This past week was one of the most challenging weeks that I have endured in quite some time. But as is with most challenging times, there is always an incredibly empowering lesson to be found from the experience.
Up until last week it appeared as though everything was rolling in my life. My organization was growing, my fall schedule was filling up, my book launch was about a month away and bigger opportunities kept coming my way to help more youth across North America. On the outside looking in, life was good. However, it didn’t feel that way to me on the inside. I was not satisfied with all the accomplishments and was not able to celebrate all that was unfolding. This inner stirring slowly caught my attention more and more, and I was forced to finally listen. I decided I needed a weekend away to disconnect from my surroundings and technology so I could focus on uncovering what was causing this stirring within, so I took a mini vacation.
As I was easing my way into “vacation mode,” it took a lot longer than usual for my mind to slow down because it had been so active lately. After meditating, reflecting, connecting with nature and a couple of conversations with my father, I finally uncovered the root cause of all the stirring and to be honest I was actually quite shocked!
One of my greatest fears has always been losing or sacrificing my authenticity and my purpose for the allure of something bigger and brighter. There is this deep rooted unconscious desire that still exists within me, that originated from my childhood, where I would always want to be a part of the “cool” crowd, to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to feel like I belonged and that I mattered.
Right around this time last year I was blessed with an opportunity to write a book for Hay House and one of the greatest things that came from it was being welcomed into a new community and family of other authors and teachers who are doing wonderful things for this world. But what also came from this opportunity was the realization that my message would reach a much larger audience and I would even be viewed as an “expert”. My ego really liked this part.
As time progressed my mindset began to shift. I started feeding my ego instead of my spirit. I expected things to show up and doors to open. No matter what I achieved or accomplished I didn’t allow myself to stop and celebrate, and moved immediately on to what was next. I also spent more of my time hanging out with fellow leaders and innovators, and even developed relationships based on size of platform and network.
The most challenging part of all was that all of this was being done unconsciously. I was convinced that the driving force behind all that I was doing was to create more positive change for the world. I didn’t recognize that I had quietly begun desiring the significance, validation and recognition. And when I didn’t get it, or someone else got it instead of me, I would get angry and frustrated. My greatest fear had become a reality and it wasn’t until recently that I was finally able to fully recognize it.
Once I was finally able to accept what had happened, with the help of a good coaching session from my father, I began to shift back to a place of purpose and was reminded of an extremely important lesson.
We are all human and we can’t avoid our ego, as that is part of the human experience no matter how evolved or enlightened we think we become. The way I see it there are two ways we can live our lives: driven by ego or inspired by purpose.
When we live from a place of ego, we make significance and certainty our greatest values. We are driven by external forms of validation and immediate gratification, and have very little sight of the “bigger picture”. This often leads to an always striving and never arriving way of life. We never are truly satisfied and fulfilled if we live ego driven lives.
On the flip side we have a choice to live a purpose-FULL life instead. When we live our lives from purpose, we are more focused on service, contribution and growth. Every decision we make and action we take is aligned with serving ourselves and others at the highest potential. We are more focused on our own internal growth than the growth of our bank accounts or social status. There is seldom focus on external accomplishments as our value is determined from within. And there is much less striving to get to a specific destination because we realize that by being ourselves, we have already arrived.
What I have come to integrate on a much deeper level this past week is the notion that it is not possible to live a life that is 100% percent driven by either ego or purpose. Instead we will constantly shift from one to the other. I believe that finding a perfect balance between both and living in that balanced state cannot be sustained. So our focus constantly needs to be on re-balancing and it is our self-awareness that grants us the ability to determine whether we are living from ego or from purpose.
The best part about being human is free CHOICE. We always have the power to choose in each and every moment what the driving force of our lives will be. The more aware we are – the more empowered we become and the better our choices will be.
The choice is always ours. Do you want to be inspired by purpose or driven from ego?
I choose to live from purpose. And although I acknowledge that I will continue to have times (sometimes longer periods than others) when I am driven from ego, deep down I know that the stronger my self-awareness becomes, the more purpose-FULL my life will be.
What do YOU choose?
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Michael Eisen is the founder of the Youth Wellness Network, an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth across the globe to live happier and more positive lives. Michael’s new book Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living, co-authored with his father, is available everywhere books are sold October 1st. To learn more about Michael and the Youth Wellness Network, visit: www.youthwellnessnetwork.ca, connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter: @youthwellnet