates quickly. If we haven’t addressed the underlying belief and fear that we have about our self, it is still there.
For instance, if I don’t believe I’m man enough or strong enough no matter how much weight I lift or how big I get, I will never “heal” the core wound until I address that belief and acknowledge that it exists. Again, seeking and achieving a goal isn’t wrong. It’s the place we're coming from that matters.
Often our ‘seeking’ is an attempt to feel whole and complete. This is something that we have to do on our own. No one and no thing can make you feel whole and complete. Only you. No matter how much money you have in the bank, how big your biceps are, or how flat your stomach is. The feeling of ‘being complete’ comes from within.
How does this relate to gaining strength and losing weight? When you acknowledge and accept where you are, you can move from that place with a more objective approach and a little less emotional judgment. Seek less and acknowledge and accept yourself more.
I think what most of us are looking for is peace and presence. Whether we’re seeking money so we can possibly have more time or whether we’re seeking a change in our body so we can have a little more peace of mind, I think the work truly begins with acknowledgment and acceptance to neutralize the judgment and move forward from a place of understanding.
No matter what you have or will accomplish, it will never provide you with a sustainable peace of mind or presence of awareness. Those can only come from within.