Barb Patterson and I are preparing for our next Engaged Space 30-Day Experiment. This is an opportunity to play with being engaged in any area of your life in a light-hearted way and to step into the unknown and see what is revealed to you.
One of the themes that has been coming forward in my coaching conversations with clients recently is the distinction between insecurity and inspiration fueling actions. As a coach, I work with people who want to take their performance to the next level. Frequently the reason people reach out for coaching is that they feel stuck. They are often struggling with burnout. They have lost their mojo and want to get it back.
I personally relate to this. I used to live in boom and bust cycles of activity. I would perform, achieve, and strive until I became exhausted, sick and depressed. Then I would crash and nurse myself back to health until I was resourced enough to jump back into another cycle of productivity.
The problem was not the boom and bust nature of my performance, although I do enjoy more smooth energy flow, better health, and overall better mood now. The challenge was that my productivity was fueled by fear and insecurity. I was striving and achieving to try and prove my value. I felt like my self-worth was contingent on my performance and my success. When I was successful I felt good because I felt worthy for a moment until that wore off and then I had to be on to the next thing. When I was not successful in my eyes, meaning I made a mistake, or did a good job, but didn’t knock it out of the park, or I wasn’t exceptional or the best, I felt worthless. I was constantly trying and prove my worth to myself.
The upside of being fueled by insecurity is that I got a lot done. When I left my leadership position at the behavioral health company, one of their main concerns was who was going to make sure that things were implemented and executed. In other jobs, it was not uncommon when I left for two people to replace me. This wasn’t something I noticed. In fact, I couldn’t see my strengths because I felt like nothing I did was good enough.
That is the downside of being fueled by insecurity. No amount of achievement or success makes the insecurity go away. And all the while insecurity was driving my behavior, I was living in the physiology of fear. My system was flooded with stress hormones and neurochemicals. It was mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. Even though things got done, I couldn’t be at my peak performance. I was running myself into the ground. The price I paid was my health and wellbeing. This impacted every area of my life and nearly destroyed my marriage.
What I didn’t understand was that my self-worth was not contingent on anything. I didn’t realize it couldn’t be taken away from me, nor could it grow. I felt that way because I didn’t experience my self-worth as a constant. I experienced it as fluctuating. I didn’t know that it wasn’t my self-worth that was fluctuating. It was my ability to experience it based on how stirred up my thinking was at any given moment that went up and down. I thought it was my self-worth that was changing rather than my thinking, and it felt to me that there were things I could do to make my self-worth grow and things I could do that would make my self-worth shrink. Now, I remember more often when I am feeling insecure that it is a temporary state that has nothing to do with my worth or who I am.
What helped me was seeing that suffering is normal. This might sound nihilistic, but seeing this filled me with such relief that I felt bliss. I automatically dropped all of the judgments I had been holding against myself that I was not good enough because I felt insecure, and I stopped reacting to my feelings insecurity. This is how I stopped using it as fuel for my doing. Instead, I felt the truth of my insecurity being a temporary experience that would pass on its own as my thinking naturally stabilized. This is what helps me to not be driven by insecurity. I still have feelings of insecurity, but I rarely use them as fuel to drive my behavior. This was freedom to me. It was life-changing. I never wanted to go back to using insecurity as fuel again.
In contrast to what I thought would happen, when I stopped using insecurity as my fuel, I was able to experience the infinite well of inspiration that is my true nature. I got to experience a fuel that was uplifting, creative and fulfilling. It was not a fuel that would tear down my system. It was a fuel that built me up. It was regenerative and healing. I had no idea previously that this kind of fuel was available to me! When I created using this fuel, it was easy. Effort was expended, but it felt effortless. It filled me up rather than depleted me. I loved this new fuel and still do. It is infinite and 100% reliable. Why use insecurity with all of its negative side effects when I have this infinite resource within myself.
All that it required was for me to see that my worth is not contingent on anything. In fact, self-worth became a non-issue for me. Rather than noticing I felt worthy, I just stopped feeling unworthy. When this happened I was not self-absorbed or concerned about feeling worthy. Instead, I felt freedom. The freedom of just being me with all of my neuroses, insecurities, and annoying personality traits as well as my strengths and characteristics I liked. There was nothing to prove, nothing to fix. And in my imperfection, I still filled up with wellbeing.
After this experience and realization, I did have some downtime. I left my executive position and rather than launching full tilt into my business I was inspired to relax and take it easy. I did what was needed, but I didn’t add anything to my plate. The beauty of the fuel of inspiration is that it has wisdom that guides you where to go. It knew I needed to rest and replenish. That was what I was inspired to do far longer than I imagined. Then my inspiration guided me differently.
What fuel are you using? If you want to experiment with listening to your inspiration and engaging with no attachment to outcome, join Barb and me in our 30-day experiment starting April 2nd. There is nothing better than dropping into the present moment and engaging in life!
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a psychotherapist, a transformative coach, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com. Rohini is also co-facilitating The 30-day Engaged Space Experiment for $79 with Barb Patterson starting April 2nd. For more information and to join the fun click here.