After all the great religions have been preached and expounded, man is still confronted with the Great Mystery — Luther Standing Bear
The second Mastermind for Solopreneurs that Barb Patterson and I co-facilitate is coming to completion next week. One of the themes we explored in the program is getting comfortable in the unknown. I catch myself at times thinking “I” (meaning my intellect/ego) am running my life. This, of course, includes my business. However, the magic happens when I see the bigger picture and recognize that life is really powered by a source much greater than me. It is so much more fun to live in the mystery of that and see what emerges from there. This is not a passive stance. I can fully engage with life while also recognizing I am not in control.
Every time I write it is abundantly clear to me that I am stepping into the unknown. I am curious to see what emerges into the world of form. Writing is an obvious creative act where from nothing comes something, but this is not restricted to writing and other artistic endeavors. All of life is a creative act. We are creating in each moment as the formless energy behind life expresses itself in the world of form through our thoughts and actions. We are all creators, but we don’t always remember this.
That is one of the reasons I love coaching, teaching and writing. In each of these activities it is clear to me that the best results come from me stepping into the unknown, doing my best to forget everything I know, and being present in the moment. What emerges from there is synergy, co-creativity, and new. Something that never existed before is now in the world of form. And when I can live this way in general it is exhilarating and inspiring. There is an effortlessness and lightness of being that is so much fun.
I was not always this way. I come from an approach to living life based on hard work. I am good at working hard. I like results, and I am willing to work for them. But, my perspective was limited. I thought it was only through my effort that I got results. And where all of that hard work got me was burnt out. My pattern was to push really hard, collapse, recover, and then push really hard again with the cycle repeating itself.
My burnout, however, was not caused by my effort expended. It was caused by my emotional angst. I was using effort as a way to try and conquer the unknown. I wanted certainty, and in my mind, I could work my way into safety and security. Effort gave me the illusion of control. The cost was my physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The price may seem dear, but this is just an indicator of how much I wanted to feel in control. The illusion was priceless.
The last time I experienced this cycle of burnout was while I was on the leadership team of a behavioral health company. I worked for them 3/4 time and on building my practice the rest of the time. I was exhausted. I thought it was because of what I was doing. I rationalized my fatigue and normalized it. I was a mother of young children, a leader in a company, a fledgling solopreneur — of course was tired! But, none of these circumstances caused my burnout. It was my own pressure. Even though there was no need for it, I could not stop myself. It was an addiction. I thought if I kept driving myself to do more that this would make me be more.
I had been this way since grade school. At some point, I made up that my self-worth and security lie in the certainty of my effort. A’s became my god, perfection was my goal, and effort was my sacrifice.
When I look back, I see how scared I was. I was terrified of the unknown. It looked to me like if I kept moving I could outrun my fear. Experiencing the mystery behind life did not look like something I wanted to catch up with me. I saw it as an empty void that would consume and annihilate me.
Fortunately, I was able to stop running before my body gave out. What helped me to jump off the treadmill of perfectionism was a new thought. It was such a fresh perspective that it stopped me in my tracks. I saw for myself the folly of what I was seeking. All of my hard work made sense if there was somewhere to go. None of it made sense if I had already arrived. What I saw is there was nowhere to go. Nothing exists other than the perfection of this moment. My effort looked ridiculous from this perspective. It was as if I had been on a theme park ride frantically working all of the controls and having the experience of moving myself all over the place, when really I was just sitting in a simulation machine with everything happened around me.
All my effort was to get me to the land of worthiness. I saw this land does not exist. There is no future time or place that I will feel good enough. All that exists is now. I saw my experiences of worthiness and unworthiness were made up. They were not real. My efforts were chasing a mirage that would disappear as soon as I got to there, and the next level of what I thought I needed to have or do in order to be good enough would appear.
As soon as I saw, I am, and that is enough, I became more comfortable with the unknown. I let go of the reigns of control that weren’t attached to anything other than my ego’s image of self-importance. I relaxed into being nobody: no-thing. I experienced the freedom of my formless nature and felt the safety and security I had been looking for all along. Not the kind of safety based on everything always working out according to my preferences. The deeper safety of knowing I am okay no matter how things turn out. The safety of knowing I don’t need the illusion of control because I am okay.
Seeing this I realized I had actually been good at living in the unknown in many areas of my life already. In working with clients, and relationships in general, I would naturally drop into the not knowing and see what emerged from there.However, when it came to business, I had a lot more insecure thoughts. It was new to me to see making money as a creative act. This might sound like common sense, but I thought money came from effort rather than inspiration. Then I saw that business and money are just like everything else. They come from nothing too. There are no exceptions.
There is nothing to be afraid of in the unknown. It is the source of all potential. Everything is the result of the formless energy behind life coming into form. I do not consciously control that, and I cannot work at that. It is a principle that does not need my personal effort. Once something is in form, I can play with it, but I am no longer under the delusion that I am making it.
Now I know there is nowhere to go, I don’t need to push myself. This is it!
Letting go of pressure and embracing what is — however it is, makes life more fun. The effort I expend does not exhaust me. I may still do too much at times and get tired, but I do not feel burnt out. I no longer have the weight of creation on my shoulders. Creativity is commonplace, and constantly happening through me. Just like the waves keep crashing into the shore. I don’t make the waves, but I can enjoy surfing.
It feels natural to engage with life and embrace the richness of it. I don’t need to work at that. Simply by looking in the direction of the mystery I open to the infinite potential of who I am. This makes the ride of human experience more graceful.
I encourage you to look at where you see you have already arrived. Where are you comfortable? When are the times you feel relaxed being you? Now can you see how this is true for every area of your life?
We don’t just create our experience from the inside out — we create reality that way as well. As Anais Nin states, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” Getting comfortable in the unknown allows us to open to the unlimited possibilities of the creative potential of who we are. This makes it easy to engage with life and play full out — for the joy of it!
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.