8 Mental Habits I Had to Quit to Live a Passionate Life
The year was 2006.
I was a professional poker player.
And while I had once enjoyed poker, it was quickly losing it’s vitality.
My heart was aching for something else.
Little did I know that I was already on the right path
What was wrong wasn’t the path I was on, but the mental habits that were stopping me from seeing the truth.
I was blinded to the fact that life is a journey, and so is finding and living your passion.
So what were the habits that blinded me? Let’s have a look:
My story begins with excuses. Deep down, I knew what I needed to do next.
I felt inspired to share my story, my truth. But I was held back by my own thoughts, such as:
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t know enough
- I haven’t found the perfect passion
- Who would want to listen to me?
- I don’t have the connections
- I don’t know where to start
- What if this ends up being a waste of time?
Eventually, I had to face the fact that if I wanted to move forward, I had to do it despite the excuses roaming around in my head.
It took me until 2009 to finally break free from my self-imposed prison.
There was never anything holding me back. I was always in charge of which thoughts to give power to.
Letting go of my excuse-making habit was a practice. I went from focusing on what could go wrong to asking myself: What tiny step can I take next?
I focused on what I could do with what I had. And I realize that all I ever needed to do was to listen to my inspiration, and take the next step.
It wasn’t easy, nor was the path always clear.
At that time, the tiny next step was to start my blog, Wake Up Cloud.
That’s when I ran into the next mental obstacle: perfectionism.
I wanted to get everything just right, so no one could criticize or judge me. Perfectionism was me protecting myself against the world.
But deeper than that, it was me making the dangerous assumption that I had to protect myself from something.
Today, I see that perfection is a great ideal, but not an achievable goal. I’m always growing and improving.
I will never be perfect, and that’s part of the beauty of life.
I can only ever do my best. Following my heart is my job. Controlling life, and other people, is not.
What helps me deal with perfectionism is remembering that this isn’t about instant perfection, but about constant progress.
3. What Will People Think?
Hand in hand with perfectionism is the habit of worrying about what people will think of me.
When I started out, I avoided doing video, because I was afraid that my friends would see what I was up to, and think it was silly.
Today, I see how silly that fear was.
The truth is that people don’t care about what I do. I say that in a good way. They have their own lives to live.
And even if people do care about what I think, it doesn’t change how I live my life.
I’m not going to let someone else stop me from following my passion, and living the life I know I was meant to live.
People can say what they want, but I’ll keep doing what I love.
4. I’m a Fraud
As my business has grown, so has the responsibility I have to my readers, customers, and clients.
I worry about not knowing enough, not helping people enough.
This mental habit is beneficial as long as it doesn’t keep me from moving forward.
It shows that I care about what I do, and the people I help.
To deal with feeling like a fraud, I like to get out my notebook and ballpoint pen. I investigate the feeling. I ask myself questions such as:
- What specifically am I not good enough at?
- What am I doing well?
- What have I learned in the last year?
- What can I do to become better right now?
- Is this vague feeling of not being good enough helpful?
I may not be good enough at everything, but I’m great at the things I do know.
I will never stop learning, which means I can never know everything. I can only ever share what I know. And that’s enough.
5. Comparing Myself to Others
There are people out there who know more than me.
But comparing myself to others is a lie, because no one is like me. I’m not here to walk the path of someone else.
As May Sarton once said: “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
My passion does not look like anything out there. I have to walk into the forest and create my own path.
I have to be willing to trust my heart, and see where it takes me.
I work with what I have. I deal with my insecurity of not being enough. I feel both fear and joy, because they are both sides of the same coin.
6. Yearning for Results
Next up is the dangerous assumption that the more I achieve, the happier I will be.
I used to work around the clock, thinking that I’d achieve my goals faster. But all I did was squander my time.
As I’ve relaxed, I’ve noticed that the less I force, the happier I am, and the faster the progress I make.
That reminds me of the following quote from Lao Tzu: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
I do my best to find enjoyment in the present moment. I work for works sake.
If I’m doing something I don’t want to do, I notice that the struggle is coming from the story I’m telling myself, not from life. I bring my mind back to the present moment, and things become easier.
7. Avoiding Struggle
Life is difficult.
However, the problem isn’t the difficulty of life, but me resisting it.
As M. Scott Peck writes in his best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled: “If someone is determined not to risk pain, then such a person must do without many things: having children, getting married, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of ambition, friendship – all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant. Move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain. But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.”
The more I resist life, the more I suffer.
The more willing I am to face struggle, the more it melts away.
What matters is not what life delivers, but how I react.
I’ve noticed in my life that what I think are negative events, actually lead me to my passion, to my calling.
As poet Khalil Gibran once wrote: “How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?”
I rise above difficulty and struggle. I enjoy both the sweet and the bitter of life.
I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. And each day, I become better.
8. Living Logically
Last, but not least is my mental habit of wanting to live life logically.
I can plan. I can try to figure out the future, but life doesn’t care about my plans.
I don’t know where my life is going.
I can’t plan for a future I’ve created in my own mind. I can only listen to the song of my heart. To follow the positive pulls of my inner being.
For example, when I thought about writing this article, I felt open, relaxed, and happy.
It’s not a slap in my face kind of happy, but a subtle opening up of my heart.
As the great poet Rumi said:
“Although the road is never ending
take a step and keep walking,
do not look fearfully into the distance…
On this path let the heart be your guide
for the body is hesitant and full of fear.”
My body may be full of fear, but my heart knows where to go. It doesn’t give me a map. It gives me the next step.
I blend practicality with spirituality, and I move forward.
So Here’s the Thing
Yet I’m following my passion, and doing work I love.06
It wasn’t always like this. I had to be willing to start before I was ready.
With each step, I’ve grown to trust myself, and trust life. I don’t know what’s coming. And that’s okay.
I don’t have to know.
All I have to do is take the next step.
Photo by Courtney Carmody