I recently re-read the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho which tells the tale of a small shepherd boy who goes on a quest for treasure, which turns into to an adventure in realizing his own "personal legend." The story is filled with metaphor. If you haven't read this book, read it -- it's not super long and see what you connect to.
The very obvious moral of the story is to listen to your heart and have faith when following your dreams.
The shepherd boy uses the following tools to assist him in navigating the "desert" (*the challenges, highs and lows along the way*) to reach his "treasure" (dream; goal; personal legend; contentment*):
HEART - to overcome fear.
SOUL - to never lose hope when faced with challenging times.
FOCUS - used for discipline and disregarding what society wanted for him.
Fear is at the root of staying stuck. We create so many narratives surrounding fear of the unknown that we often remain in what he know, not because it is comfortable but because it is familiar. Facing fear is life-changing, and it doesn't have to me some momentous act. It can be as simple as wearing the outfit you want to wear; dyeing your hair a certain color; singing out loud; or saying no or yes to something regardless of what others will say or think.
When we FACE fear, we embrace change and we create new narratives, rather than staying stuck in our stuckness on believing narrative about the future, that may never happen. This does not mean be reckless in your decisions regarding change - but consider how fear plays a role. Maybe you start by simply asking yourself: "Is the narrative I am creating about change or challenge related to fear? What am I scared of and why?" Another great technique is to try and embrace change with curiosity rather than positivity or negativity. Can you ask yourself, "I WONDER what is going to happen?" Use your heart to face your fears -- this is the first step on your journey to dream achievement!
Recognizing the power (and the how to) in using our soul is a bit more esoteric and seemingly challenging. This is because the soul is not completely measurable (or unbiased, for that matter). The soul contains qualities that are more mystical and met with skepticism. The soul is the home of HOPE and FAITH.
You might first start by asking yourself if you have hope and faith. Good measurements of these two qualities are how you view challenging times in the world. Do you look at suffering and implode with hopelessness? Yeah? Can you change that around? Can you FEEL compassion; but not be hopeless? Can you look at suffering in the world, be sad, but don't stay sad; recognize what you can do in changing the suffering, and then have hope that just as there is suffering and "bad people doing bad things," there is also surrender and acceptance. There are people who are doing beautifully kind things in the world.
This has served me in my work with people. I hold space for people during therapy sessions - and hear about a ton of suffering; but I BELIEVE (that's another soul trait!) that we have the ability to turn our suffering into survival and silver linings.
I know that we recover; we grow; we love again, because I have hope and faith in the good of the world and of people (and no, I am not naïve, I am hopeful; and I am also a social scientist who has seen this very thing for the past 12 years in my patients and myself).
Once you've mastered the shift of perspective in the world, then you can begin to master the shift of perspective in yourself ,and the challenges you face. This isn't to say that some adversity won't be so hard that it pushes us to our knees (that's human; and when life pushes you to your knees, you're in the perfect position to pray) but it's to say that you can heal because once we find acceptance in the suffering of life; we recognize that there is always a way out of pain, over time (time is irrelevant in healing). So along your own dream journey, recognize the mountains and face them; using your soul to overcome and accept.
This one is a bit more societally accepted, but equally over-magnified in terms of importance. "Nothing ever worth having came easy! If you want something good you have to put in hard work!"
Totally true. Not only does focus speak to the obvious -- dedication, perseverance and discipline; but it also speaks to the less obvious; authenticity. All of our dreams look DIFFERENT.
Our family, friends or partners may not understand our WHYS to our dreams. Are you someone who allows what other's want of you to dictate what you want for yourself? Are you living for someone else? Do you want to do, be or say something but afraid because of what other's may think or feel? If the answer is yes, you need more focus. It is important for us to care what other's think (because that builds connection and that is valuable) but we should not care so much that we end up changing who we are for a sense of belonging. Had I remained in what other's wanted for me, I would not be who I am today. I had to disappoint others to not disappoint myself. Van you use your focus to hone in on what you wan?
So ask yourself, what are you dreams -- let them be outrageous and fabulous! Write them down. Can you use your heart, soul and focus to begin your own personal legend? If you're unsure "who you are," maybe begin to invest in therapy, journaling, or yoga so you can begin to unravel yourself in the quest to understand your own personal legend.
I leave you with the two most beautiful quotes from the Alchemist (in my opinion):
"You came so that you could learn about your dreams, " said the old woman. "And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul, it is only you who can understand."
"I saw that everything really was written there before me, and that the doors had only been closed because I hadn't realized that I was the one person in the world with the authority to open them."