The Beauty of Already
In some of my recent readings there has been talk of 'the two sources of inspirational energy'. I knew of one source - focussing on what we want to be/do/have - what else could there be to cause inspiration? It seems that’s a pretty common assumption for the modern-day mind. Many of us regularly overlook one whole wellspring of inspirational energy and that is what we already are / have / have done. In the interests of constant improvement, we paradoxically miss out on a good 50% of where our energy to create actually comes from - and that is, from noticing and sufficiently honouring what already is.
Much of the world and its industries - education, health, banking, self-help, advertising - suggest that our attention is best placed on making our future life and self better than the present. That is hardly arguable, we are an aspirational species after all with built-in desires for improvement. It's not that we need to somehow shut off this evolutionary impulse, it's that we're missing out on some of what we need by thinking only, or predominantly, of what still needs to be done instead of also paying attention to what already is.
What are we missing out on? Peace, sufficiency, fun, rest and, ironically, some of the energy we need to keep being inspired to grow.
Intellectually, this makes sense to me but it has only been since I started playing with it in the details of my actual life, that it's become transformative.
To share this, I'm going to write about ‘the beauty of already in three parts, the first two of which are in this piece, namely honouring who we already are and what we've already done. In the next Bull’s Eye I’ll share about honouring what we already have.
The Beauty of Who You Already Are
Most of the people that have the guts and commitment to do some real personal growth with me, start off this journey with a catalogue of ideal traits they wish to lay claim to:
'I just wanna be a bit more confident, you know? And own my power and my beauty and my full genius. And, while you're at it, can you do something about my self-doubt and need for approval?'
Well, yes and no. What I mean by that is, while personal or spiritual growth may be motivated by the idea of improvement, it doesn’t actually get done that way. And what I mean by that is, we can only love ourselves into our blossoming, not criticise ourselves into our blossoming.
This brings us back to the beauty of already. To really emerge into our innate compassion and brilliance, we first need to see and understand and love who we already are - even the pieces and parts that we don't approve or have caused hurt. When we can actually see who we have become - defences and all - and get soft and forgiving towards it, we begin to improve.
The truth about personal growth, like the truth about everything I imagine, is paradoxical: it requires both the acceptance of what is and the development of what can be.
If you are only ever paying attention to who you still wish to become, you’ll miss the very doorway to getting there.
More than that, don't forget to notice and honour the parts of yourself you've already developed and already respect. I often hear in readings the suggestion to clients to please not take for granted who they have already grown into. Think of yourself five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. There are very likely to be things you’ve managed to let go of, to learn, to become disciplined about since then. There may be ways of listening, loving, drawing boundaries and creating that you’re better at, and that you’re not sufficiently acknowledging, using or being grateful for. Celebrating who you already are won’t mean you stop growing! It'll give you the energy, the patience and the self-love to do so optimally.
The Beauty of What You’ve Already Done
One of the things we discuss in my Joy of Work Seminar is how to discover your niche - your most particular and precious offering to the world. This is never a predictable, one-size-fits-all journey that can be accomplished by following a handy model (sorry), but certainly one of the useful avenues to explore is the idea of what you already do, and do well. Again, many of us overlook this in favour of thinking only about what we still want to do, or wish we could do better. I'm not at all suggesting you ignore your dreams of what you’d love to do (c'mon, I'm the Joy nag!) but I have observed over and over in helping clients transition from one career / lifestyle to another that to dismiss or overlook what you can already do / have done is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
It is highly likely that your niche in the world will be a combination of things that haven’t necessarily been combined before - like bringing music into engineering, coaching into cookery, poetry into personal growth. Or else, it could be achieved by bringing ALL your competencies into an area in which they may not have been used before - adding professionalism to graffiti art, consciousness to the butchery business or a wealth-mindset to a yoga practice. You have lived a whole life of experiences unique to you, which have developed you in unique ways and given you unique perspectives. In designing the life, or career, you'd most love to have don’t ignore the beauty of what you’ve already done.
The second part of this article, covering the beauty of what you already have, will be published in this newsletter next month.