Step away from the guilt

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I stumbled upon this quote from The Alchemist , one of my favourite books by Paulo Coelho:

“The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcome, all the suffering we endured, all the thing we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal when it was only a step away.”

While I haven’t stopped myself from doing something because I felt I didn’t deserve it, I have stopped myself from doing stuff that meant a lot to me. I was afraid if I tried and people said I sucked at it, then my sense of self and self-worth would be shattered.  I also didn’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have this thing, so by keeping it to myself, nobody could take it away from me by telling me I was no good at it. I know that sounds a bit cryptic, but the details aren’t important. What’s important is I had to take the risk of failure in order to get what I wanted.

The tool that helped me get through this was Robert Dilt’s Logical Levels*. I was holding on to the belief that what I do is who I am. In other words, my identity was bound up in what I did for a living. That caused me no end of angst! But the Logical Levels helped me get through it.

The Logical Levels break down like this:

Mission & Vision 
Where are you going with your life? With which people?  Which activities and places are central to this vision for your life/future – and, perhaps, the contribution you intend to make to the world.

Identity 
The self-esteem level. Your sense of self, what you identify with, etc. This can include identifying with your job, marriage, religion, etc. it can also include how you interpret events in terms of your own self-worth.

Beliefs & Values
Whether you believe something is possible or impossible, whether you believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not you feel motivated about it. How your personal Values support or hinder you.

Capability & Skills 
These are your ‘internal behaviours’. The level of innate capabilities and learned skills which you have for dealing with life situations – and how effectively you use these.

Behaviour 
Your actions – externally observable behaviours, posture, movements, etc. including what an observer would see or hear or feel when you are engaged in a particular activity.

Environment 
Your surroundings: the people and places etc that you are interacting with, and responding to, when you are engaged in a particular activity.

If you find yourself mentally stuck, this is a great model to use to get yourself unstuck. It works by helping you figure out which of the subsystems of your brain structure are holding you back. Hear Robert Dilts explain it.


*The notion of logical levels refers to the fact that some processes and phenomena are created by the relationships between other processes and phenomena. Any system of activity is a subsystem embedded inside of another system, which is embedded inside of another system, and so on. This kind of relationship between systems produces different levels of processes, relative to the system in which one is operating. Our brain structure, language, and social systems form natural hierarchies or levels of processes. Link


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