Should you believe in your dreams?

Maybe not all of them.

It's important to ask ourselves why exactly are we dreaming?

The motive behind our hopes and dreams can be hidden and more misleading than we often give them credit for.  For example, it’s easy to dream or fantasize when we're lacking self-worth or feeling insignificant, to dream in such a way that our dreams will "save us" from our circumstances and self-limiting beliefs.

Dreams, however, are not meant to be our escape, our savior, or a means to an end for finding internal peace and fulfillment, dreams are meant to be an act of creativity and generosity that flows out of the gift of who we are.

We form our dreams out of what we already have, out of who God made us to be, and what is distinct about our being.

So perhaps the question is not what would you do with your life if money was not a problem? Perhaps the question is what gift would you give to the world from the overflow of who you are if you already had all the praise, attention, wealth, and significance that you desired?

What interesting problem would you help solve in the world?  Where would you contribute and lead? What would you create for us?

From this place alone do I believe dreams flow, and from here and here alone do we live out fully who God made us to be.  

Combating Shame

You can do 9 things right and 1 thing wrong, and shame is so powerful that it's able to take one mistake and, somehow, make you believe you’re a failure.

It only needs 1 bad decision to override 9 good ones.

Its narrative is quick, sharp, and convincing.

For such reasons, it's important to form your own set of truths that are non-negotiable and predetermined so that you can pull them into your consciousness as quickly as you're triggered.

It begs the question: what are your truths about yourself that are premeditated, non-negotiable, and at the ready to be pulled out in a moments notice?

Here is a couple of examples of beliefs to draw from amidst the heavy pulls of shame:

You are stronger than you feel. 

You are doing a better job than you realize. 

You are more loved than you know.

Saying "NO"

When your boss asks you to come in this Saturday on your day off.

“No, sorry. I promised my family that I would spend the day with them.”

When you find yourself impulsively eating snacks for no other reason than to escape what you’re feeling...

“No, I should stop.”

When someone asks you to get coffee on Saturday morning, but it's been a long week and you need time alone to reflect and gather yourself....

“Sorry, I won’t be able to this week."

But... how do you know when it's the right time to say no? 

When saying no to others is difficult for us, it's often a sign that when we were young, we were never taught that our desires, moods, and voice mattered.  And it reveals itself in our inability to stand up for what we want.  But, we did learn that our mom’s opinions and fears mattered... or maybe it was our father's rage or pride. Or maybe it was someone who violated us sexually or verbally without our permission.

The silence that followed our feelings when we were young taught us that our voice, or our "yes" and our "no,” don’t matter.  Our voice was violated.  And crossing such a landscape taught us that our role isn't to form our world, but to get out of the way of it...

And here we are fifteen or thirty years later knowing that something needs to change. We know that if we don't value our moods and opinions, no one will for us.   

Yes, it's painfully difficult and you'll mess up and get pushed over from time to time and forget as you learn to speak up.

But if you don’t start saying no, no one ever will for you.

The three factors that universally lead to stress

According to Dr. Gabor Maté, there are three factors that universally lead to stress for human beings:

1) Uncertainty
2) Lack of information
3) The lack of control

And here are two other bonuses:
* conflict that we're unable to handle
* isolation from emotionally supportive relationships (because isolation actually affects dopamine levels)

All stressors represent the absence of something that we perceive as necessary for survival- or our threatened loss.

So the next time you find yourself stressed, a great question to ask is why?

Maybe it’s all of the reasons listed above... 

If so, now what?

What will you do to find peace?

*Gabor Mate, Scattered: How A.D.D. originates and what you can do 

Testing your desires and dreams

The other day I was walking down the streets of my neighborhood with my wife, looking at properties that would be great opportunities to buy, fix up, and one day sell.  The architecture in the neighborhoods around our apartment downtown are dammed with potential.  I've read books, listened to podcasts, and networked for the past four years trying learn more about real estate investing, so naturally as my my ideas were flowing, I was becoming antsy to take action as we strategized together.

But on our walk home, knowing that the timing wasn't right yet, a question popped into my head that I never thought of before:

“What if I never own an investment property?... What if I never even buy my own house?”

It stopped my longing and restless thoughts in their tracks.

“Well... I guess I would stop and enjoy the rental apartment I have", I thought to myself, "even amidst everything that it lacks."  
And then do my best to do the same for my other rentals that would come.”

I started applying this question to other smaller desires that would pop up throughout the day because I noticed how well it helped me to let go of my angst that was stealing my ability to be present in the home and season I was in now.

"What if I don’t have enough to save for retirement this month, or if I don't leave at exactly the right time to get to work at the appropriate hour, or if I don’t get to read my new book before bed this evening like I'm hoping to?"

"Can I still be happy?  Can I still be present?  Can I still be awake?"

Yeah, they were little, but it's fascinating how quickly the little things can steal away our sense of gratitude.  The question of "What if X never happens?" is a quick way to find out what your happiness is dependent on.   And what is capable of stealing it.  It also forces you to mentally accept the limitations of your current situation and reminds you to enjoy the present more deeply as it is, rather than how you wish it was.

Today was a great example that sometimes happiness isn’t about adding something to your life, but giving something up and accepting life as it is.