The Union Path Podcast
Too Much Trying
John Coleman 0:00:20
In kind of a funny, paradoxical way. It's really easy to live a life of doing too much it's really easy to live a life of trying too hard, of trying to do too much, of filling our lives full of constant work and effort, striving, aspiring, pushing, driving towards whatever we're trying to achieve or whatever we're trying to be. And of course there can be virtue in trying. There can be virtue in doing. There's nothing inherently wrong or inherently bad or inherently unwise about trying. Truly we are here to do things. We are here to achieve something. We are here to be something. And that being is largely expressed through our doing. But like a lot of things it's really easy to get out of balance. It's really easy to overly absorb or overly incorporate one aspect of life and neglect or abandon the others. It's really easy to get single minded to develop a pinpoint focus on not only what we should be but the only proper way to achieve that end, to achieve that goal, to achieve that vision. In our culture we pay so much respect. We serve so much adoration to the doers, to the ones among us who seem to do and do and do and try and try and try and again. Doing is good.
John Coleman 0:02:07
Doing what we're supposed to do is what we're supposed to be doing. That seems both simple and obvious. But in my opinion anyway there's a little more to it than that. There's a little bit more to just doing for the sake of doing and really having our doing being a reflection of who and what we really are, have our doing being fed out of something a little deeper. A little more inspired than simply our own frantic effort and simply our own determination, our own willpower, our own attempting to force things to be a certain way. And it's easy to get this message it's easy to get the message that everything we want will be achieved from doing as much as we possibly can and not only doing as much as we possibly can doing it as fast as we possibly can. This is how things get done. It's a volume game and the more volume of effort we can apply the more likely or the more quickly we'll get what we want. But of course when we're too one sided, when we're too one dimensional, when we're too overly focused on a single aspect of life we naturally get out of balance. And for a lot of us the first thing we do when we get out of balance is more of whatever we've been doing. We look at the deficit and we look at the deficiency in outcome as a direct result of our own effort. As a direct result of what we're not doing. What we're not doing enough of the solution to not having what we want is more. More effort, more focus, more determination. And what's tricky or easily confusing is this might actually be true.
John Coleman 0:04:04
Because what matters the most isn't so much what we're doing or not doing. What matters the most is what all of this doing is being fed from is being fed out of is the energy that's fueling the doing. And these habits of doing can get so ingrained. We can get so used to just going and going and going and the trying to move faster and faster and faster that we can let the skills of simply being simply existing atrophy it's. Sort of like if we've really developed our skills of speaking but we've never really learned how to listen or at the very least we've never really been interested in listening, then that won't really make us a very whole person that won't really make us a very interesting person to interact with at least on a long term. That in order for our speaking to really be whole, to really be fully developed, we have to know how to listen. And not only that, we not only have to know how to listen, we actually have to listen. We have to spend some time not speaking. We have to spend some time outside of our own expression, outside of our own thoughts and ideas and take in something else. For many of us, we actually need to learn to slow down. We need to learn to let go with our overdeveloped sense of drive, sense of force, sense of pushing. We actually need to learn how to yield. We actually need to learn how to do less because ultimately it's the doing less that allow us to be more. It's kind of a funny paradox that I think a lot of us experience, that the times where we spent working as hard as we can, doing as much as we can, especially over a longer term, weren't really the times that we actually got the most done, that we actually achieved the most change, or at the very least, that we derived the most satisfaction from our lives. That can be so easy to be moving so quickly and doing so much that we're actually missing out on the feedback and the cooperation that life is trying to give us.
John Coleman 0:06:36
We've taken whatever we're trying to do, whatever we're trying to achieve, whatever we're trying to make happen, whatever change we're trying to create and we've reduced it from a co creative act to an individually created act. And whenever we reduce things down to just ourselves, just our own individual selves, just all of our thoughts, all of our willpower, all of our ideas and nothing from the outside, not only do we make our way so much more challenging, so much harder, but we limit our way because it's only informed by what we currently know. We're not actually growing. We're not actually expanding. We're trying to push more of whatever our current concepts are into the world instead of listening and cooperating with what the world is telling us and this really does stunt our growth. This really does slow us down. This really does squander the opportunity we have for creation. It's so easy to get in our own way. It's so easy to slow ourselves down. It's so easy for us to actually resist the change that we really want because we're so caught up in our doing. We're so caught up in our forcing. We're so caught up in our tightly clenched grip that we maintain over life in our effort to make it be a certain way, to making it bend to our will, to making it match whatever ideas we have in our minds. I think for any of us who've actually tried this, we can feel the resistance in that. We can feel how hard it is. And maybe some of us have gotten to a point where we feel like life really shouldn't be this hard.
John Coleman 0:08:39
Things really shouldn't be this grueling, this existence I have shouldn't be this depleting the. On some level we know that life isn't simply meant for us to completely pour ourselves out. Life is meant to fill us life is meant to fill us back up. That it's an interchange. It's an exchange of us expressing our energy into life and then life replenishing our energy as a response. So if we think about this idea of balance, we think about this idea that perhaps we've gotten a little too far out on the spectrum of our doing. Well, how do we undo that? Why would we undo that? Because at first thought, first blush, we've been so used to doing everything we can to being so fiercely independent, to trying so hard, that the idea of trying less can be scary. At the very least can seem kind of stupid. This doesn't make any sense. Like everything that happens is because somebody did something. And if I'm not doing anything, then that's just going to slow things down even more. That's just going to separate me from what I want further. That's just going to make all this take so much longer.
John Coleman 0:10:05
And part of the reason I'm trying so hard is I just want to get it done. Truth be told, this kind of sucks and I just want to get it over with. I think obviously there's the imbalance right there. A lot of us can have funny ideas, myself included for sure, about how we think life works even though conclusively. It's trying to tell us something different. It's trying to show us something different through our experience. And one of those ideas is that we'll get everything we want if we just suffer enough. That somehow we have to earn what we want, that we're not enough. We're not entitled to what we want, that we weren't born with a path that our lives were meant to take, with things we were meant to attain, with service we were meant to provide, with rewards we were meant to receive. That all of this has to be earned. That we come in with some sort of deficit, some sort of spiritual debt, and that we can only have what we want when this original debt is paid off. That we can only be or meant to be once we have redeemed ourselves through our effort, through our trying, through our doing. And so if these are ideas that we hold, maybe there's some value in challenging them. Maybe there's some value of even looking back on our life and asking the times where I was the happiest, the times where I was the most fulfilled, the times where I felt the best, the times where I felt most alive. Were those actually the times that I was working the hardest?
John Coleman 0:11:56
Or if we've spent long periods of time working as hard as we can, doing as much as we can, going as fast as we can. What was the result of that? Did that really pay off the way we think it would? Have we actually ever tried to do less? Have we ever tried to listen? Have we ever tried to hold on to the desire for whatever we want, whatever change we want to see happen, and then allow inspired action to come to us, allow ourselves to wait until we know what to do rather than frantically striving and maniacally doing all the things we think we should do? Have we ever actually tried to receive instead of trying to make everything happen on our own? We've never entertained these questions. Perhaps this can be interesting. Perhaps there's a little value in introducing a little bit of doubt to these ideas that trying as hard as I possibly can is always the right thing for me to be doing. Because if we're not taking the time to listen, if we're not taking the time to just be if we're not taking the time to reflect and pay attention to how our life actually is, it can be really easy to ignore and overlook the feedback that life is trying to give us. It can be really easy to continue living a life that doesn't actually fit, that isn't actually ours, that we aren't actually comfortable in. It doesn't actually feel good to us because we're so overwhelming these feelings, this discomfort with our effort. In a way, we're doing so much so we don't have to listen, we don't have to feel. We can just assume that through enough trying and enough effort, we'll feel the way we want to feel eventually that through enough suffering we'll earn our reward.
John Coleman 0:14:06
But this can be a risky assumption to make. At the very least, this can be an unwise assumption to make. Because if we've never tried anything else, how would we really know? How do we really know that this truly is the path to what we want? How do we truly know that this is the best way for us to actually get there? Because I would say, I would argue, I would assert that ultimately what we're looking for is balance. What we're looking for is comfort. What we're looking for is satisfaction. What we're looking for is fulfillment. And whenever we're out of balance, especially if we're radically out of balance, we'll never actually be able to experience that for very long anyway. And so it's important to listen. It's important to take stock. And how balanced are we really? How balanced is all of our doing with our being? How balanced and comfortable do we actually feel in our own lives?
John Coleman 0:15:16
And if we aren't comfortable in our own lives, where are we uncomfortable? Start to look at, start to ponder, why are we uncomfortable? What do we really need? What are we really lacking? And are that all the things we're doing, all of our frantic striving, all of our effort really actually addressing this, really in response to this? Or is it just a way to ignore it a little bit better to drown out the noise of the conflict within us instead of facing it, listening to it, honoring it, so we can actually resolve it. Because we look at all of our effort, all of our trying, all of our doing as response to discomfort. More discomfort won't be the solution. We can't discomfort our way to comfort. Now one of the gifts of mid age is fleeing. Energy is dwindling energy. We simply can't try as much we simply can't do as much as we used to. We don't have the energy like we used to. We can't keep pounding our head against the same wall as long as we used to. That starts to hurt more.
John Coleman 0:16:34
The body starts to break down. The will becomes far more finite and brittle. And so for a lot of us, when we find that we're exhausted, when we find that we're burned out, or we just find that all this trying, all this doing has never really gotten us anywhere or where it has gotten us isn't really all that great, then that's the opportunity to try something new. That's the opportunity to learn something new. That's the opportunity to experience something new. Because we ourselves are finally listening. We ourselves are finally cooperating. We're finally learning to be one with life rather than the conqueror of life. We're finally willing to thrive in our doing rather than trying to get things done just to get it out of the way. Because our doing is our life. And if we're trying to remove our doing from our life as quickly as possible, then we're diminishing our life along the way. Life is right now, life is this moment. Life is whatever we're doing in the present moment, and that's all it will ever be. The future and the past, those are ideas. What life is, what life really is, is happening right now, right here in front of us, to us, with us, through us, and of course, this isn't to say that we shouldn't try, that we shouldn't do.
John Coleman 0:18:18
Trying and doing are vital parts of life. Trying and doing is the source of all of the joy in life. That's the truth. But it needs to be balanced. It needs to be balanced with its opposite. It needs to be balanced with being, with listening, with cooperating, with being receptive. That our force, our pushing needs to be balanced with yielding and letting go. This is how we recalibrate. This is how we re acclimate to the energy of life. Because if we've gotten so used to pushing, so used to trying so hard, so used to willing our way from day to day to day and we've missed out on the opportunity to flow with the energy of life, to let life inform us, to let life guide us, to let life nurture us, to let life propel us forward. Because as competitive as it may feel, as competitive as our world and our society and our culture may feel, in my opinion, the truth of the life that we want is actually cooperative, is working with and for rather than against and over. And so it's important to look at wherever in our life we happen to be out of balance and then doing something about it. If we've been doing too much, if we've been trying too hard, well, this is an excellent opportunity to try something different. If we're scared that if we stop trying that all of a sudden everything we've been doing will fall apart and will be broken and abandoned and homeless and destroyed, maybe good idea to challenge some of those fears, challenge some of those assumptions. See what it's like to go through life as a participant rather than going through life as an enforcer.
John Coleman 0:20:26
Let life inform us, let life replenish us, let life nourish us, let life guide us to and through wherever it is we're trying to go, whatever desires we're trying to fulfill. Work to be one with life rather than working to be in willful opposition to life, trust that the life we want is attainable, the life that truly fits us, that truly is ours, is there, is waiting, is being kept ready for us to assume it. Give up the notion that we were born in deficit, we were born broken, we were born flawed. And the only way to be whole is through our striving and doing and achievement. Start with a premise that not only were we born whole, but we're whole now. And what would it mean to move forward from a sense of wholeness, from a sense of already being complete and experience life that way, experience life from a sense of already being whole rather than going through life constantly trying to fill some sort of void, some sort of emptiness. Because most likely it's been my experience anyway, that if we look inside, if we feel inside and we sense a void that actually doesn't really have that much to do with what the outside world isn't giving us. And has far more to do with parts of ourselves that we have lost contact with, that we have abandoned, that we haven't been abandoned and jettisoned by the world. We've abandoned ourselves. We've abandoned our true selves. We stopped looking for and looking at what we really are. We stopped listening to what we really want and what we really need. These voids are voids of our own attention, of our own awareness, of our own acknowledgment. And we can reestablish this connection whenever we choose to. We can return to a place of wholeness by finding the wholeness already within us.
John Coleman 0:23:01
The wholeness we seek, the wholeness we crave, the wholeness we desire can never really be achieved through anything outside of ourselves. And of course things outside of ourselves can be wonderful and be lovely. The human experience can be absolutely amazing, but it will never make us whole. It will never truly complete us because these ideas are built on a fallacy. These ideas are built on the idea that we're not already complete, that we're not already whole and that it's my belief that we're already complete. We're already whole because we're here right now in this present moment, in this instant, we are already whole, we are already complete. Nothing else is required. And of course we can grow. Of course we should grow. That's what we're here for after all. But right now, in this moment, nothing else is required. And if we found ourselves trying really hard, trying overly hard, doing too much, trying to make too many things happen, well maybe this is good opportunity to seek this wholeness, this completeness within first define wholeness and completeness within ourselves and then go out into the world, experience things from that place. And the funny thing is we may do the exact same things. We still like what we like, we still want what we want, we still enjoy what we enjoy. But we can actually enjoy it fully because these experiences now don't have a responsibility to us.
John Coleman 0:24:57
We're not giving them a job, we're not having to make them do anything for us and we can enjoy what they actually are. That's an incredible liberation. That can be an ecstatic epiphany when we have it. And we can set ourselves up to have this experience. When we balance our doing and our being, when we find a sense of balance within ourselves, when we use our own awareness to get to know who and what we really are, define the wholeness and the completeness that already exists within us and then live fully from that place. That self awareness in my opinion, in my experience, is the surest route to the completeness that we seek. To answering and reconciling conflict and the confusion that we feel. We find ourselves by going inward, not outward. Oftentimes we achieve what we want by doing less, not by doing more. We bring ourselves into alignment. We bring ourselves into alignment within ourselves. And then we find ourselves in a state of alignment with life. We rectify and reconcile this conflict within us. And then we find our outsides, our outside world to be far more conflict free as well. We find comfort within and the our outside world feels far more comfortable too.
John Coleman 0:26:46
We see the reflection we want not by changing the mirror, but by changing ourselves through our own awareness, through our own pondering, through our own curiosity, through our own interest in seeking the wholeness we crave within. It doesn't require anyone else. We don't need permission, we don't need some special schooling, we don't need any kind of certification, we don't need to read any certain book or have be under the tutelage of any specific master. We are free to seek and achieve the wholeness that we really want, whenever we choose, because it exists within. We already have it. It's our job, it's our work to rediscover it, to reestablish it, to bring ourselves back into alignment with ourselves and then use our aligned expression to find an experience of alignment in the world. Wholeness seeks wholeness, wholeness reflects wholeness. And we'll find the wholeness we crave. We'll find the wholeness we seek by being whole within ourselves.