Lately, I’ve been noticing how some of my biggest aspirations actually hold me back from living fully.
When I started the path of personal development, I wanted to find enlightenment. I didn’t just want to wake up or be more loving, I wanted to totally be like Buddha or Jesus! When I discovered photography, I wanted to have fancy shows at famous galleries. When I started writing, I wanted to sell millions of books, be rich and tour the country! I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream big, but for me, if they are too far from where I am, I feel overwhelmed and disempowered.
Even more limiting, I hold myself to ideal states of being that I’m realizing are impossible to attain like being joyful in every moment. Yes, I can aspire to feel more joy in my life, but that doesn’t mean I should expect to feel joyful all of the time, and when I’m not, to then criticize and judge myself for not being in that ideal state.
This relates to idealism and perfectionism that have pervaded my life for many years. I can see how it has actually kept me living smaller, both because the goal is so big and intimidating, as well as the constant measurement against the ideal. This comparison brings up feelings of inadequacy, frustration, hopelessness, etc. Compassion and self-acceptance were my two main focuses for last year. As I’ve learned to accept myself with all the imperfections, humanness, failings and vulnerability, I am opening spaces for love, light and understanding to grow. This softness helps me develop compassion for not only myself, but for others as I see the commonality of our challenges in life.
So how do we aspire to great things, yet find joy and satisfaction in ours lives as they are now?
I still working on this, but I have glimmers of understanding filtering through my mind and body. I’m noticing that the more often I relax, accept and even applaud who and where I am now, then the more often I feel a spaciousness within that invites joy, peace and the motivation to take action that can move me toward those big dreams and goals.
I’ve also learned that smaller, easier and consistent steps have a better chance of creating lasting change than grandiose actions and plans.
For me, it’s not a case of either/ or, but rather how to let both be OK. How to have big dreams and focus on small doable steps. How to want more in life and accept my current life. And if I have to pick one, then I choose to enjoy today rather than aspiring to some future greatness.
And finally, no matter what happens, I’m practicing compassion, gratitude and kindness along the way to my destinations.