For me, it would be the feeling of not achieving what I want to. For example, recently I have been cut from [a profession opportunity I was hoping to be a part of], and it really hit me hard. I’m doing a lot better, but I always have a shadow over my head and lurking in my mind that I won’t be able to achieve the professional success that I want in life.
– Anonymous Writer
As always, the goal we’re ultimately seeking is the feeling of fulfillment, of being complete, whole, and happy.
When it comes to professional success, it’s just another trap of the ego. It’s a condition that the ego places upon your happiness and fulfillment. The ego makes a system where it says, “once you achieve X then you will be happy.” It’s always a trick, every time. Because happiness and the fulfillment we seek can only be found in the present. So there’s a tricky thing happening where, when we feel incomplete, unfulfilled, unhappy, and then the ego sets up a path where it promises that once you complete something you will be happy.
Let’s expose some of the ego’s trickery.
Look back on your life and consider all the things you already accomplished – things you thought that once you accomplished would make you feel complete. Honestly ask yourself, in general, if you feel any different from when you did before.
It doesn’t take very much awareness, if you’re really being honest with yourself, to understand that this is a pattern. Accomplishing something, feeling incomplete still, and then moving your focus that one last thing that will finally make you feel accomplished and whole.
Here’s another little nugget that puts a wrench in the ego’s gears: have you ever felt fulfilled, even for a moment, without having accomplished the thing you think you need to accomplish? If that’s the case, then you can bring some doubt around the seemingly solid fact that this professional success is the one and only source of fulfillment.
If you give it a moment, memories might start to come up of times you’ve felt the way you’ve wanted to feel. Happy and whole.
Here’s the truth that the ego is very unwilling to accept: we are all already whole.
“So why don’t I feel whole right now?”
So maybe you don’t feel fulfilled right now. Accept that as a fact, the only real thing you ‘know’. Acknowledge that you don’t really know how to find fulfillment. Everything you’ve tried in the past has failed, so you can’t trust your own thoughts to tell you where to go to find fulfillment.
But there is something you can trust. But first, let’s look into failure. Even though it seems like failure brings you further away from what you’re looking for, it actually brings you closer.
Imagine you were absolutely certain that your favorite candy was in a particular cupboard. You searched endlessly and tirelessly to find it. You kept looking and looking but you couldn’t find it. It might seem like failure is giving up on finding the candy altogether, but actually, failure is more like an invitation to consider other options.
You’re looking for the feeling of fulfillment in the future. It’s not found there.
Persistence would say, keep looking in the cupboard. But it will lead nowhere because the candy isn’t there. Failure would allow you the space to take a step back and re-evaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
So where’s the right cupboard for fulfillment?
In order to find the feeling of fulfillment, we need to unravel and let go of ego thoughts. Fulfillment is underneath ego thoughts.
The ego is a judgment-machine. It synthesizes past learning and knowledge and projects it in the future. If you were born in the west, for example, the egos here might believe money and status leads to fulfillment. This changes across cultures, as other culture’s egos have different values and different conditioning that leads to different views of what fulfillment looks like.
Now, the point of this is that the ego doesn’t really know how to get fulfillment. And if you follow it, you’ll only find disappointment. That’s a good thing because disappointment can be an invitation to switch to a different voice, a different guide.
Think of your mind as like a pipeline through which higher intelligence can flow through. This higher intelligence, Wisdom, guides you directly to fulfillment. It’s already in you. Fulfillment is in your very Being. It’s only your mind that needs to be untangled and restored to happiness.
If you think you know how to get fulfillment, but don’t have it right now, that means you’re still caught up in ego thoughts, which means the pipeline is clogged. For example, if you’re certain you need to get a big house in Hawaii in order to feel fulfilled, that desire you’re holding on and unwilling to let go of is actually clogging the pipeline.
If you accept that you don’t know, that you really don’t know. There’s space for higher wisdom to guide you to where it is actually (always here and now, through a change in thought).
There’s two paths you can follow, although there seems like many more. One path, the path of higher guidance, leads you directly to the fullness of fulfillment, happiness, and wholeness in the present moment. As instantaneously as you’re willing to let go of ego thoughts. The other path leads you in circles. Like chasing a mirage, or running on a treadmill.
Nothing you accomplish in the world will lead to lasting fulfillment, only understanding how you are already fulfilled will lead to lasting fulfillment.
Your Entire Being is Fulfillment
The ego has a picture painted: perhaps the uniform you need to wear, the amount of money you need to have in your bank, the status you need to have, the business that needs to grow to some arbitrary size – perhaps a list of amazing heroic things you need to have accomplished in order to feel happy. The ego has a vision, a condition.
Most of us are told, by others who are unfulfilled and also caught up in the ego, that it’s important to chase that vision – to make it happen no matter what. Even if it hurts, just keep pushing, because there’s fulfillment on the other side. But is there really?
You wouldn’t tell someone thirsty in the middle of the desert to chase a mirage – unless you thought it was real too.
So in order to unwind from the ego’s dream, which leads nowhere, begin to look at your vision as symbols rather than things you need to make happen.
If it’s an accolade you seek, what is an accolade a symbol of? Respect? Admiration? Wholeness? If it’s money, what is money a symbol of? Freedom? Abundance? As you go deeper and deeper, you’ll come to see that everything in the ego’s vision is symbolic of a state of mind.
The ego would have you chasing the symbols in an attempt to achieve the state of mind, whereas the spirit would have you embodying the state of mind directly.
Finding Fulfillment in the Present Moment
We’re beginning to unravel and uncover the truth behind our desires: that underneath it all they symbolize a desire for a state of mind, a feeling, rather than a desire for the symbols.
But how do we find fulfillment in the present moment? Well, the answer is through releasing ego thoughts. Ego thoughts are no more than thoughts we’ve picked up from the world and mistakenly identified with. The wisdom pipeline, the infinite source of creative inspiration and wellbeing inside us, is actually who we really are. It’s our creative spontaneous self that comes out to play when we feel secure and comfortable in ourselves. And so our desire to become someone or achieve something else is actually a distorted desire to express our true nature.
Often times when people really realize this, entire careers fall apart. Not in failure but in celebration, because they’ve realized they didn’t have to struggle to get what they wanted: it was right under their nose the whole time.
We know we are being who we really are when we feel the way we’ve always wanted to feel. That’s the key. And so we need to find that feeling, that state of mind. This is explained well in the happiness part.
If I am happy right now, I won’t do anything with my life!
Quite the opposite actually. If you truly allow the joyful, fulfilled, and happy expression of who you really are to bubble up, you will feel satisfied where you are – true – but you’ll also find yourself feeling creatively inspired. Life still happens, but it happens without struggle, without a future to grasp for as a means to justify suffering, and without insecurity.
For example, side-projects you’ve always loved doing might begin to take up the majority of your time now, because you won’t be ‘seeking’ to do anything but what you truly love to do. In essence though, you probably will find yourself not doing the things you didn’t really like to do in the first place – the things you were doing as a solely means to achieve something in the future.
In my experience, I let go of a career I was really keen on getting (I wanted to be a firefighter). I went through the training and worked in related jobs to build qualifications so that I would be selected. When I understood that I wasn’t really looking to be a firefighter, that the future vision was a mirage, and that the fulfillment I was seeking was something I could live in rather than seek externally, I naturally just dropped it. It didn’t make sense anymore. When I dropped it, other cool ideas and inspirations came to me. These ideas weren’t means-to-an-end (one day I’ll be a firefighter), but joyful in and of themselves. For example, I’ve come to really love editing videos, writing, and traveling – not to be a successful video editor, writer, or travel vlogger, but for the sake of doing it because it’s just so much fun.
It’s the difference between doing things because you think they’ll lead to you somewhere better, versus doing something as an expression of the full satisfaction that life has to offer.
If ever you find yourself seeking for something in the future, that’s the ego talking. You drop the ego, and you find what you’ve been looking for right here and now.