One of life’s sayings that has always resonated with me is ‘we are architects of our own reality’ and it turns out to be true, just not in the way I thought it was. A couple of years ago, after suffering what I’m pretty sure was what would be termed a ‘burnout’, one of the major insights I had was how it wasn’t all up to me to continue to control and curate everything going on in my life. The idea that it was all on my shoulders looked extremely compelling at the time and then I saw that not only was that not the case now, but it never had been.
We are bombarded with messages telling us that it’s all about the effort we put in, our can-do attitudes and making the right decisions at the right time and I’m not saying those things aren’t in the mix, but it turns out that it’s not all on us after all. This isn’t some hippy-dippy new age philosophy, it’s a cold, hard fact. You can test it for yourself: think about the things that bring you most joy in your life, or the achievements you are most proud of. Now, ask yourself how much of ‘this’ is truly and solely because of you and you alone?
It is a question I often ask my coaching clients and they will tend to reply with answers which include: their partners and families, their achievements in business, overcoming personal fears and setbacks, undertaking huge challenges and adventures, and so on. We then trace the journey to having those things and/or achievements in their lives all the way back to their origin and every time, with no exceptions, my clients are surprised by how much less they had to do with them than they had previously believed. Some can initially find this challenges their ego, but everyone eventually comes to see it as a massive relief.
When we look at events that have happened in our lives, we are telling a story that weaves all of the elements together. I’m not saying we’re intentionally lying or arrogantly exaggerating our own importance, but our culture conditions us to see our lives, albeit unconsciously, in a certain and inevitably narrowly edited way. I’ve got countless examples in my own life, everything from building teams/companies, cultivating relationships with key people, personally and professionally, to landing jobs, promotions and clients and so on. When it looked like I had made all that happen, the pressure to continue to make such amazing stuff happen was immense and ultimately too much to bear. When I realised that I didn’t, well not in the way I thought I had anyway, it was like being liberated from my own prison.
But hang on, if I still think we are ‘architects of our own reality’, isn’t that at odds with the fact that I don’t think it’s all down to us? And if I no longer believe that it’s all on me, have I abdicated all responsibility and adopted a ‘devil may care’ approach to living my life? What about my clients? Has everything fallen apart for them as a result? Well no, actually, on all counts and in fact the reality is quite the opposite. With so much less to worry about, we are set free from our unbelievably busy minds and able to find genuine clarity, even in the face of the most challenging situations.
So for anyone suffering under the burden of feeling like they are responsible for everything that happens in their life – at work, at home, wherever and everywhere – it’s not all on you. Seeing and embracing this is all that stands between you and your natural vibrancy and if you want some help, you know where to us.
We love to have vibrant conversations so if this blog post has made you curious, get in touch.
Enjoyed this blog post? Please share it!