It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Self, interrupted: What constant external influences are doing to our being

woman-typing-phone-message-on-social-network-at-night-picture-id598912704 Self, interrupted: What constant external influences are doing to our being

Have you ever felt lost? Not in the Google Maps kind of way but in life? Do you sometimes feel like your life is not going anywhere? You feel overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do, where to go, who to turn to—you simply don’t know what to do with yourself. It happens to the best of us sometimes. But why? 

In our connected world, too many people and other stuff find their way to us competing for our attention. The digital world, particularly social media, gave birth to a new way to get us addicted to consuming content that’s not always good for us. In truth, even those that are seemingly inspirational and beneficial for us, can prove to be detrimental. 

There also seems to be way too many experts, teachers, influencers and gurus who claim that they could change our life and solve all our problems. How many times have you fallen into that trap? Reading countless books, enrolling in courses, attending workshops and seminars that’s supposed to change our lives but we end up in the same place—lost, confused and even more overwhelmed than when we began. Why? They’re supposed to help us, right? What gives?

Sadly, we are taught in this world to follow a roadmap with specific rules to have a successful, happy life. We are told to listen to authorities and experts (in various forms) instead of ourselves because they know better, they know more than us and they have power that we don’t have. 

We are also told be selfless. Think about what that word means for a second—selfless: without the self; to think of others’ needs before your own. And we’re made to believe that it’s a good thing. It makes us a saint, a hero, or a great person overall, if we’re selfless. But we don’t realize that by putting others first, we—willingly or unwillingly—give away our power over our own lives and we move farther away from our true being.

When we came into this world, we brought with us everything that we need to live our life—what lessons to learn, which people would play what role in it, our unique gift and what we’d do with it, and most of all, the inner wisdom that we need to help guide us through our entire life. If there is only one thing I could claim to know for to be true, it is that all the answers that we seek are within us. It’s just a matter of tapping into them.

There were many times that I felt lost and overwhelmed and I used to wonder why. What caused me to feel that way when the day before I was feeling like I was on top of the world? Through neutral observation and introspection, I was able to see clearly what caused it every time—external noise. It’s what pulls me away from my core Self.

In her book Dying to Be Me, NDE survivor Anita Moorjani has put this into words very succinctly. “I discovered that when my life seems directionless and I feel lost (which still happens to me frequently), what it really means is that I’ve lost my sense of self. I’m not connected with who I truly am and what I’ve come here to be. This has tended to happen when I stop listening to my own internal voice and give my power away to external sources, such as TV commercials, newspapers, big drug companies, my peers, cultural and societal beliefs, and the like.” 

In my case, the biggest culprit are the so-called influencers, experts, and gurus shouting from the social media mountaintop how they have the tools to help me live the “life of my dreams.” They have the answers and I don’t and they have millions of followers and a gazillion of dollars to prove it. They have the “secret formula” to my success. My many-years-ago-Self would have definitely said, “Yes, please! Sign me up!” But my now-Self says, “No, thank you. I know what’s best for me, not you.”

I’ve proven firsthand that their way just doesn’t work for me. I had to part with so much of my hard-earned resources to realize that. I wasn’t one to not try, so I thought, why the hell not. But, it was like trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. The more I sought out those who seem to “have the answers,” the more lost, overwhelmed and directionless I became.

There’s this one very popular coach I followed for a while. Somewhere along the way, he offered a free test to determine if I—to paraphrase him—“have what it takes” to become successful. If the results showed that I’m not, no worries, he has the tools to help me get there. After taking the little test, I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve never felt like a loser until now.”

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy and I followed him because he inspired me (and millions of others). But even with all his good intentions, the gentle hands of the cosmos made me see it differently to steer me in the right direction. After taking that test, I vowed to myself that I will never again let anyone determine for me who I am, where I am in life and what I’m capable of.

Another uber-viral coach I followed even suggested that we should all get coaches. Yup, not just one coach, but one for different aspects of our life—so, a business coach, a fitness coach, a relationship coach, even a help-me-raise-my-puppy coach maybe? I thought, Is he freakin’ serious? Is he for real? It’s like saying, “Sorry, guys, you are so incapable of knowing what you need to do with your life, you need to get as many coaches as you can for you to live the life of your dreams and be happy.”

Over the years, I learned that the more I listen to others—no matter how popular, successful, loved, holy, or knowledgeable they are—the more I lose sight of my connection to myself. I become completely disoriented and confused when I get inundated by the external input—like the well-intended but unsolicited advice from the people around me, or someone offering the “proven formula” that helped billionaires be where they are today.

Interruption Science proved that interruptions affect human performance. One study showed that it takes 25 minutes for us to get back on track after we’ve been interrupted so they cause us to make errors and affect our productivity. External “chatter” affects our inner being the same way. It interrupts the Self. If it becomes too loud and too much, they drown out our own inner guiding voice so we lose our way. If we don’t take time to unplug from it all, we lose our sense of direction completely.  

I’ve made a conscious choice to not be too “connected” digitally or otherwise. At the same time, I don’t live in isolation so it is not possible to never be exposed to external input entirely. So, I still do end up feeling lost and confused. But now, instead of looking for direction outside of myself, I turn inward. I make time to be with myself again—to meditate, take a walk, put on some uplifting music, or just sit in stillness—to refocus and feel that connection with my inner being once again.

Take time to recover from the interruptions of the outside world. When you feel lost, reconnect within.

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