Whenever we are engaged in an activity that we don’t want to do, we are acting in opposition to ourselves.
Part of our energy is going towards doing the activity.
And part of our energy is going towards resisting doing the activity.
This energy shows up in procrastination, inner disharmony, suppression activities (watching TV, drinking, addiction), anger, and depression. Sometimes it shows up as unconscious sabotage. This is what I call counter-intention.
In contrast, when you are doing something you love and believe in, you are fully engaged. Every part of you is into it, and you are happy. An incredible amount of joy, creativity, and productivity is possible from this place.
Now some of our counter-intention is resistance that comes from beliefs like “I don’t deserve to be successful” and “I’m not good enough”. But the kind of counter-intention I want to talk about right now is the kind that comes from the belief “I have to do this” or “I have no choice”.
This is never true.
We always have a choice.
Our mind has often been conditioned to believe we don’t. And that belief causes untold misery.
Because I detest misery, I have made a primary commitment to myself to eliminate all activities I do not truly want to participate in. This includes:
- not meeting with people I am not interested in meeting with
- not picking up the phone if I don’t feel like talking on it
- not going to social events if I am not into them
So you might say “well, but there are some things you just have to do.” Like your taxes. Like your laundry.
Yes and no. If you think about just how much resistance you have to certain tasks, and how much of your life energy and time you are wasting just in resistance–you may find the motivation to find another way to get those things done.
For years I’ve hardly ever met with my web design clients in person or talked to them on the phone.
Now, how can that be? I run a web design business and it’s kind of standard practice to have face to face meetings with your clients.
Well first, I primarily attract them through search engines, so they are usually web-oriented. So my chosen marketing method attracts the kinds of people who like to work primarily through web and email. That works for me.
I have a huge amount of internal resistance to the whole ritual of meeting with clients. So I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to volunteer to do that unless I really felt like it. Sometimes I would if the client seemed fun (if I thought I would have a good time). If they seemed like a client that wants to have a lot of meetings, I steered them somewhere else because I knew I would be unhappy (and my resistance would show).
For a long time I had a jackal that said there was something wrong with me for not wanting to do client meetings. Even writing it here I feel a little nervous–what will people think? But the bare truth is they just aren’t fun for me. I’m an introvert, and I don’t think well on my feet, and it’s like a mini-interview. I’m not at my best.
So, have I turned away business that I could have gotten if I’d been more willing to do in-person meetings? Yes. Could I have missed meeting some interesting people by doing them? Possibly. BUT–is the energy and joy I reclaimed by saying no to an activity that I had a huge amount of resistance around insanely worth it? YES!
Here are some things I get to say YES to by saying no to things I don’t want to do:
- lying in bed till noon thinking of cool ideas about what I want to do with my businesses and what the spiritual purpose of life is
- going to lunch and hanging out with my friends
- writing in my journal and my blog
- making art
- working on passive income strategies
- producing great work for my clients
- going to personal growth workshops
- going for walks in the park
Another area I say no to is deep cleaning my house. $40/month for one hour every two weeks is entirely worth it to me. Do I have to pay for that? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. It’s my choice.
How much energy are you spending resisting, procrastinating, and arguing with yourself?
What do you currently make yourself do?
First just accept that you just don’t like doing this activity. For me, for instance, a major one is exercise. I hate it. Treadmills, weight-lifting, it’s all ick. I feel sad sometimes and do wish I had more aliveness in my body that I know would come from moving my body more. But until I find a form of exercise I can wholeheartedly say YES to, I’m just not willing to force myself to do something I hate. I won’t do that to myself anymore.
So you might not be entirely happy with the things you don’t like doing. But this is you. And you’re OK. You don’t have to like it. And it’s OK to find some other way for it to get done. Get support. Ask for help. Delegate or outsource it. Or just say no, this is not something I offer.
Self-acceptance is a major key to happiness.
If you can’t accept what makes you happy, you’ll never give it to yourself. If you can’t accept what doesn’t make you happy, you’ll keep forcing it on yourself and stay unhappy.
Next ask yourself what you truly love (and it’s OK if you don’t know the full answer yet–I’m still figuring that out too!). Now imagine if you had all of your energy directed just towards that. What could you accomplish? How much fun would you have? How much would your heart sing every day just to be alive?
Now ask yourself, do I really have to do that thing I hate? If someone was holding a gun to my head, could I figure out some other way for that to get done?
Now think about that gun. Imagine you are killing a part of yourself (the part of you that wants to have fun and enjoy life) every time you do that task you hate and tell yourself you have to do it.
That’s really what I believe happens. I believe we suppress parts of ourselves that are honestly saying “no, I don’t like this” and we endure it because we think we have to. But we don’t. We always have a choice.
I’ve been dedicated over the past 5 years to eliminating anything I was “enduring” and doing only what truly was alive for me. It’s a practice that is completely worth it.
There are still things I do that I don’t completely love every second. But I don’t have that soul-grinding internal resistance anymore, because I just say no to doing those things. I make a conscious choice about where I spend my energy, because it is my very aliveness that I’m talking about. I will not tell myself “I have to do x” because that is a lie, and when we lie to ourselves in that way it creates an internal schism that causes depression and illness. Our souls know we are free. We just need to listen!
Lastly, I trust myself that I’m working to get things in place so I don’t have to do any remaining tasks I don’t truly enjoy (ie finding a bookkeeper). That trust is essential. There is something that happens when you make an internal commitment to no longer participate in your own oppression. Other people may have their ideas of what you should do, but you know in your heart that only you decide what you are going to do. This is an inner independence that is essential to happiness and to personal power. And it’s something you choose for yourself. You develop it out of your own will. It’s a personal and internal decision to value yourself and your life energy. It’s a decision you make to be your own friend rather than your own oppressor.
And what follows is a commitment to give yourself everything you need to be fully alive and happy. And that’s another post!