I was talking to a friend of mine last week who works with couples and their intimacy issues. It’s her life’s work and she adores it, but she talks about stuff that would make many of us squirm. As a business owner, her work can sometimes make her feel vulnerable, which also means that it can be difficult for her to put herself out there and her efforts endeavors come to a grinding halt.
Doubting herself, she'll often ask — Can I do this? Which only sends her into total collapse. She forgets that when she doesn’t question whether or not she can do something, her track record is incredible! She can keep showing up and talking about things that are so tender and often confrontational for her audience, but it's like she has to be reminded that she is capable.
Here's the thing:
"Can I do this?" is not a productive question.
Needing something to work out a certain way is like sticking your tender desires to fly paper. "Can I do this?” is code for “Will everything work out the way I want it to?” and "Will I get the results I want?" Since that is, and always will be, a complete unknown and mostly out of your control, putting your efforts there is not only a giant waste of your time, but it also it confounds you.
It's like when your teacher told you in 5th grade to "Keep your eyes on your own paper." There is a reason Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, "You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action.” I’m no Gita scholar but the way I’ve been taught to read this passage is “Do what calls to you, do your duty, and keep your eyes off the outcome.
If you just focus on the outcome and risk losing sight of your duty and your desires, you may start to think it’s all about you and all up to you, which it certainly isn’t. This is an illusion that we humans love to create.
Here's what I'd like you to consider:
What if you get stuck while pursuing your deepest desires and shaping your truest life, not because you aren’t smart, talented, or experienced enough, but simply because you want and NEED the assurance that it will all work out? That you can do it in a way that brings you exactly the outcome you want.
What if the antidote to this mindset was to put your head down and just do the work? Don’t hide from your ache for success and safety, but don’t let it run your life.
Your need for something to work out can cause hang-ups. Instead, you could just nod at it and say, “Hi there, lovely and very human desire for success and certainty, nice to have you here with me. I understand, I'd love everything to be stunningly wonderful too, but that's not up to me and never will be." And then you can get back to taking action and enjoying the process.
When there is a continuum of mindful learning, there is focus on what you can do, what brings you alive, what serves others, and taking tiny steps and sometimes vast and soaring leaps to do that.