(This piece has been adapted and excerpted from my book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (Tarcher/Perigree-Randhomhouse)
Is there something you need to act on in your life?
I have coaching clients that ask me to “kick them in the butt,” twist their arms, stick dynamite into their voodoo dolls, and make them do things they don’t want to do. But I’m not a fan of sadism. I already worked as a high-powered lawyer in a corporate law firm once, thank you very much. Now, I prefer grace. I’m of the mind that sometimes you don’t want to do something, because deep in the big sky of your being, you know there’s another way, an original suggestion summoning up, or simply another day. I have no need to micromanage the infinite resourcefulness of my clients. Still, they insist that they’re just lazy, and if only they could be jack-hammered into shape-- as in have their spirit broken-- they’d be inspired. Yes, of course.
I’ve been down that twisted road myself. Here’s a glimpse from the notebook of an anguished past:
“How hard could it be, to pick up a freaking phone and make the call I need to make? Anyone else on the planet could do this. But for me, cold calling this organization feels like taking off my clothes in slow motion, in front of my entire junior high class, on some bad contest-type reality television show, like ‘What Thighs Not to Have.’ It’s so not what I love. And for once, I’m willing to consider that just maybe it isn’t because I’m catastrophically timid or inadequate at a cellular level.
I believe that I’m following a sacred evolutionary promise inside me, a knowing that I will be drawn to act when it’s my right time. A lioness rests until she picks up the scent of prey and then lunges. There is no lag time. She doesn’t take one breath that instinct doesn’t impel. And I’m guessing she doesn’t take down a gazelle just to shut up her inner critic.
The phone call is what I ‘should do.’ It makes sense to my linear mind, but I am not restricted to the tired spectrum of a solely linear world. I am walking a jeweled, soul-awakening path and I need to allow my approach to emerge from my guidance rather than my insistence.” I talked myself into freedom then, and I’d love to liberate you now.
I want you to release yourself from unnecessary pain. Following what you “should do” is an impoverished choice on a path that is original, inspired, and inevitable. A “should” is someone else’s strategy in your head. It’s a rational commentary. Yet it’s not an intuition or directive, an ancient gate swinging open, a holy magnetism, or an advanced sequence falling into place. Your soul has its own astonishing itinerary. What do you have energy to do? That’s the stick of dynamite in this equation. Everything else is distraction. Yes, distraction.
No one taps their deepest gifts through shame, guilt or anger.
In fact, if you come from obligation, others smell the sadness in your blood and they will run the other way. Of course, if they’re of the damaged variety, they may, momentarily, want to marry you, but then you should run the other way.
You may have to practice having faith in yourself. Believe it or not, without that insane inner task master, a tyrant who will never be satisfied by the way, you will not just eat Ding Dongs and read about the pets of celebrities all day. Yes, you may start there. But if you stop judging yourself, let go of the hate and resistance that feeds the behavior, you’ll start uncovering an expansive, conscientious, and inspired self. You are more determined, balanced, and brilliant than you know.
Years ago, I came to see that self-acceptance did not lead to self-indulgence but to strength and self-reliance. In my early twenties I was an anorexic, who would binge-eat and then deliberately starve. I felt I could never trust myself around food. Well, because I couldn’t. I admitted to my therapist one day that I secretly longed to eat coffee ice cream all day. “Would you eat ice cream all day?” she asked. “Of course,” I said, “that’s why I have to stay in control.” She looked at me with burning brown eyes and said, “What if you let yourself eat ice cream all day and didn’t judge it?” Let’s see, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t leave my bed and within weeks, I would most likely resemble a gorilla in a camisole. But something told me we were going somewhere else.
So I followed her suggestion and imagined eating ice cream all day with no mean words thought or said. That was some killer therapy right there. But after a moment of continuously eating ice cream in my mind, I had a radical new answer to her question. “Then I’d get bored and eat regular food like broccoli or kale,” I laughed. My therapist beamed as though she had seen Glenda the Good Witch sit right down beside me and offer her a high five. The revelation lit the room like sunlight. I began to cry. I wanted health. I really did want health. I really would eat broccoli. My own appropriate instincts had always been there waiting for me like soft yellow tulips beneath a winter snow. But I had been crushing them for years with suspicion and control.
Your built-in success plan begins with open-minded honesty. Listen to what feels right, without judgment, right now. You know your own next step, even if it feels uncomfortable because it’s comfortable.
I want you to know that listening to your heart isn’t a gentle, sweet thing to do. It’s the razor’s edge.
It’s the gateway to quantum energy, a direct line to the technical and strategic support of a Dazzling Presence that flows more effectively without the constriction of fear. Why insist on taking an action that doesn’t feel right? You were designed to follow your instincts, not to abort them. Why limit a dynamic, multi-dimensional intelligence to the conditioning that created the life you want to change? And why, dear Grasshopper, act from fear when you can act with love? There are infinite ways to get what you need and infinite needs you have yet to discover.
When I first published my book This Time I Dance! I refused to call the organizations of popular authors to get raving testimonials for the book’s back cover. Some of my friends politely suggested that I might not be getting enough iron in my diet or oxygen to my brain. Still others, tried to coach me into visualizing success, seeing myself speaking to the authors’ assistants and asking for what I needed with unruffled blood pressure. They surrounded me in white light, called on astral master minds, advocates, and arch angels, and told me everything would gush with true perfection.
But I’m guessing that white light was on the blink that day or one of the arch angels had a bad case of acid reflux, because when my friends took off, I still felt nothing but dread. I wouldn’t do it. I just knew that I could never sing an aria with an anchor in my stomach and seaweed in my mouth—and that there had to be another way for me to make it. There was.
I got fantastic endorsements for the book. Some of my students and fans pursued authors for me. Then I met an internationally famous author at a local book signing, and she generously called me back the next day with a testimonial. Then my favorite: I bought a latte from a young barista at a coffee shop in Denver, who “just happened to recall” that her East Coast college advisor wrote a bestselling book on careers. She emailed him and I had my endorsement within days. I hadn’t picked up the phone. I’d picked up a latte. Now, if that doesn’t speak to intelligent life in the Universe I don’t know what does.
Pay attention to how you feel before you take action. Is a bully shoving you around or is your inner advocate encouraging you to show up? Move with your heart, not your head. Face fear when you feel ready, not when you feel guilty. It’s time to leave the emotional baseball bat behind in the evolutionary Dark Ages, and step into the new dawn of trusting yourself and the power of your calling. You want what comes naturally to you because it’s better than anything else.