|Posted by Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 at 3:45 AM|
Over the past month I've been updating my website with a few new headshots and banners that include the sentence "Create a Life You Love." The theme of creating a life you love has been my motto since I started blogging in 2010, and I've learned a lot from sharing my experiences and journey.
One of the main things I've learned is that, contrary to what you might think, creating a life you love isn't easy or pretty. Sure, I can put on some make-up and nice clothes and pose for pictures that make it look like I have my shit together. I can post these pictures all over my website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram so that people who don't know me will think that I have a polished professional image. I can try to emulate more popular self-help gurus like Danielle LaPorte and Gabrielle Berstein and Marie Forleo.
But the truth is that despite my semi-polished image around creating a life you love, I don't love my life 100% of the time. In fact, I spend a good deal of time buried in self-doubt. Here's an example of what my self-doubt sounds like:
"Ok seriously, WTF am I doing with my life? I'm 37 years old and I don't have a full-time job. I don't have a pension. I don't own a house or a car. I have no children. I live in a country that's thousands of miles away from most of the people I love, and I don't speak the language here. I spend most of my days doing research consulting work that's interesting, but not something that I want to do full-time. Plus my consulting work isn't financially stable because projects and funding can come and go on a dime. I spend the rest of my time doing things that most of society would consider unproductive, like walking in the park and writing blogs and growing herbs and cooking. What is my game plan here? Should I eventually move back to Canada? Should I buy property in Prague? Should I look for more stable work? What do I really want out of my career? Do I even have a career? Why haven't I taught any yoga classes or led any workshops here? Why haven't I worked on the book that I've been meaning to write for three years? Am I lazy? Depressed? What if my consulting work dries up? Why am I wasting my time walking in the park? Why am I wasting my time writing this blog? If I keep living like this I'm going to end up penniless and alone."
Even if your self-doubt has a slightly different tone, I'm sure you can relate to feeling like your life makes no sense and that you're going nowhere. Usually, if you follow these thoughts all the way to completion, they end with some sort of fear around being homeless or penniless or insane (or dead). Ultimately, we all fear the end of our existence.
Here's why I think these thoughts are particularly common when it comes to creating a life you love: because creating your best life isn't meant to be comfortable. Sure, there will be times when you're on cloud nine and things are going great. But there will also be times when you need to make tough choices that go against the grain of what society, your friends, your spouse, or your parents want you to do. And that will be hard.
Personally, my process of creating a life you love has forced me into some of the most difficult decisions I've ever made. It's pushed me into tough conversations. It's sent me so far outside of my comfort zone that I have trouble figuring out where my comfort zone is anymore. It's asked me to expand my boundaries beyond what I thought was possible. I've had to make decisions in my personal and professional life that I'd never dreamed of making.
Very little of it has been easy.
And to be honest, sometimes I get the urge to throw in the towel, move to a suburb outside of Toronto, get a steady job with a 2-hour commute and spend my free time watching the Kardashians. Sometimes I just want my life to be easy and boring and not require even one ounce of personal growth. I want to throw away my self-help books, stop meditating, eat a ton of processed food and perhaps slip into a sugar coma (which would thankfully save me from the Kardashians).
But something keeps driving me forward on this path of creating a life I love. And the kicker is that I already know the path has no end point. It's not like I'm going to wake up one day proclaiming "I did it! My life is perfect. I'm completely happy and no longer need to grow."
Which is why creating a life you love is about the journey.
I'm on a path, tracking the scent of my soul's desire. My soul (or true self) doesn't work in the linear ways of the modern world. My soul works in winding trails that sometimes take me into the deepest, darkest forests. My soul works in images and feelings and longings and dreams that don't always make sense to my logical mind. But when I follow my longings, my soul leads me on adventures of both bliss and discomfort. Confidence and doubt. Light and dark.
And doubt is part of the journey.
I'm not going to end this blog with advice on how to handle your doubt, or even on how to create a life you love. My lived experience and my personal sharings are my advice and my message. The most I can offer is to say that if you choose to be on this journey, at least we're on it together
Have you experienced self-doubt while creating a life you love? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!