More than two years ago, I was literally broken open by several challenges that happened to me all at once. Each crisis I was experiencing was affecting a different part of my whole.
As you can imagine, this is an astounding thing to have happen to someone.
Because, you see, we are usually taught to believe that a person only has to face one crisis at a time. But here I was, experiencing what it was like to have nearly each part of me in “crisis” mode at the exact same time.
When I look back at older posts, I recall how many of them began with my own attempts at inspiring myself. Some of them were simply acting as ways of processing what I was going through at the time. That’s why so many of them don’t give advice as much send the message: “Hey, life’s hard. But you can get through it.”
When I look back at what I wrote on this blog during that first year, sometimes I get embarrassed.
Let’s just say if I knew that one day this blog was going to reach more than a thousand people, I would have thought twice about sharing so many private details about my life.
I also would have been less inclined to show you my ugly side as well as my pretty side. (I mean, did I really have to tell the world that my hands get so sweaty that sometimes elementary school kids think I have a superpower?)
Despite this, somehow, my willingness to be open with strangers did something I didn’t expect: it made me successful.
Now, how exactly does that happen, you ask?
Well, it appeared that I had stumbled upon a universal law that I never knew existed until then.
When I Had Nothing To Lose…
Back then, when I started this blog, I had nothing. I’ve talked about it many times before, so I won’t get into it here, but I literally was stripped down to the bone.
Back then, I let it all out. I put all my cards on the table. And I wonder if people thought I was crazy for doing so.
But you see, at the time, I felt as if I had lost everything already. I literally had nothing left to lose. So, I figured that, whatever I did, nothing could be as worse as what I had already gone through.
So, for that first year, I literally did whatever I felt like doing, and shared whatever I felt like sharing. Since there was literally nothing left to take away from me, I went forward, and showed you were I bled, and then, went ahead and told you what I did to make the bleeding stop.
And now that most of the bleeding has stopped, I am shocked at how freely I was able to share the deepest part of me with you back in those days.
Now That I Have Everything To Lose…
Things have changed in the last two years.
Now that my success is growing, I’m started to gain things I fear I might lose again, and this is making me more guarded, more hesitant, and more wary of what I share publicly.
When you share so much of yourself with complete strangers, sometimes it feels like utter insanity. Sometimes I have to pretend as if I’m still only writing to my sister in order to get the writing done.
I mean, to think that I have to write something that has to please hundreds (if not thousands) of people is far too much for me to consider.
But if I didn’t believe that something truly transformative and healing happens when we share our stories with each other—I wouldn’t be in this business.
So, that is why, despite my hesitancy, I continue to move forward and keep on sharing—even if any normal person would’ve stopped long ago.
When You Have Nothing Left To Lose, You Only Have Everything To Gain
There is an important lesson we can both learn from the Ollin that you first met two years and a half ago.
That Ollin was literally starting his life from scratch. That Ollin had wiped the slate clean (or rather, the slate had been wiped clean for him). That Ollin had the courage to take a risk—a risk that he had no idea would change his life, and the lives of others, so completely.
That Ollin had nothing to lose, and because he knew he had nothing to lose, he knew he had only everything to gain. And, as a result, a lot of wonderful things came of it.
Believing he had nothing to lose was exactly what made that Ollin so successful (even if he didn’t realize it). And believing you have nothing to lose is exactly what will make you successful (even if you don’t realize it).
So, if you feel as if you have lost everything, can you try to see this as a gift? Can you try to see that now that you have nothing left to lose, you only have everything to gain?
If you haven’t lost anything recently, then ask yourself:
“If I had nothing to lose, what would I finally let myself gain?”
A new relationship? A new job? A new outlook on life? A new spiritual practice? A new exercise routine? A deeper relationship with a family member? A new hobby? A new group of friends? A new marriage? A new apartment? A new home? A new child? A new novel to write? A new story to tell? A new life… to live?
Finally: those who, in the past, had lost everything but now are back on their feet, ask yourself:
“Did I really have nothing then, or had I just gained everything without realizing it?”
Keep That “Nothing To Lose” State of Mind (Even If You Have Everything To Lose)
I have gained so much over the last two years that, today, I can’t say that I have nothing to lose.
But I do know that having a “nothing to lose” state of mind engenders both courage and creativity–and courage and creativity are the essential building blocks of success.
So, even if I feel like I have everything to lose, I must go forward as if I still had nothing to lose. If I don’t do this, I know that my creativity will become stifled—and my courage, weakened. And that situation can only lead to failure.
Goodbye Illusion: Hello Truth!
Why does a “nothing to lose” state of mind work?
Well, it’s only when we’ve lost something that we can truly gain something.
You see, when we feel as if we are losing everything, something wiser than us is working “behind-the-scenes” to unblind us and unbind us from our illusions. It may seem jarring to you, but really, it is quite gentle (gentler than you can ever imagine).
It is the crumbling of the illusion that is causing you the pain–not the truth that is surfacing.
The truth never hurts. The truth only heals, helps, and frees.
In truth, we can be free. In truth, we can be.
But, in illusion, we remain trapped.
To fall into truth, then, the illusion must be torn away from us.
It is unfortunate that sometimes we must lose everything in order to understand this. But, really, it is only the way. We are prone to want to hold on to things, but once there is nothing to hold on to, we can’t help but realize that the only thing we can truly hold on to is something deeper and impenetrable—something undying and eternal that we can hold on to at all times, both during the good and the bad.
That undying and eternal part of us is our spirit. And nothing, no nothing, can ever break that. When we understand that our spirit is our anchor, our captain, and that ever other part of us–our emotions, our thoughts, our bodies, our careers–are there to serve this captain and follow its orders, then we move through life with greater ease, with greater peace, and with greater respect for life.
But without the tearing away, without the losing of everything, we can never know that we had everything to begin with. We can never know that it is our spirit that is the core of who we are, and that nothing can ever tarnish it.
There is great paradox in this statement, that we must lose everything in order to gain everything, but one can’t help but feel the truth in it.
Because somewhere in the Losing, there is a Gaining that we are also experiencing. And in that, there is so much hope. Oh, there is so much hope. So much. So much. So much hope.
The Sunflower and The Desert
by Ollin Morales
A sunflower, who was bright but never bloomed,
and who lived in a beautiful garden
in front of a cream-colored adobe room,
awoke one day to find itself in a vast, lonely desert.
When the sunflower realized that all its sunflower friends were gone,
and that there were no more signs of its old home,
and that it would have to live in the desert for the rest of its life,
(and that eventually it’d dry up, crumble, and vanish)
the sunflower finally broke open and stretched its petals wide.
It did this because
there was no one around to see it
there was no one around to care.
It did this because
it knew it was doomed;
it knew it had nothing left.
It did this because
it knew it was all alone.
That’s why the sunflower opened up,
and finally gave of its pollen freely.
But then a surprising thing happened:
the bees came by and asked to have the sunflower’s pollen
so that they could spread the sunflower’s golden dust across the desert.
The sunflower agreed
there was a boon:
a whole new set of sunflower friends bloomed
all across the desert floor!
And before the sunflower knew it,
it had friends again,
and before the sunflower knew it,
it had its home again,
and before the sunflower knew it—
it closed its petals.
The sunflower closed its petals
so that it could avoid losing its friends
so that it could avoid losing its home
so that it could avoid losing everything it had just gained.
But when the sunflower awoke the next day,
it found itself once again in a vast, lonely desert.
Having lost all that it had gained the day before,
the sunflower wept the dew from its soul.
Unfortunately, this is how the story played out for years and years,
with the sunflower never truly understanding
the lesson the desert was trying to teach it.
[Editor’s note: this post originally featured the song “Goodbye” by Sean Fournier]
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