Competing to Win and Ambition

I had this realization when playing badminton today. I swear if you want to get to know yourself better and have your own ongoing revealing personal development program, play badminton. It is amazing. It lets you know what’s going on in your life based on how you’re playing. I did this talk with another great badminton player about all the wonderful things that happened in our lives from badminton, including being able to see a lot about what is going on personally. It’s not just that you get to see things, you get to apply all these principles you have maybe just read or heard about in a safe context – a badminton match.


Today, I asked to play singles with an extremely well-trained player in badminton. I always have a philosophy to play really strong badminton, however one thing I noticed was my drive to win has been completely absent. I just sought to always play my best game, but since I haven’t been competing, I just didn’t have a drive to win. I had a drive to do well and exercise, but not this strong focus on every shot being engineered for my success.

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a full-time photographer. I interact with a lot of photographers, and I always have this little jealousy – I know it’s hard and a lot of work to be a full time photographer who is not only doing wedding photos, but oh I so wish I pursued my artistic passion as my career path as well! Aside from telling me I’ll be doing it soon, he told me the most important factor is your ambition. And I was like – oh right! Of course!

I somehow have forgotten about this little (BIG) thing called ambition since leaving a lot of my thought-so dreams. Many dreams that were cancelled from the separation I experienced, or from the jobs I worked not turning out to be positive experiences. It’s not that I completely gave up on them, they just kind of went on backburner mode as I frantically tried to support OPDs – other people’s dreams.

And along with my dreams being quiet was the part of me who is a truly competitive, ambitious badminton player. That ambition to always win regardless of what goes on on the other side of the court and regardless of the end result – that’s the ambition you need in every single match. The opponent may tell you things but you’re fully focused on yourself and your own game. He or she may do something funny but you’re completely focused on yourself and your own game. ALL 100% of your energy is on yourself and what you’re doing – the shots you’re placing, the game you’re playing, the player you’re being. Maybe it’s because I’m not at that high, professional competitive level, but I venture to say that focus on yourself all you need as a “game plan strategy” in badminton, no matter what your opponent is doing. Because experience and intuitive awareness from matches will build the strategy. And sometimes I find strategy not reliable. I was taught so much strategy – if the person is tall do this, short do that, strong do this, stout do that. What a waste of time and energy now that I look back, compared to just placing all of your focus and energy on your own game. Of course it helps and you can win with it, but what’s the point of strategy if you’re not a powerful player already, filled with your own vision and your own ambition and drive to win.

So what happened in my game, I played better than I have in the past 8 years. Maybe in my entire career. With zero training and spares singles games. And I had this realization like what if I approached my entire life in this way? I’ve been knowing I’ve been wasting time regretting some decisions, and trying to forget about that regret. But dropping it and moving on hasn’t shown me to be the answer either. What if I became devoted to my spiritual discipline and practice with this level of ambition? What if no matter what I have to do tomorrow in my job, like it or not, that I just focused on myself anyways? I can see that being a challenge with person after person to interact with in an office situation, but hey – what works in badminton works in real life.

Who do I choose to be then? And what would be different – what would I choose to be different in my life if I apply this?

I’ve been recently coming to a lot of lessons on letting go of pride and choosing to be courageous in that – more posts to come on that.

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Why is personal development not working for me?

I’ve been reading personal development ever since I could read. Ok, maybe a few years after that, but I always loved books and movies that would promise a possibility of a different life through inner change. I am still in love with the possibilities personal development opens us to if we are willing (or perhaps a better word would be eager) to look at the ways in which we can change ourselves, and thus change our lives.

I can’t tell you how many personal development programs I’ve purchased and done online. How many counselors/coaches/therapists I’ve shuffled through. How many books I’ve read and reread, really wanting to improve and up my game so that I could better serve the world (ambitious perhaps, but not delusional!). And throughout the whole journey, no matter where I’ve come to, there is the possibility that I arrive at a time and space where I find myself thinking:

Why is personal development not working for me?

I know in my last blogpost I shared that I really achieved a very pure clarity that allowed me to see everything in my life the way it truly was and not as the illusions that made me suffer. And I also said this:

These systems started to work when I applied them in a certain way.

This quote of “a certain way” comes from The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. I realized that was what happened as I was writing about what I was doing, and thinking about how it hasn’t really been that way since that experience (as I share on this blogpost, I never seem to get things to work out for me). That certain way I guess could be described as “connecting with my soul,” as my previous blogpost was talking about, but that can be seen as airy fairy and really, what does that even mean if you don’t even believe we have a soul, or don’t know what that means?

Well recently I’ve been humbly inspired to another piece of this “certain way” business that really caught my attention. It came from listening to a couple of interviews and rereading the book of Anita Moorjani, Dying to be Me (which to me is a must read!).

Here’s the idea. Personal development is basically “promising” us that we will live a “happier” (or “more successful” or “more fulfilled”) life as a result of doing what they suggest. While a lot of this information is truly fantastic (and true, and very actionable and real), there is a big pitfall in such a promise. That is that we literally, actually, reality-ly, physically, metaphysically, nonphysically, cannot find ourselves in a space of happiness/success/fulfillment if we are looking for the answer outside of ourselves. And this is the state many people are in when they do come to personal development.

We realize that this whole time we’ve been doing things out of fear of something else, out of avoidance of something, rather than out of true desire. And when we approach personal development in this way, we are signing up for failure, every. single. time. without. fail.

Why?

Well if we accept the law of attraction, we know that you attract that which you fear. Thus, if you’re doing anything for the purpose of avoiding something, you will attract that something you’re avoiding. So if we’re looking at how to become financially successful out of a desperation to avoid being a financial failure, if that is what we are motivated by (this is what I mean by “outside of ourselves”), I personally don’t see how it could, metaphysically/physically/nonphysically speaking, ever work out and have us come out as a financial success. At best, it would be a quick fix or create the longterm struggle, produced purely through action.

If we get on the treadmill to avoid being fat, if we take the job out of fear of not paying the bills, if we marry the person out of fear of never being wanted, if we go to a party out of fear of being rejected, if we think positive to avoid negative manifestations, we will ultimately find ourselves unhappy, even if we are able to keep up with the exterior world. If we apply personal development to avoid being unhappy with ourselves or avoiding a certain situation or circumstance, I personally strongly believe that this is why a lot of personal development “isn’t working.”

Quick story to illustrate the point: I have a set of books called A Bug Free Mind by Andy Shaw. The lessons in this book were absolutely essential to creating my first miracle in relationships. It talks a lot about (ironically) why personal development doesn’t work, focusing mostly on the way our minds are working against us. The first time I read this, it was revelatory to me. My questions were answered through this book, and in that “round of realization and miracles,” it was exactly what I needed. Being in control of my mind was the foundation to creating a relationship I desired.

After my clarifying experience through cleaning my thoughts up, I left that space of pure clarity and I instantly recognized, due to past experience, that I was not in control of my mind – because I had figured this out the first time, and that had been the problem. I was thinking “Oh GOOD, I get to shortcut it this time without going through the worst experiences – let me just get my bum back to cleaning up my thoughts and controlling my mind!” Yet, I went through crappy experiences again. And that wasn’t because of the information (very seldom is it really about the information itself – I won’t say never though because there is some crap out there). It was because I was completely motivated by my fear of wrongthinking, messy thoughts, lack of structured thinking, being out of control of my mind, being controlled by my ego, and living a life I didn’t desire, that I kept reaching for these books and desperately tried applying the lessons! And guess what I got?

(Are you one of these people too?)

Another example is meditation. I see things like this all the time: meditation gives you more time because it relieves your stress and makes you more productive, and you get to connect with answers that you otherwise would spend days figuring out. What is this, the overfunctioning burnt-out workaholic’s special? Where we feed only more of the ego in the promise that we’ll make more things happen and gain more prestige and more money and more more more… (not saying there’s anything wrong with making things happen, prestige, money, or more, but chasing these things certainly doesn’t give us the experience of “having” them!)

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The opposite of this (the certain way!) is to be motivated by desire. This is the complete opposite to doing something to avoid something you don’t want. They may be the same things, for instance, getting married. But one being done out of desire to be expressing life with another vs one being done out of not wanting to feel like an old bag are completely different things!

Reading more and more personal development out of fear of the unhappy life just isn’t going to get you the happy life, as weird and meta as that sounds. Connecting with desire will. Maybe at some point I will pick up the personal development books and programs that do serve me, but it will be after I let myself come from a place of desire rather than avoidance.

Connecting with desire isn’t a difficult thing either; remembering to do so may be, just as creatures of habit, but you instinctively know the difference. A tip is just ask yourself whenever you’re aware of it: am I doing this out of the desire in my heart, or am I just trying to run away from something else?

Always let your heart decide, and get clear on what that means. Trust me, you don’t want to waste your time TRYING SO HARD to APPLY THESE DARNED PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES and GOSH DARN IT WHY IS IT NOT WORKING ALREADY?? Yeah, it’s not pretty. I’ll take that emotional craziness for you and encourage you to connect inside starting now, so that you don’t have to do that emotional craziness I did.

And if you’re thinking of applying what I’m writing here out of avoiding not getting what you want in personal development..well just think of what that’s creating!

xxx,

Catt

Gratitude

“The beautiful thing about the mind is that we can always change it.” – Lisa Guyman

It has been a pretty long time since I’ve posted, and really because I didn’t really feel there was anything to post for a while. I found myself wondering about what I would post if I were to post, and I come back to gratitude. I feel like it’s really all you ever really need to figure it out, as most anything I write about is related to gratitude in some way.

I used to do gratitude in an extremely egotistical way. Not because I was a nasty person or anything, I was just insecure about myself and felt that this was how to gain confidence. I would write things that I was grateful for that were very judgmental and hinged on the fact that others did not have the same privileges and advantages as I did. Which, I suppose, is a step up from complaining about everything. I also didn’t really do it so consistently. Sometimes whenever I sat down to ‘do gratitude’ it was kind of like a gratitude purge – just get it all out because everything is points. (I started doing gratitude after hearing it being touted by so many personal development programs as the way to bring more in your life and manifest your desires, and ooo boy did I want to bring more STUFF in my life, so I better get going on this gratitude stuff!)

Of course that never lasts. For me it lasted a little less than two months before the blowing event hit the fan, then I had to reconstitute the shattered little parts of me together again. But during that time, it was a constant stress and struggle of how to get the best be the best do the best best best best best best..all just based on how far I could see. I thought that I would have to get the best in the environment I’m in now, then jump to the next group and get the best in that, then jump to the next group until I got to the top. Well I’m genuinely grateful things don’t work out that way!

I started doing a gratitude journal seriously for the first time when I arrived in Milan two years ago. I had been trying to do it for a while, but something magical about being in Milan helped me that time. It wasn’t just because I was in Milan. A large part of it was that, but in actuality, it was how much I had yearned, really yearned, from a young age to be in Europe and see Europe that it instantly shifted me into a more genuine grateful attitude. The other thing was I had no distractions. I didn’t feel pressure in any of the ways I used to – no friends/social pressure, no family pressure. I was in a different place and living with a different family, making it a lot easier for me to focus on gratitude and appreciation. Of course, I could have chosen the route to attempt to keep up with the new social group obsessively and complain about the family I was living with, but thanks to the blowing event that hit the fan, I didn’t take that path.

The gratitude journal entries I did during that time still inspire me when I read them. I got a little wacky and out there, but all for fun. I was also using it as an affirmation and I gave thanks for a lot of things that had not yet come to pass, notably a romantic relationship based on my own self-love and feminine energy.

Here is an example of an entry I had:

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As you can see, even though that day I wasn’t having the best day and apparently had a lot of feelings of neediness, I was practicing an art – an art of self-love, an art of appreciating who and where I am no matter where that may be. Because we’re never going to get it done, so at any given point there can be a comparison where in some way it may seem like something negative. But that doesn’t mean it is, and it definitely doesn’t mean the mind needs to get caught onto it. I love the quote from Kamal Ravikant’s book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, where he says something along the lines of “It’s your mind. You can do whatever you want with it.”

In my experience, gratitude is the first step in improving your life, getting into spirituality, upgrading your attitude, or whatever positive change it is you seek to create. Think about it – can anything be positive if you’re not grateful for it? The thing about gratitude is it’s really like magic – better things start happening to you. And that’s not because the same crap happens to you and you learn to see it in a different way. That’s part of it, but it’s more of the ripple effect of where you choose to put your attention. There are crappy things you can put your attention on and there are wonderful things you can put your attention on. When you put your attention on the wonderful things, yes you start seeing the crappy things in a better light, but more wonderful things start moving towards you. It’s magic!

It may take a while, but if you’re in the ready space to do it, you get the feeling, you invite it in daily…I guarantee you that it will change you and your life forever.

Why not start a gratitude journal yourself today?

 

Grateful for you,

Catt