Sometimes I feel like an addict but instead of alcohol or substances, I’m addicted to exceeding expectations and external validation. However, there’s no 12-step program to take your life from people-pleasing super productive to true-self pleasing f*ck what everyone thinks. And that’s where the problem lies because for years I’ve been thinking my problems aren’t real problems.
When well-meaning people say things like “I don’t know how you do it all” or “you make it look so easy,” I get a dopamine hit to my ego. I internalize those expectations and I tell myself that I can’t let anyone down. Then I live this cycle of productivity and praise… which isn’t really a problem in our society!! We thrive on productivity and praise. This is not a “problem” that needs healing, or so I thought.
The problem comes in when I’ve spent a lifetime performing for others instead of living who I truly am inside. I can’t get over that my problems aren’t real problems. There’s nothing to “fix” when everything looks great on paper. And the better I perform and the more compliments I get, the more it makes me feel like I can’t complain about this nagging feeling inside of me.
I’ve noticed that whenever I feel off or overwhelmed, I remind myself that this is the life I wanted. This is what I worked so hard to create. I have nothing to complain about and no one wants to hear me complain about my mostly wonderful life anyway.
But is this what I really wanted? Or is this just what was expected of me? I don’t know if I can tell the difference right now.
Not long ago, I was living a life of stability, predictability and happiness. I had a career in the federal government, two healthy little children, a happy marriage, a house in the suburbs, and I was on cruise control towards retirement. The questions I was asking myself had to do with finding the right schools for the kids, positioning myself favorably at work, and deciding where to travel on our next vacation.
But in 2018, my fast track to the “perfect life” was derailed when I received my first reiki attunement and it opened up something long-suppressed. I realize now that my experience was not typical but it awakened my intuition and a deep sense of knowing that I could not dismiss. After a couple years of exploration and discovery, the question I’m asking myself now is:
Am I truly living my purpose?
The answer to this question is a resounding NO! because I’m scared to step away from my predictable life to pursue a different life of purpose and fulfillment.
I am living with a constant nagging… a pull to tap further into my intuition and flow with life. To trust that the opportunities will align and I can step into my life’s purpose. I want to believe (and I do at some level), but then I slip into my old habits because they feel familiar and I know what to expect.
This is what goes through my head: I can’t just quit my job and be a yoga teacher and wear jangly bracelets and chant on the full moon. I have responsibilities in the “real world.” I have a family to support. I have a mortgage to pay. I have to save for the kids’ college. I have to contribute to my IRA or else I’m doomed in retirement!
All these “I have to” statements are drowning me.
I am at the part of my healing journey where I know I need to slow down and take things off my plate. I know I need to spend more time tapping into my intuition and trusting the flow of life. I know my healing journey starts from within and I know the opportunity to align myself with my purpose in life is now. I know all this in my head but I am struggling to take awareness into behavioral change.
No matter how many times I tell myself that being true to my purpose in life will not disappoint anyone that knows me and loves me, it still terrifies me to my core. I am scared to disappoint others and scared to disappoint myself. Here lies my real problem.
I am working on quieting my negative reel and accepting that the expectations that I create for myself are much less forgiving than the expectations of others. I am setting boundaries to create space (little by little) for me to grow in alignment with my purpose and my true self. I know I was not meant to go through this alone and my hope is that something I share will resonate with you and help you move forward on your healing journey whether you think your problems are real or not.
P.S. If this story resonated with you, share it with me in the comment section below. Also, you can follow along with my related stories and try my favorite tools as I work through my personal growth journey...
Hi, I'm Ming-Wai and I fake it till I make it
I conformed to the culture of my office and I was happy to be trained and molded successfully. I was “making it” and successful–but at what cost?