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Do you feel like you’ve read every self-improvement book out there, applied all the tips, and still, nothing sticks? I’ve been there. Recently I heard an interview with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversations with God series. He describes how a woman approached him with this very issue. As it turns out, the solution is much simpler than we’ve been led to believe. Here’s what to do when nothing is working and your life is a mess.
Points to Keep in Mind When it Seems Like Your Life is in Shambles
1. Know that you’re already complete
We often mistakenly believe that we’re lacking in some way. And once we get our dream career, house, or spouse, then we’ll be complete.
As Neale puts it, the point of life is not to “become MORE than you now are, but to be WHO you are.”
We all have a burning desire within us. The longer it stays dormant, the more we suffer.
This is a key principle in Derek Rydall’s The Abundance Project as well: “If you have a desire to express yourself in a certain way—to cultivate certain talents, gifts, or abilities—but you’re waiting to be good enough or to have the right opportunity, right audience, right timing, or right condition, you are blocking the evolutionary impulse within you.”
For me, I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. However, for years my priority was to make a living — and I was convinced that writing and making a living were not compatible. I kept pushing my dream farther and farther into the future.
Eventually I realized that I had to show up each day as if I had already achieved my goal of being a professional writer. At first it felt strange, like performing before an empty room. But soon, I started to get paid writing gigs. And I did get a job as an English teacher that was more compatible with my passion.
2. Give freely of whatever quality you think you’re lacking
Once we recognize our completeness, the next step, as Neale says, is to realize that “we are not here to acquire anything but to give.”
If you feel you need money, for instance, then give to others who might also be wanting in this department (obviously, though, don’t go overboard). Donate to a charity or tip your Lyft driver extra.
Eventually the universe will reward you. But if you’re stingy, you’ll continue to experience lack because that’s what you’re holding in mind.
This is the basic concept of the law of attraction. But I like Neale’s practical interpretation. It’s hard to visualize having a million dollars if you’ve never had $10,000 in your bank account, but it’s simple to take small actions each day that demonstrate having-ness.
Similarly, if you want companionship, find people who also want this and give it to them. Trust me, loneliness is an epidemic. Plenty of people would love to hear from you.
If you don’t have friends or relatives that you trust, then volunteer at a nursing home or mentor a foster child.
This concept really resonated with me because for years when I was desperately lonely and craved any kind of connection, people could smell my neediness a mile away and would flee in the opposite direction! But if you have something to offer, people will gravitate toward you.
3. Embrace the darkness
There’s a common saying that you can’t see the light without the darkness. This simply means that those moments of grief and frustration help to accentuate the moments of peace and joy.
A relaxing evening with a movie feels so nice after a stressful week at work. Or at the most basic level, a glass of water feels extra refreshing after a tough workout.
This means being grateful for everything that happens to you. Good or bad, each event gives you a chance to express more of yourself.
For instance, although my father is strongly anti-war, he also admits that his time serving in the military helped to shape who he is today.
When I started having seizures, they provided the opportunity to address pent-up issues and also brought me closer to my family.
As Neale says, when you recognize that “anything that goes wrong can be a tool for self-knowledge, this removes anger, disappointment, resentment, and righteousness from your conscience and replaces it with kindness, clarity, and compassion.”
This applies not only to external circumstances or your relationships with others, but also your relationship with yourself. Most of us carry around loads of guilt. Seriously, I still beat myself up for mean things I said to my friends in elementary school.
But what if we viewed these events as a mirror that reveals the kind of person we do NOT want to be, which helps us to better define who we DO want to be? Then we can dissolve the guilt and move on, acting in alignment with our desired traits.
4. Realize you’re not alone
In Neale’s words, “Almost any experience can be embraced and tolerated if we imagine we have someone we can share with.”
If you feel like you don’t have anyone, there are countless online communities you can reach out to. Sure, there are lots of trolls and bullies online, but there are also tons of genuinely supportive people, as I’ve found with my writing groups. Plus, most of these communities are quick to boot out trolls.
Also, if you have experienced particularly challenging obstacles, share your story and how you overcame them. Others will take inspiration from this. That’s why we love hearing about how J.K. Rowling rose to Harry Potter fame after being an unemployed single mom on welfare.
But you don’t have to be famous to inspire others. Just knowing that you got swept up by a wave and emerged in one piece is enough to bring solace to others during their darkest hours.
You do not have to take your story public, either. Sharing with even one other person will lift both of you up.
We are social creatures. Even anti-social introverts like me take comfort in community and the presence of others.
The ultimate, though, is arriving at the point where you need nothing and no one on this earth to feel complete.
God/beingness/spirit — whatever you want to call it — is there for you. You can dial in at any time.
But as Neale puts it, “The fastest way to feel the presence of God is to be the source of God’s presence in the life of another.” This means being demanding nothing of others, just as God demands nothing of us.
Of course, relationships operate on reciprocity. If one person is doing all the giving, resentment will build up. But I think what Neale meant is that we shouldn’t depend on others to fill a void or to give us love and approval. Instead, we should be our own source of love and share our love generously with others.
In short, when it feels like nothing is working, maybe it’s time to shift your perspective. Maybe you’ve been focusing on the wrong things.
In Neale’s words, “Life isn’t about get the job/kids/house.” It’s about bringing out what’s already in you. It’s about taking off the masks and revealing your true self for the world to see.
The concepts I touched upon are just the beginning. Explore them and learn how to start applying them to your life on a much deeper level with Neale’s Conversations With God series.
Tell me below: When did you feel like nothing was working? How did you resolve this issue?