Buenos Aires, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Yesterday I was talking to a tall blonde woman from the US during an ‘asado’ that my friend Pim got invited to. Asado is Argentinian for BBQ. The vibe was amazing: 30-40 young people having fun on a Sunday night while drinking wine and eating grilled meat and salad on a roof terrace in Buenos Aires. A beautiful celebration of life and friendship it was.
My conversation partner was interested in my work and my journey. After a couple of stories it probably dawned on her that my life is not a long chain of incredible success stories and that plenty of painful or difficult things happen and have happened to me. She asked me if she could ask me a possibly inappropriate or unkind question. I said yes.
She asked me if I ever felt like a fraud. If I claim to be a life coach that helps people with difficult decisions or phases in life shouldn’t I be better at it? Well, she didn’t really say it like that but she did ask if I felt like a fraud.
I like to answer that question again. I don’t feel like I am fraud but I often doubt if I have something to offer. At the same time I realize that this doubt is also part of me and that the doubt comes and goes. I might even feel like a fraud now and then. My thinking mind, the voice in my head, tells me many stories about me being not good enough, inadequate, inferior and ugly. At the same time that same mind is constantly looking for evidence or trying to create evidence that prove the opposite. There is a steady flow of concerns about appearance, income, appreciation, validation and confirmation. But what I have learned is that when I am honest about it magic happens. Not only do I liberate myself, sharing my truth also helps others to see and feel their own truth. And I got pretty good at observing, discerning and disclosing everything that is going on inside.
For a long time my ego had a tendency to inflate. I wanted to be better than others and if I succeeded (or convinced myself I succeeded) I would feel all chuffed with myself. That has changed. I am now more aware of the underlying patterns: how I try to overcompensate fear and how I create behavior that makes me feel safe. So I am not so proud of that inflated version of me anymore but on good days I can find it entertaining and quite harmless if not taken too seriously. Actually, nowadays I should be aware of not being too harsh and negative of myself. For me this is the art and the point: to be honest about and at peace with all the facets of the diamond we are. We might have facets that seem quite artificial and others that seem really profound: embracing all of them is the only wise thing we can do.
This morning I woke up on the couch of my hostel. Due to miscommunication there was no bed for me last night. I came in late and since I slept in the ‘living room’ of the other guests I had to get up early. I did not get much sleep. I opened my email and got some bad news. Commenters on The Good Man Project accused me of many nasty things, my travel agent did not reserve my flight to Hong Kong although I paid for my ticket last week, I got slapped on the wrist for inviting people I initially was thrilled to invite (HR people from Hong Kong who I was hoping to help but in their eyes I am a ‘third party vendor’). It felt awful. I felt shame, doubt, fear and despair. I really don’t know what to do more and I really don’t know what to do if I fail. More than a handful of people in the USA and Hong Kong seem to despise me for what I say and how I act. It feels terrible.
It takes me a while before I bounce back from a morning like this one. It takes me 12 hours of practicing my own law of being resilient: “A man should be flexible and reliable at the same time. If necessary he can start all over again at any given moment. Whatever happens; his house was burnt down, his crop failed, he lost his job, his wife had a miscarriage: even if he has mourning to do he starts all over again. A real man accepts his fate but doesn’t become a victim of it”
Fortunately I also had 2 very nice emails. Also I took a look inside and the answer is both refreshing and disturbing: my inner being doesn’t really care about my failure or success. It is all good. It is not what defines me. I can feel it. And at the same time the knot in my stomach does not go away.
By now it is 9 pm and I have come back to my old mantra: I can only do my best. Yesterday I heard about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visiting Buenos Aires and 150.000 people meditating together in a park. I have a hard time finding 10 participants. It is my reality. In a way I don’t understand it. But I accept it. And that acceptance gives me a sense of peace.