I’m about halfway into my time in Playa and loving it as always. It has been restorative, revelatory, confronting, and preparatory for the next chapter of my journey. Several themes have emerged for me this year and maybe they’re all interrelated in one big spiritual / personal development orgy…
In the usual synchronistic way that life unfolds, I feel the confluence of many tracks of my life. In growing my coaching practice, dating, exploring consulting work, and figuring out publishing paths, there are very similar challenges:
- Reflecting on my unique super powers, passions, and relevant experiences
- Matching those unique attributes to identify my target niche. The clearer that I can be on what I want, the clearer it will be to find it and know that I’ve found it
- Researching my target niche and crafting a strategy to differentiate myself / offering to them
- Staying focused on that strategy and niche by saying no to distractions that are outside the target: it’s a bit circular though, because sometimes I need to say yes to the red flags to know that they are dead-ends. The hard part is when I know something is a dead-end to immediately walk away and not invest any more time, energy, or resources into it. This is especially important if there are many green flags but one or two clear red flags that are dead-ends–these are the most distracting.
Nic, don’t indulge in the decadent ice cream with two nose rings (eek!) sitting in front of me for the chance of delicious broccoli later. Don’t turn down that intriguing detour with the “DEAD END” sign lined with blinking red lights, because if the “Yes” comes by, I won’t be available. The scary thing is I don’t even know what Broccoli will/should look like, because she will be a new type of person with a different relationship dynamic than I’ve been looking for and finding.
Sound exhausting? It is!
My good friend and life wingman, Pawel, recommended that I see it as a fun scavenger hunt where every dead-end reveals a new clue, taking me closer to the treasure. And the great thing is that the treasure is also seeking me out and maybe going through similar speed bumps.
In my coaching seminar, one of the presenters also noted that “your ideal client is also seeking you out.” This mutual seeking is a really beautiful sentiment of attraction (though I’m not sure I fully subscribe to The Secret–e.g., I do believe some things are out of our control, like getting cancer isn’t your fault because you didn’t think positively enough).
He further advised to make it like a fun and enjoyable game or else it can be a frustrating slog, because it may require getting a lot of “clues” and saying no a lot. And with every no, instead of being fed up, I could think, “Thank you, I’m one step closer to meeting the woman I want to be with.”
The resistance holds the clues
When we hit resistance–that uncomfortable feeling of aversion–it’s showing us exactly where we need to go to unlock the next level of growth. For example, reactions to challenges that are wildly out of proportion–it’s a map to the inner world so our conscious self can navigate the unconscious with compassion and curiosity. Canceled or postponed dates drive me crazy–it feels like rejection, or at a minimum de-prioritization, and I feel extremely devalued, insecure, and impatient. And counterintuitively, the strategy to move forward isn’t to avoid the land mines but to fully embrace them and get curious about the feelings and ickiness of it all!
No silver bullet to life
In a quiet moment (I think it was the shower or savasana or walking, where all my epiphanies happen), I realized that a relationship isn’t going to solve everything. In fact, no one relationship, romantic or otherwise, can solve all my problems. It will probably bring some awesome benefits AND will also expose new challenges. I’ll likely miss things about being single like being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
As one of my coaching students pointed out: “You’ve got as much broccoli as you need in all these those that surround you, us included. Maybe the intimacy isn’t there but you’ve got the rest!!” So, it’s really about the meandering journey and dynamic transitions. I’ve also learned it’s helpful to set a destination to give direction and shape to the journey, even if the real fulfillment is in the passage, not the arrival. So, can I believe that “everything I desire is within me right now” and not “out there?”
Self-acceptance vs. complacency
This age-old battle that often gets brought up in discussions of whether meditation will make you a Zen-ed out pot-smoking couch potato. Tim Ferriss tries to serve both self-acceptance and drive/motivation by scheduling in blocks of time to focus on each (e.g., gratitude journal vs. book writing).
My therapist recommended reading Osho, who supposedly talks a lot about being both the calm, equanimous, grounded inner self and being big and out in the world doing things, reinventing the self, and growing. I’ve heard about Osho for awhile but never really read his books so I’m starting with the orange book “Love, Freedom, and Aloneness.” I just learned that he has a controversial legacy as a sex cult leader but will try to separate the usefulness of his writing from the man as a person. I guess everyone is ultimately human with their own flaws…
“I own my limits”
In meditation this morning, I came up with a new meta intention which is “I own my limits.” I’ve been so focused on conquering fears and expanding my boundaries and comfort zone in the last 5 years that I haven’t fully appreciated boundaries/limits wherever they are, even if they’re sometimes shrinking and becoming tighter.
Limits can expand and contract in different areas of life over time and it’s not objectively good to always be expanding. It’s more about being aware and owning wherever you are in life! 🤯
Maybe I can own fearing class IV and V rapids and not wanting to raft them. I can own reaching my drug limit. I can own not wanting to go on a boat today. I can own my limits instead of feeling ashamed by them or trying to hide them or thinking people won’t like me with limits.
As Pawel astutely observed, “Owning your limits is where a deeper level of personal power manifests. It’s one thing to keep pushing and expanding, but to acknowledge and own your limits means to let go and accept things as they are. And you need both of these energies.”
Personality inventories are fascinating but never the full picture: I did an awesome Enneagram workshop run by an awesome Playa friend, Ashlie Woods, where I learned I think I’m a 3 (Achiever)! Super interesting session, and one of the powerful disclaimers was that we all have the full spectrum of the rainbow, because we’re complex human beings. As exciting as typing ourselves is, it’s also important not to pigeon-hole ourselves as just blue or just orange!