Even before writing legend Stephen King sobered up, he would keep the door shut tight to his writing studio. When he felt his writing was ready, he’d open the door only to his wife, who he dubbed his supreme editor.
King has what he calls “closed-door writing” and “open-door writing.”
Closed-door writing is the crap, the stuff that he doesn’t want anyone to see. It’s the muck that all professionals and top-performers still muddle through to create something of high value (though they like to keep that hidden).
It’s what Anne Lamott would call the “shitty first draft” in her book on writing, Bird by Bird (one of my personal favorite reads).
To move beyond the first crappy draft, King finds the affirmation he needs from his wife. He describes in his book, On Writing, a scene where he gives his wife a manuscript on a road trip and she reads it in the passenger seat while he drives. He describes biting his nails in nervousness as he waits for her to laugh or gasp when he knows she’s at certain parts.
If she doesn’t laugh, he questions whether or not it’s actually funny. If she doesn’t gasp at a horror scene, then he questions whether or not it’s actually well-written.
Perhaps you can relate? When are there moments your confidence depends on the approval of others?
This is The Fulcrum of Affirmation. It’s the place we reach when creating something new and looking for affirmation that we’re doing it right. I find myself here very often. It’s that point that as soon as you press “send” and finish your project, there’s a chance that it will either succeed or face a humiliating failure. This affirmation brings us through the turning point on our hero’s journey.
But we don’t need it.
Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches us through his book, The Power of Intention, that it’s incredibly important to find your affirmation from within. He says that living your life on purpose has everything to do with living out the best version of yourself, not following dogma or constantly caving to peer pressure. Living your life on purpose is the effect of tuning into who you really are.
Dyer says that if you have a passion for something like fixing cars and have developed a talent for it and the community really needs a stellar auto mechanic, then yes, of course, being the best auto mechanic you can be is your tried and true purpose.
But if you don’t want to be an auto-mechanic or a doctor or a lawyer or (Fill in the Blank), then perhaps it’s time to dig deeper to find your purpose.
(Pssst…it’s okay to reinvent and redefine yourself at any time you’d like.)
Here are three tips to find the affirmation from within to live your life on purpose.
1. We Are Only A Reflection Of Those We Keep Close To Our Heart
We’re a social species. We thrive on relationships and seek connection with others on emotional, platonic, and physical planes.
We learn best through what pedagogy would call “Constructive Learning,” meaning we learn best through connecting with others.
Before the days of smartphones and industry, we sat around the campfire and told stories at night, sharing in that day’s feast. But we’ve since lost this aspect of ourselves as storytelling animals and are inundated with messages from the media telling us what we should look like, act like, and model.
We’ve moved from a campfire society to a billboard society.
So how can we be picky with who we allow into our sphere of influence? The truth is… it’s not so easy. Our parents, religious leaders, teachers, friends, community leaders, and others offer what they believe to be the best advice. And this advice comes from a source of love, but this energy can strongly influence the way we make decisions.
People often ask me how I am such a positive person, an optimist they say. I tell them that I am only a reflection of those I keep close to my heart. Even when I’m making a decision on my own and not asking for anyone else’s approval, the decision I make still stems from those I’ve allowed to help build my sphere of influence. The books I’ve read, the people I admire, the conversations I have with others, and the lessons I’ve learned from my sphere of influence all morph the decisions I make.
For me, I try to surround myself with positive people because I know how easy it can be to be held down by fear and negative thinking. I’m picky about who I let into my sphere of influence.
So, even though you may not have complete control over your sphere of influence, who and what do you personally invite into it?
2. Sit Still To Move Mindfully
I forgot who it was who said it, but meditation allows us to experience what the other senses cannot. It helps us tap into our intuition.
Meditation gives us control. It teaches us when to dance with our thoughts, when to sit still, and when to be an observer.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? That the art of sitting still in meditation helps control our outward actions and reactions? Learning to stay still helps to make more precise movement.
Known in yoga circles as Kundalini Awakening, meditation opens up the third eye chakra which points inward and is said to help reflect the divine spiritual truths inside of us. When our third eyes are open and not blurry, it’s easier to tap into the spiritual truths. It’s easier to find the affirmation from within.
3. Say No To FOMO & Ship Forward
So often I find myself caught in FOMO: the fear of missing out.
If I don’t do this, will I be missing out on an incredible experience?
If I commit to this project, will I be missing out on another one?
If I don’t commit to this project, will I be missing out on my big break?
Especially when it comes to affirmation, we sometimes don’t take action when we think that there’s something bigger and better out there. We look for affirmation that we’re on the right path. But fearing to miss out on something stops us from even experiencing what we have right here in front of us.
Getting caught in the rabbit hole of FOMO is the rat race and stops us from shipping our best ideas. It’s another name for the thing that many of us try to avoid getting caught in — the daily grind.
Whenever FOMO pops up ask yourself,
Am I living in the present or caught in a hypothetical future?
Am I creating or procrastinating?
Many of us go to our graves with the best ideas still trapped inside of us. Use this imagery as the catalyst to help you commit to ship your idea and move forward.
Like what you are reading? Here is a free copy of Your Life on Purpose: Ten Simple Tips to Live a Life with Impact (no, you don’t have to give up your email). If you prefer to listen, here’s my 10-minute daily podcast on living intentionally.
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