For the Universe-Denters, the Leapers, and the Dreamers: What To Do With The Voices In Your Head
Friday, April 22, 2016
“What do stars do?” - Yvaine, in the movie Stardust
I’ve been in hermit-mode lately. I suspect that the people who dream big and make stuff happen all maybe do the hermit thing every once in a while. For me, it’s the best way to get a lot done. If I’ve got the news blaring and the Facebook streaming and the conversations chattering, I get very easily distracted. Quiet time is good.
It’s also a bit tricky. Because of the voices. You know the voices. These are not the voices from above; the voice of God, or the voices of ethereal and imaginary demons. These are the voices of very real people. People you know. Including yourself.
Some of us have a constant personal narrative going, and not necessarily a positive one. One benefit - or draw - to becoming a life coach is that you get pretty good at getting out of your own way. It’s not 100% effective; I think we all go through rough spots and need to bring in backup from time to time. There are lots of ways to turn that thinking around... although that is definitely a subject for another post, for some Counterfear Tools to come, or for a deeper personal dive.
The voices that have been getting to me in the quiet time lately are not my own.
The voices are those of the unbelievers. The skeptics. The worry-warts. The second-guessers.
To be fair, it’s not necessarily a whole crowd. But those voices are out there. We all know them. I suspect we’ve all got some around.
The seeds of doubt they sow may have been planted years ago, and have matured into full cornstalks by now. Or - heaven forbid - a whole cornfield. Sometimes the seeds are continually cast, on scale. Like with a planter. Can you tell I moved to farm country?
So what do we do, with the voices? Hopefully, we’ve all got dreams. It’s a whole lot easier to reach those dreams if we’ve got some good tools to hack through the distracting doubting cornstalks.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ve got the secret answer. I’m going to tell you what helped me get through my own duel with the voices this round - and it did not involve heavy farm equipment.
Idea 1: Review Your Old Goals
So, start by having a look at your goals. Like the really, really old ones. See how they turned out. If those aren’t so good, find some later goals that worked out. You’re still alive, because you’re reading this… so you must be doing something right. My guess is a lot of things. Have a look at what they are. If you don’t believe this, check around with some of your closest supporters. I'd bet that they have some stories for you.
One of my earliest goals was to become a park ranger. In fourth grade, I came to understand that worms are, in fact, icky. Goal cancelled. Later, I learned that park rangers don’t necessarily have to touch worms. Goal reinstated. Starting in high school, I worked myself into park rangering via lifeguarding. That didn’t involve worms so much as mouse poop, pesticide (a danger of damned-up-creek-lakes in farm country), and a surprising amount of mold (“other duties as assigned”). Most of which was pretty indicative of my actual park ranger time later on.
I set another lofty goal in high school: getting the hell out of Iowa. Not the heck out of - the hell out of. I managed to kill two birds with one stone when I landed my first gig as an out-of-state seasonal park ranger in Shenandoah National Park (actual bird-killing not allowed - with stones or otherwise). Virginia!!! Woohooo! No small accomplishment. It took some serious reverse-engineering-plotting-and-job-experience for a couple of years to make that happen, but I did it. An illustrious start to a sometimes-“challenging” federal career.
Who would think that many, many years later I would go to so much work to get the hell out of Virginia, and back to Iowa? I had a couple of moves and states in-between, but still. My love affair with Virginia was a long one, but goals change. And who would have imagined that park-rangering would lead to wildland fire and then to homeland security? Well, that would have been tricky, because back when I was a kid, homeland security wasn’t even a thing. And who dreams of responding to terrorism? Well, now I know the answer to that question. Lots of folks dream of fighting hatred. We’ve all got dreams.
My point is - there has got to be a whole list of stuff that you have done that you have succeeded at. I’ve had this somewhat unbelievable life to date, but in the end… I’m still grateful to have survived high school without getting dead or getting arrested. I am not making that up. When I check in on that goal, a whole lot of other things slide into perspective.
Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come. The voices forget, too. But the voices aren’t always there for the whole journey. Which brings me to the next one….
Idea 2: Check In on Your Dreams Now
"We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why even be here?" - Steve Jobs
This idea may look like the first idea, but this is more like checking in on your current dreams. My guess is - they’re probably a little bit complicated. I’d like to think we’ve all got some vision for the future - but I don’t think those visions are always super simple to execute. I’m totally picturing scenes from the movie Miss Congeniality, where the beauty pageant contestants all end up saying they want “world peace.”
The tricky bit about vision is the detail of it. You’ve got to reverse-engineer that big vision of yours to work. And yes, it’s a big vision: because Imagination is powerful. Every move we make reverberates in the world. Imagination creates the world we’re living in tomorrow.
The path between here and there is not always easy or obvious to outsiders. You know what you need to do to reach your vision (and if you don’t, call for some help with that). There may well be an awfully lot of detail. It may take more time than you expect... as many, many projects do. The voices may not be privy to the whole path; to all of the detail. But the voices don’t need to understand the vision - or the details. You do.
You’re the vision-executer. You’re the implementer. You do what you need to do to make it happen.
Ask for help if you need to - but maybe not from the voices. Find an ally, or build a team. Build connections. Leverage, and amplify. Get some back-up. Work the contingencies. Use the prudence. Put some safeguards in place. Build outward from a safe spot. Anchor and flank. Take turtle steps. Find helpful tools, and learn how to use them. Iterate. Plow forward.
Also, keep an eye out for agricultural analogies.
You’ll make progress. And as you do…
Idea 3: Shine
Yes, I said "shine." That sounds super life-coachey of me, and I can’t believe I write stuff like that now.
It. Is. Possible.
One of my favourite movies is the fairy-tale for adults, called “Stardust.” No, not an adult-rated fairytale. A fairy-tale for adults. It’s perfect, too. We need that sort of thing.
If you haven’t seen the movie and want to, you should skip this next bit, because I’m going to give away the movie ending. I think this post enhances the movie-viewing experience, but I’m a bit biased. Also, the movie is a fairy tale. Fairy tales have happy endings. So you know that going in.
Here’s what happens…
At the end of the movie, there is a battle. It is a battle of misbegotten-intention and weapons and magic and love and family, but in the very very end - it is mostly voices. Actually, it becomes one looming voice. The voice brings doubt; threatening doom, and promising failure. It is a scary voice. The voice carries fear itself.
Our heroine, Yvaine, is a star. A fallen star. She has maybe up until this point forgotten where she came from. It’s been a bit of a rough journey - what with the falling out of the sky and the evil witches and the fighting and so on.
But then she remembers.
In the very tippy-point of the end, our heroine, Yvaine, takes hold of our hero - a boy freshly out of weapons, and options.
She asks him, “What do stars do?”
And then she shines. The evil witch cannot survive all of the light everywhere.
Sometimes we don’t remember that we can shine. Sometimes we don’t feel strong enough. Sometimes we don’t love ourselves, or we don’t remember how much we love the people we are around. Or maybe better put - we don’t remember how to love the people we are around.
Someone had to remind me.
When we shine, it spreads. When we thrive; it casts seeds. Our flourishing touches more people than we know. When we're on fire, we cast sparks. Light catches.
We can all do it. You don’t have to be a fairy-tale fallen-star to shine. We’re made of stardust. We’re made of atoms; of energy. We’re made of souls. We’re inherently shiny.
When I remember about shining... everything else falls away. If there’s a secret in all of this, I reckon that’s it. It’s not-so-secret, though; it’s hidden right in plain sight in a magical make-believe Hollywood movie. The most beautiful thing about the shininess is that it spreads. There is no limit.
Take a look around. Shiny people are everywhere… even though they may not be obvious at first glance. They are the brand-new babies, the giggling kiddos, the happily-contented friends.
The mentors. The learners. The builders. The volunteers. The grateful. The awe-inspired.
The dreamers. The leapers. And the universe-denters.
What do stars do?
Ready to SHINE? Check out private coaching at inclusive pricing rates. We can get there. We are, after all, made of stars.
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