It’s writing for me, fashion design for my cousin, chess master for her son, Yankees’ shortstop for her other son, first cellist in international symphony for my niece. Every Little League kid dreams of Yankee pinstripes and the Hall of Fame. Every musician dreams of rock (or Philharmonic) stardom and millions. Every actor dreams of dramatic discovery, constant lead roles, adulation, and Oscars. Every writer dreams of bestsellers, big money, movie adaptations, appearances on national TV, and induction into the Kindle Million Club.
Some of us make it. And most of us don’t. Why? Sure, we must work enough, practice enough, pursue enough, and concentrate enough. But there’s another crucial reason—we must feel we deserve our Dream.
DO YOU FEEL YOU DON’T DESERVE YOUR DREAM?
If you feel you don’t deserve your Dream, no matter how much time and sweat you put in, how many movers and shakers you know, how many “lucky” breaks you have, or how gorgeous (or outrageous) you are, you will torpedo yourself. Louise Hay reminds us, “When we have strong beliefs that we don’t deserve, we have problems doing what we want” (The Power Is Within You, p. 164).
Despite countless queries and pitches, I felt undeserving of writing success for a long time. The mounting frustrations forced me, finally, to recognize some of the red lights that kept me gridlocked. See if and how they apply to you.
• Do you feel a vague sense of guilt when you’re doing what you really want to?
• When you’ve just settled down to create, do you suddenly remember you absolutely must go get the car washed or clean out the refrigerator?
• When you’ve marked out the whole afternoon for your project, do you suddenly feel nausea, headaches, dizziness?
Admit these signs of nondeserving. Your shifty unconscious has just dispatched the guilt gestapo to subvert your creativity and stifle your Dream.
Unfortunately, our culture keeps this squad on active duty, especially for women. Mothers are notorious for taking the raggedy heel of the bread, serving everyone else the perfect wedges of pie, and scraping the dregs for their plate. Wives are notorious for putting offtheir Dreams until their husbands have established their careers, children have grown, elderly parents have been cared for, and church has served its last supper.
As if these societal expectations aren’t enough to keep us trussed for life, many of us stay tied up for fear or guilt of bettering our parents. So, we deliberately sabotage our successes.
BEGINNING TO REVERSE
To reverse any of these Dream-crushing thoughts and actions, you don’t need 30 years of therapy. Only realize you have the power to change, first by recognition and then by refusal. Recognize you’re letting those Dream crushers govern you. And refuse to let in the self-denial and guilt gang, no matter how much they’re pounding on the door and menacing at the windows.
Have you boldly asked yourself what you really do want, what your Dream is? Elizabeth Gilbert, in her irresistible spiritual chick lit odyssey Eat Pray Love, had such an epiphany. When she finally dared to ask herself what she really wanted, her answers ranged from a new linen shirt to living in Italy. And she went after both and many more.
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