I call it the void of the heart.
It’s a mental game that’s hard to get out of, one where we convince ourselves that we can never stop because we haven’t accomplished enough.
It works like this:
We attach our self-worth to accomplishment (usually connected to monetary results) ->
… That leads to us working hard to accomplish something ->
….. Naturally, we get tired, stressed, anxious and need rest after working so hard ->
……. But we convince ourselves to keep pushing, only resting if we burn out ->
……… Because we feel like we’re not worthy, not being content with what we’ve accomplished.
And the worst part about this is, it works like a downhill slope. The more we try to fix it, the harder we push because the lot of us use the thing that caused the problem in the first place to try and fix it (go figure, I’ve been guilty of this myself).
And so the harder we push, the more stressed, anxious, and unhealthy we become. It’s a damaging pattern of behavior and one that can literally kill us if we don’t do anything about it.
When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.
– Brene Brown
A few years back, I interviewed a few dozen people for a course I was creating on meditation.
It was all about how people have a hard time sticking to a consistent meditation practice, what I identified as the major pain point of most new and even seasoned meditators.
During those interviews, I discovered something interesting. See, these were your average people who were working hard but wrestling with the stress and anxiety that comes from an unhealthy lifestyle because of working so hard like we talked about a moment ago. I identify closely with this because that was exactly me up until I discovered meditation in my own life.
What I found was that they would tell themselves they weren’t worthy of stopping. They’d beat themselves up and tell themselves that they hadn’t “earned” the right to stop and rest (I had to prod this out, many of them didn’t realize this was why). Looking back, I realized that I was the exact same way. It was then that I realized how widespread this dangerous mindset had become.
The problem is, we believe we’re not worthy to stop. So, we continue to work and push ourselves, attempting to get to a point where we feel confident and whole within ourselves before we allow ourselves to rest even for a moment. So, we continue on until the stress gets so bad that it even affects our physical health (sometimes even seemingly leading to death, which I’ve seen first-hand in family).
It works like a kind of deathly cycle, repeating itself over and over until we realize that what we’re looking for isn’t outside of us at all.
What to do about it
Know that you’re already worthy just as you are. What makes you worthy is something that’s been inside of you since you were born, not something outside in the world that you need to acquire.
We make this same mistake in relationships. This is the void in our heart. It’s where the phrase, “you complete me”, comes from. We mistake this feeling that something is missing within us for the need to acquire something outside of ourselves and the way this manifests most commonly is in a search for someone to “complete” us.
We think that our partner will fill this void, and when they don’t, the relationship doesn’t work out. It’s no surprise, then, that the most successful relationships are the ones where each person enters without this condition, confident in themselves and connected to their self-worth.
Look around you and see how others seek to express this. See that what we often call a “journey of the soul” is really just a journey that eventually leads back to ourselves once we realize that what we’re looking for was never out there to begin with.
Many of the world’s most wildly successful people are empty emotionally and spiritually, so don’t think that material wealth will solve this either. This is an equation that isn’t solved by accomplishment or triumph either, although personal accomplishment can be healthy if it builds our confidence and belief in ourselves.
Whatever you do, don’t go on living thinking that you’re not good enough, that you need to do or acquire something first before you can be happy.
You have everything you need within you right now and any great goal or dream you have should be pursued for the love and passion you have for it, not to fill some imaginary void. Do this and you’ve broken the cycle for good.