Some years ago when I was running my Yoga business, there was a strong desire and purpose to write articles. The driving force being that I wanted to share what I had learned and bring it forth to a greater audience. Before I started with my business, I always enjoyed sharing ideas and pushing thought beyond the boundaries of where it existed previously. As I started writing about the truths and patterns that I found inspiring in the world, it became apparent to me that I had a colorful way of articulating words in written format.
I took this talent and desire to create a monthly newsletter for the people I had engaged with. Every time I taught a class, gave a workshop or had a phenomenal conversation with a stranger, I would hand them a clipboard to fill out their name and email if they wanted to be added to my distribution list.
In a matter of 2 months, I had 200 individuals signed up and excited about receiving updates from me. I thought to myself “Yes! This is wonderful! I am getting a great response.”
Thinking that was the first mistake amongst many that led to the downfall of my newsletter. You see, when I had that inner dialogue with myself full of kudos for adding all these folks on my list, it wasn’t coming from a place of gratitude or appreciation. Rather, it emerged from a place of neediness. The number of people on my list was my benchmark that made me feel secure about myself. It was the gauge and basis for what I defined as success. I so wanted to fill that internal void with what others had to say, as I didn’t have much good to say about myself. During that point in my life, I relied on validation from others as a way to validate myself. The only way for me to convince myself that I was on the right track was to hear it from others. Even though I was saying one thing, the true message behind these words was, “People think I am great and therefore I am happy!”
Making my happiness conditional steered me on to a slippery trajectory. My newsletter ran well for a few months and I was receiving a fair amount of positive feedback and appreciation for the content that I was putting out. I took this as more validation for the work that I was doing and it was boosting my ego rather than it being a true recognition of my efforts.
At this stage in life, my ego was ferociously hungry for more of this validation and in many ways it fueled my desire to write more and put out more content because I knew I would receive the acknowledgment that I was seeking. Slowly with time, the external validation became my drug. I felt good in times when I received it and the lack of it made me feel crippled and doubtful of my own talents and abilities. When we start putting lower quality substances in our gas tank, pretty soon our vehicle breaks down. That’s exactly what happened to me.
One fine day I received this email reply to my newsletter from a woman who was on my distribution list:
“So nice to have heard from you these past weeks. But I'm finding that I just don't have the time to read the Newsletter and other posts I receive as my inbox fills up. Would you be so kind and remove me from your distribution list?”
When I look at this reply now, I remember staring blankly at the screen and feeling like a spark was lit and at any moment a huge firecracker was going to burst. This woman wrote a harmless note telling me she was just inundated with email. No big deal right? Tell that to the 2009 version of me.
When I finished reading that note many years ago, I was furious and devastated. My ego could not get a handle around the fact that somebody actually wanted to be removed from my list. My ego was conjuring up all sorts of silly scenarios and reading way more into it than it needed to be. It couldn’t believe that someone did not value the work I put forth. It couldn’t understand how someone could not like me as a human being and what I had to offer. And my mind went on and on and on into the realm of ridiculousness. Just like that, I had lost my Self to my egoic mind.
The mind is a fickle thing and mine took this simple email as a brutal act of betrayal. My ego wanted nothing more to do with the newsletter. In one quick swoop, all the motivation, drive and excitement to create valuable content came crashing down. My self esteem was a house of cards, delicately put together and vulnerable to the slightest breeze.
The result? I took a hiatus from writing and my newsletter had an untimely death. Not only that, it took me a year to regain my trust that I have something valuable to offer to people. I mention this example, because I’m at a significantly better place now.
So what is our greatest asset? I’ve learned from this experience that our greatest and most divine asset is “The opinion we have of our Self”
Guarding this opinion of our self must be at the forefront of our priorities. It must be a sacred piece of real estate in our mind that cannot be touched, affected nor influenced by any person, object or external situation. It’s no longer worth the effort nor the hassle to cater to the fluctuating opinions of those around us. In any given instant a person’s perspective about us can change, but it is up to us to simply brush off our shoulder and no longer give power to it.
Put the power in your hands. You determine your own self worth. When we give others a say on our value, it will only lead to the inevitable devaluation of our stock.
As I type these last few words, I am reminded that I am Divine, I am complete and I am right where I need to be.
Photo Credit: http://sacredecologyfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Sacred_Ecology_Nils_Udo_03.jpg