I thought a BIG career would save me. If I could just break through and make the salary that was waiting for me on the other side then I could exhale. I thought six pack abs would also save me. I would run and lift and eat chicken breast after chicken breast knowing that the results of all this work would really mean something. I thought a boyfriend would save me. I went on date after date after date waiting for the right guy to rescue me from this nauseating social pattern. But no matter how successful I got, no matter how good I looked, and no matter how much he adored me ... I still felt like something was missing.
Truth is, I didn't need to be saved, except maybe from my thinking - and I was the only one that can save me from that. It wasn't until I accepted that no achievement, purchasable item, or accolade was going to increase my value that I began to feel at peace. As cliche as this might sound, the only way I am going to feel free is by turning within. When I started asking the question, "What is fueling my ambition?" I began to understand that I was operating from a feeling of unworthiness. I thought by achieving success and accumulating a bunch of stuff I could prove to the world that I deserved respect, adoration, and love.
A few years ago I tried an experiment. Instead of letting all my goals be solely focused on career milestones, I dedicated most of my focus to spiritual and emotional qualities that I aspired to embody. First, I became willing to feel good, even without something in the world to validate the emotion.
Ex: I am willing to feel successful now. I am willing to feel content now.
At first my inner-critic went nuts. I found every reason to prove that I was being ridiculous and this was just some wacky way to feel better. (And it was.) However, the more I committed myself to loving practices that focused on spiritual truth, the more I began to experience peace and joy ... for no other reason than I deserved to feel peaceful and joyful.
If I read this ten years ago, I'd probably think the writer of this article was trying to justify living in mediocrity. That's not the point at all. The invitation is to consider that there just might be nothing broken, bad, or unworthy about you. You have every right to pursue anything that feels like it would be fun, exciting, and interesting. There's nothing wrong with having a big career, loads of money, and nice things; I enjoy all those things. The difference for me today is, I'm not attached to the stuff and I don't expect it to validate me. If my success disappeared tomorrow, would that mean I lose the right to feel at peace? I think not. My peace comes from an awareness of my spiritual nature and the willingness to allow that nature to be present in all I do.
Jesse Brune-Horan is a Spiritual teacher and happy living expert. He's the co-founder & Spiritual director of Inspire Spiritual Community, a non-profit organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. He's the host of the podcast "LGBTQ+ and Spiritual", and co-host of the lifestyle series "Super Easy with Jesse and Alison." He lives and Loves in Los Angeles with his husband Christopher and their family.