There is nothing quite as gratifying as following your dreams. In the beginning when these dreams are brand new, we fantasize about what we might contribute to the world; how others might be better off; and the well-being it could provide for years to come.
However, once we convert our hopes into action and are met with adversity, our first impulse seems to be to condemn the competition. We become self-righteous, and begin to renounce “the haters.” Of course, we say the haters are all these people actively standing in our way, but what we mean (with the exception of a select few) are all the people who have managed to find the success that we hope for ourselves. This quickly declines into unintentional character assassinations, and all of the energy we had to pursue our dream goes up in smoke. Of course, it did. It’s because of all the haters!!
Dream Journeys Impaired by Competition: Hi Haters!
Before you start to criticize yourself for experiencing competition and the pangs of haterdom, give yourself a break. We all want success and fear failure. In the midst of the unknown, we seek motivation and structure. Placing our self in competition with someone else fills us with the desire to be productive, and comparing ourselves to them (albeit in a scathing way) gives us structure.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that to successfully accomplish your dream, you needed to create haters with whom you could compete and from whom you could differentiate yourself. What would your celebrations look like? First, you would have to start by thanking the haters. Ok, that sounds fun. I love the idea of celebrating with a whole bunch of people who do not like you. What is better than that? Then you get to talk about how they define you, um I mean how you define yourself as different from them. Then you get to digest the moment, which seems to be a mix of the bitterness of haters and the deliciousness of accomplishment. Quick question. If ice cream is delicious (like success), how good does it taste when mixed with something bitter (haters)? Sounds gross to me, but I won’t judge you if you want to eat it. What am I, a hater?
Now, let’s look at how that celebration looks for everyone else. They are so happy that you have accomplished your dream and they are benefiting from that goodness, when (surprise) you go on a huge rant about haters and how much you don’t like them. At best, people are puzzled. They don’t want to spend time with haters. Haters aren’t fun. Besides, they are here to celebrate with you. The reality is that nobody wants to give up well being for suffering. Your success = well being for those who love you. Discussion of haters = stress for people who love you.
Do you have the right to be incensed by people, who are legitimately trying to diminish your well being and criticize you for following your dreams. Yes! Definitely be incensed. That is a healthy response, but then give yourself the space to honor that suffering and bring kindness to your experience. This effort towards self-compassion will give you the well being and the unimpaired focus you need to choose new opportunities that further your dreams with the least amount of suffering. Nevertheless, being guided by a structure of competition and haters is fatiguing, and, at best, slows our process towards dream realization.
Dream Journeys Powered by Inspiration
We speed up our journey from Dream Conception to Dream Realization by choosing to see others that have succeeded where we would like to as inspirations instead of competition. You will get a lot further with alliances and idea providers than you ever will with animosity and envy. Inspiration is also a positive feeling state that yields creativity and connection. The more creative you are, the more ideas you will have. The more warmly you are able to share those ideas, the more people will be interested in promoting your cause and helping you find success in it.
If you feel that you desperately need the opposition, my advice to you would be to find a better dream. People who are infinitely passionate about their dreams do not need extra reasons to pursue them, they need reasons to not pursue them. Instead of looking for opposition, they are looking for ways in which they can work on their dream unimpaired because their goals are too lofty to be hamstrung by distractions. If your dream is steeped in well-meaning, the only people that will oppose you are the people who are conflicted about not having their own dreams or those who are too afraid to follow the ones they do have. In both cases, the best you can do is your compassion practice. By which, I mean wishing them well being, hope, and the will to pursue what is most meaningful and important to them.
Some people are afraid of being inspired by others because they believe that they will unintentionally pilfer or plagiarize other people’s content. This is a valid concern, but if come by honestly it is not one that will be too hard to deal with. Apologize, scrap the old content, and give yourself permission to generate some new content. The fact is that people have lived on this planet for so long that most ideas are probably not that new, but it does not mean that they are any less important. Most times, we need to hear the same message from multiple sources to have the opportunity to digest it, and use it to help us better understand our own reality.
The best way to follow an inspiration-powered-dream-journey is to find someone who has had success in the field in which you are interested who many know to be kind and supportive. The more experiences you have meeting kind people already enjoying success with a similar dream, the more likely you will be to develop alliances and seek inspiration over competition.
Fear of others (at least according to social psychology) is almost always reduced or erased completely by contact (e.g., the contact hypothesis). Moreover, after a while of choosing this model, you will begin to offer similar services to others seeking success. In my experience, these actions only yield more success, which will help you understand two important things. First, accept offerings from others to teach yourself that life really does offer abundance. Second, give to others to remind yourself that you possess abundance.
Having a dream is both a blessing and a burden. Having a dream is a blessing because it gives you the opportunity to go on a journey that will help you slowly uncover the layers of yourself, leaving yourself with the steady anchors of self-knowledge, purpose, and good will. You will feel great accomplishment and passion, which will only be magnified by the experiences you have meeting likeminded individuals. Having a dream is a burden because it can be scary and initially too abstract to have the kind of organization that helps us feel focused and on pace to achieve our goals. Likewise, it can make us feel envious of those who have already experienced success in pursuit of their dreams, and fill us with an uncomfortable conflict we come to know as competition.
These feelings of blessings and burdens are all natural. Do yourself the favor of merely accepting them for what they are. Acknowledge that you have a right to these feelings, and a right to make space for them, and bring kindness to them. Once your well being is restored, choose to see others who have succeeded as inspirations and alliances. Set goals to serve in a similar capacity for those whose journeys begin after your own. Relish the thought of being able to experience success without the cost of having to develop a deeper relationship with those who wish you harm (haters).
Above all things, bring self-compassion to your experience. Merely having a dream inspires us all. It also gives us an opportunity to wish you a meaningful, happy life; an honor we are only too happy to oblige. Maybe simply knowing that others want you to have a dream, and wish you a happy life will make having the dream worth having.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 46. In the Books.