This post is from my recent contribution to the “Shrink Rap” newsletter by Steven Kotler‘s latest endeavor, the Flow Research Collective. If you’re at all interested in human performance, I highly recommend that you go check it out.
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I’m here because I’m in the business of helping people make change.
You’re here because you want to become a better version of yourself.
You want more possibilities in your life. You want to realize your potential. You’ve listened to podcasts, read blog posts, and maybe even bought some books, all in your search to level up. Am I right?
So, what’s the secret?
What do other people do? How do they make their lives fuller, bigger, and better?
The ugly hard truth is, there are no secrets.
Instead, there is a cycle to all of this success… and failure. The part of the cycle that people often don’t want to face is the part that feels hard. The struggle. The suck.
But you can’t skip it, minimize it, or hack it. You’ve got to go through it. There are no shortcuts to accomplish this work. There are no supplements to get where you want to go. You’ve got to sit still long enough to figure out what it is that you are trying to avoid and face that beast.
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may be thinking, “Wait, she wants me to sit still… again? I don’t want to sit still. I want to make shit happen.”
But that’s exactly why you need this particular dose of medicine.
Most of us keep moving, our thoughts keep chattering, and our feelings keep beating because we are trying to avoid whatever it is that we fear the most. That’s how we’re programmed. But years of research and experience have proven the same thing time and again:
If you want to succeed over your fears, you’ve got to face them.
And the only way to do that is to slow down long enough to realize what they are so you can look those monsters in the eye and tell them to sit down, calm down, and shut up.
So here’s an activity for you…
Clear time in your calendar to sit and write your own eulogy. If you can, write this one by hand, don’t type it.
Get a clean sheet of paper and free write. Don’t edit or check your work. Grammar and punctuation don’t matter here. No one’s going to grade you. You are trying to create a sense of momentum, just by letting the words pour out of you. Can you notice where the feelings start to show up?
What did you feel when you read the assignment?
Are you getting sad? Are you feeling anxious or angry? Where does it get hard for you to stay present in the task?
In our normal everyday world, we avoid contemplating our own death. What happens when you face that fear and really look at it? Sit next to it? Engage with it? This will likely feel difficult, but that’s the point. You’re doing this to unearth those shut away, closed off feelings. You want to access those feelings so that you can use them for fuel, to point you in the direction that you want to go.
After you are done with your writing, don’t re-read your entry. Put it away for a few days and designate a specific time to go back and re-read your eulogy, if you wish. See what themes have emerged and what crevices have made themselves known. What feelings arise this time? Are they the same or different than what you noticed the first time around? This how you’re going to know where to look, and where to point your attention. That’s how you are going to befriend your fear and learn to use it to fuel your momentum.
Let me know how it goes and what you’ve discovered.