Learn to Soar Above the Garbage

A friend and I were one day talking about her dream of a vacation spent on African safari. We talked of the animals and the photos she would take, we spoke about meeting people and getting to know the native culture. In the middle of our discussion, another mutual friend approached from down the hall. She overheard some of our conversation so she threw in her two cents which was this, “Africa? Yuck. Who in there right mind would want to travel there? The flight is long, it’s hot and dirty and you can’t drink the water. And they have huge bugs.”

Neither I, or my friend responded for a minute. I think we both just stood there, mouths a bit agape, waiting for a proper response to occur to us. Soon after, the mutual friend left and we both looked at each other and said something to the effect of, “Well, I’d go to Africa.” Then my friend said something I have never forgotten. “We don’t listen to the dream assassins.”

Do you? Do you listen to the dream assassins? Because they are everywhere. And they are not always in the form of socially challenged people with nothing constructive to add to a conversation. Some of the dream assassins I have wrestled with in my own life are: Envy Negativity Comparison Drama Past mistakes Stress Disappointment Fear Judgement

This list is made of garbage. Sometimes it is my own garbage and sometimes it’s someone else’s garbage. If rising above it is the challenge, though, it matters not the source. The key is to not let it hold you down and to overcome self doubt.

In my own experience, the key with nearly all of these is to not overthink them, or dwell on the negative thoughts for too long. If you find yourself being the envious one or comparing yourself to others (and it can be nearly impossible to keep those thoughts from creeping in), but you have got to let it pass. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on it. It will come into your mind, but you can let it go. Don’t entertain it and it won’t stay around long.

If drama and stress are plaguing you, it can be helpful to write down a list of the stressors. Define what is making you feel that way. Are they things you have control over? Are they things that will matter in a week? A month? If the answer to these questions is no, then let it go. Take a deep breath and just let it go. If you can’t control it, then worrying about it isn’t going to make it better anyway. And here’s the thing…everything will work out for your good in the end. I truly believe this. It always does.

What about fear and judgement? We all have fears, and usually they are the only thing standing between us and what we want. Have you seen this sketch?

How true this is! If you want to have experiences that will be worthwhile, sometimes…no, always, you will have to get uncomfortable. Maybe the fear is your clue that you are on the right path. If you think of it that way, fear can be a positive motivator.

As far as judgement is concerned, I only have one bit of advice. Ignore it. Critics are not out there doing the work. Critics are not the ones experiencing the exhilaration and uncertainty of trying something new or bold. Do not give the judgement of others another thought. As long as you are following your gut and staying true to yourself and your path, then just shake it off. (T. Swift!) Do not let it take up space in your mind for one more minute.

We can’t always choose the thoughts that sneak into our minds, but we do get to choose which ones we let set up camp. If fear and doubt creep in, be prepared with a rebuttal. Tell yourself that you are doing something you love and the path you are on is right. Nothing else matters.

If you take a look at my list of garbage, every one of those stinky items are thoughts we can either choose to entertain or not. When they enter your head, watch them come in and then watch them go. It’s just a thought. It only has power if you grant it power.

Originally published at findmeaning.net on May 5, 2015.