Are You Clear About What You’re Doing and Why?
“And so castles made of sand, fall into the sea… eventually.”- Jimi Hendrix
Much of the cause of anxiety in the world today has to do with what I would call people building the castles of their life on sand. In other words, people feverishly work, trying to gain something, earn something, accomplish some feat or beat out a competitor, but they are doing so misguidedly, for that person doesn’t has not yet built a solid foundation or set of reasons for WHY they need to be doing what they are doing. This person is like a rat running on a wheel–without an endgame or destination. The harder the rat works, the more life is drained from it, without ever truly accomplishing anything. You may be thinking that as humans, we are different and should not be likened to a rodent. I would suggest that we are not that dissimilar. The rodent has no long-term goals. Neither do most people. They both are focused too heavily on the near term. Both of them are building a life, a castle on sand.
While the comparison to the rat running on the wheel and the average person working away without a goal may seem harsh, my point is that too many people lack the strong enough reasons to know why they are doing what they are doing. The worst part is that many know it unconsciously. Stress, anxiety, fear, depression are all rooted in the belief that “I won’t be loved unless… Or, I won’t be enough unless…” fill in the blank. Clarity is what leads us to the fulfillment of our potential and therefore a fulfilling life. Perhaps understanding this will become clear through the following examples:
-The man or woman who works all day long trying to earn a living while ignoring the family he or she has a family at home is building a castle on sand that will crumble eventually. Why does he work so hard? “So he can provide for his family, of course”, you may say. To which I would say, “And then what?” Does he have a plan to escape the rat race? Does the family wish him to work and be away so often? Perhaps they would much prefer him being present at home. Which begs the question, if the man or woman isn’t fulfilling the wishes of his family by grinding away at the millstone, why does he keep going without an endgame in mind? Should he keep working so hard when he is at risk of losing his family? The accumulation of wealth should only be done so that more free time is afforded to you. Acquiring money for its own sake without stronger reasons behind why you doing it is the equivalent of the rat running on the wheel. Working hard is a virtue but not without knowing why you are putting in the work.
-The person who desires material riches to impress others is building a castle made of sand. Let me be clear, the desire for material possessions and financial security is not a vice, if it is done for the right reasons (a strong enough foundation). Opulence can be used as a tool if it helps remind your ego that it can live in a world of abundance rather than scarcity. It’s important to know that one doesn’t have to struggle and can in fact thrive if desired. I have many “anchors” that I use to remind me to think larger and more clearly. I have one nice car. I have some fine watches. I have a couple nice suits– all of which serve to remind me that I can accomplish whatever I desire if I do it for the right reasons. But none of those possessions serve to “impress” others. The salesman who thinks that going into debt on fine clothes and cars will make him a better salesman is dead wrong, for he is acquiring possessions for the wrong reasons. Charisma and believing in your product makes for an incredible salesperson. Flashy clothes without the other only makes one untrustworthy, for the prospect will know his reasons for selling are shallow and the salesperson does not have the best interest of others in mind.
-The desire to become famous without worthy reasons as to why will only cause a lack of tranquility and a life of anxiety. It has become nearly impossible to wake up and go through the day without seeing a news story about a celebrity who overdosed on drugs, is in rehab, engaged in some scandal or acting in some inappropriate way in view of the public. You would think such stories of distressed lives would dissuade people from trying to become famous, but in our age of television, internet and social media, more people than ever are, I dare say obsessed with becoming a celebrity. The problem, as we have seen with the other examples, is that engaging or pursuing anything without strong enough reasons as to why you are doing it will result in stress, anxiety and fear. Humans were not meant to be famous, however, we were also not meant to fly or travel under the sea. The beautiful thing about being human is we get to decide what we want to do, but I would warn that you must figure out WHY first. Being famous is not a problem is your goal is to help and inspire millions of others. The only way to do that is to be well known. In fact, I would suggest that for most businesses and people obscurity is actually the enemy. A person or business should WANT to be well known, but only because they believe they can help others. Having solid reasons for doing something will keep you from building a life made of sand.
The only way to limit the anxiety and fear in your life is to have worthwhile goals and take massive actions towards reaching those goals. I believe if people know that they are working towards their goals, they will be fulfilling their potential as humans. Without this, the subconscious mind will serve up anxiety and fear as a warning that we are wasting our lives. However, just like happiness and fulfillment, fear and anxiety can be useful tools for us to discover our flaws and redirect our efforts. I love the following quote from Rollo May:
“But attempts to evade anxiety are not only doomed to failure. In running from anxiety you lose your most precious opportunities for the emergence of yourself, and for your education as s human being.” –Rollo May
If you are experiencing anxiety and fear on a regular basis, don’t let them destroy you, but also don’t run from these emotions. Embrace them, for your subconscious mind is trying to tell you something. Use them as an opportunity to examine where in your life you may be building castles of sand. For castles made of sand will surely fall into the sea, eventually.