WARNING – this is a post with many issues – BIG baggage – and not so well tied together thinking. If you would like to wade into fear, inadequacy, imaginary friends and motivation, read on. If you are looking for clarity, head elsewhere…
A friend recently shared a famous quote from Marianne Williamson with me. It is as follows:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I love this quote. I want to believe it. I wish it rang true. Perhaps I don’t get it, but I think it might be horse dooky. I am not afraid of success. I can assure you, I am afraid of failure. I am also afraid that to be successful, I have to maintain a horrible wretched mean nasty catalyst of motivation. So many issues, so little time…
When I was a kid I had two imaginary friends, Sarna and Arks. Sarna was a little girl and Arks was a lion. I had a pet lion. Sarna and Arks were wonderful friends, they were fun, took orders from me and always let me win.
I still have an imaginary thing around me, but it’s not so nice. It is my gremlin. That nasty green monster that tags along with me and occassionally becomes very vocal. It says things like "You suck!" "You are a moron!" "How could you be so stupid!" "You never were that smart."
Nice, right? I wish I could bring Sarna and Arks back around but I would look like a crazy person talking to them on the street. Instead, I maintain a listening relationship with my gremlin. We actually don’t talk – HE talks, I listen. Pity, right?
The really horrible thing is that as much as I don’t like the gremlin (he really needs a name – submissions welcome), I keep him around. I don’t try to banish him or even ignore him. I nuture and feed him. Why on earth would I do that? Because he motivates me. Pity again, right?
I like to think that generally I am a positive person, all gremlin-loving evidence to the contrary. But I am also a realist. I believe in being realistic, embracing reality. I do not ascribe to the notion that positive thinking conquers all. It might make me Pollyanna-like and chipper (not so bad) but I do not believe people can be anything they want. I believe that you can TRY to be anything you want, but trying and positive thinking are no guarantee for success. Let’s face it, all of the positive thinking in the world is not going to get me into size 4 pants. I could be self-delusional about it (endless buckets of positive thinking) but that would ultimately leave me naked in the streets of Manhattan (not good). One must face reality, and unfortunately reality has constraints (like hips). So if nothing is guaranteed and even with all of the positive thinking in the world you may NEVER achieve your goal, the real question is, do you take that risk?
So here is my dilemma – I don’t really believe that anyone can be anything they set their mind to (down with positive thinking and DOWN with the quote!), and I feed and nurture an imaginary demon that yells hateful thoughts at me. Pretty fucked up, right? But I am afraid to starve the gremlin. What if I need that fear of failure and inadequacy as a source of motivation? Since I don’t fully ascribe to the you-can-be-anything-you-want theory of life, I need something else to move me along.
The gremlin yelling from the sidelines makes me run faster, and that is how I have historically won. I cannot possibly kill the gremlin.
This is my dilemma. Fear is a great motivator. It just happens to prey upon my self esteem and render me useless for hours on end at times, no biggie. Any suggestions? If only Sarna and Arks were around to offer pearls of wisdom.