I remember thinking during my mid-teens that there was something unique in me, an evil self-centred imposteur, a self-absorbed ‘dark side’ which I could hide extremely well in public but which secretly expressed itself in the private corners of my mind. I kept confidential this shameful secret that I was not the “good guy” that everyone seemed to know and interact with, but I was in fact this twisted narcissistic version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide.
That’s how I saw myself at some point in my teenage years and boy did I do some philosophical enquiry to try and figure out if I was indeed Evil or Good! To this day I am still enquiring and researching, but the perspective I have now is much more helpful than it was at the time. The understanding I have come to is that like anyone, I have a part of selfishness and self-interest in me as well as some genuine selflessness and care for others. There is nothing ‘evil’ or wrong about this, it simply is human nature. But the exploration of my old beliefs around my alleged “secret dark and bad nature” led me to another fascinating discovery.
The human mind has a way of making itself feel like a special snowflake, like if there is something really different between us and other human beings. And it usually is – but not always – not a pretty difference. We human beings are experts at making ourselves certain that for some reason, our lot is worse than X, or not as good as X. And because of this special nature of ‘us’, we convince ourselves, like the most skilled hypnotist, that whatever we witness, see and learn about the world, the human condition, success, happiness, love, money etc, will not apply to us.
When in fact, there is nothing special about me and there is nothing special about you when it comes to all these things. There is nothing special that have your fears, judgements, insecurities and thoughts function fundamentally differently than they do in other human beings. There is nothing special about you that have you not be able to tap more into your potential, access more freedom or live a more fulfilling life.
I will admit: you do have some things unique and special about you, for example your fingerprints or DNA. Your brain might look slightly different to mine, and your voice will sound different, and the language you use will be different, etc. But when I say: “there is nothing special about you”, I mean there is no special curse, lack of capacity or ability, or any missing piece in your skull that is responsible for having you not thrive and be a creator in your own life. You have everything you need. You may need to unlock a few resources, fair enough. These resources may take a different form to someone else’s resources, fair enough. But nothing is “missing”. It’s there, inside, available, like it is for everyone else.
How many times in your life have we used the words: “Yes, but…” when presented with a novel idea to create the results we wanted? How many times have we thought: “this is all great and wonderful, but it won’t apply to me because…”? How many times have we replied to a friend: “I understand that it works for some people, but in my case…”?
“Yes, but” is not a useful construct of language. It is not serving any of us. Think about it. When you say “Yes, but”, not only are you effectively cancelling what you just said “yes” to, making your agreement both illusory and – let’s not be afraid of words – totally useless, but you are also reinforcing your view that somehow you are right, and by doing so you lock yourself a little bit more inside your psychological prison. In many cases the “Yes, but” construct is not too bad, or at least not a big deal. It often is used in a debate of ideas that don’t impact you or your life directly. But in the area of personal fulfilment and professional performance, this is a big deal. Because what I have seen most of us do is use this “Yes, but” to justify how we are somehow the anti-hero of a special situation which makes whatever good idea or new option presented previously not applicable in our case.
This means that by thinking we are somehow a special snowflake, we restrict our possibilities and rule ourselves out. We fence ourselves off from the flow life, instead of opening our mind and horizon to something new, different, possible.
If someone else has done what you imagine doing, or is living what you dream of living, then it’s probably a useful idea to choose to believe that you can do it too and that you are no different to them, rather than make up that there is something special about you that will have you fail or not create what you desire.
It sure seems to yield better results. Try it sometime.