The internet is filled with step-by-step guides to help you reach any goal you want.
They tell you how to make yourself rich in five steps or how to become a happier person in seven steps. You can find a 10-step plan to fight depression or a 12-step guide to your spiritual awakening. A life coach gives you six steps to manage your anger or 13 steps to manifest love into your life.
The shelves in the bookstores are filled with self-help books that claim to teach you how to feel better or how to become a better person.
What do they all have in common?
They tell us that there is something not completely right with us the way we are right now and give us the recipe to fix ourselves.
I usually follow these plans when I think that I need to improve myself. When I am giving my “I’m not good enough” thinking mind power over my feelings.
In moments when I listen to my heart, I do not need a step-by-step guide. Why would I? My heart is guiding me. In these moments of trust, I know where I want to go, but I do not need to figure out how. I am the captain of the ship but I am not the wind. In the beauty of uncertainty, the universe is carrying me in the flow of life.
Whenever I do not trust in my ability to guide the ship, I feel the need to follow a step-by-step plan. Whenever I am doubtful of my capacity to write my own story, I believe I need to follow somebody else’s path.
Wouldn’t we all live a much more fulfilled life if we wouldn’t need to follow another person’s footprints, but instead dared to create our own?
So for the sake of following steps, here are eights steps to quit following step-by-step guides. Let’s hope that this will be the last one you need to follow.
Step 1: Stop reading now.
You do not need a step-by-step list created by me. Take pen and paper to draft your own plan or use your spirit to write your own story into the wind.
Step 2: Are you still reading? Do you feel blocked to write your own life story? Have you learned that it is better to obey somebody else than to trust your intuition?
Become aware of your blockages. Dive deep into yourself. There are many ways to do that. Pick one that suits you best: meditation, plant medicine, breath work, artistic expression, journaling. Ask questions and be open to receive answers in a variety of forms.
Step 3: Love the sh*t out of what’s blocking you.
Have you found out what has been blocking you all these years? These blockages never meant to hurt you. You actually created them yourself in the past to save you from hurting.
Do you have an inner critic that does not stop judging? What do you think (s)he needs the most? Certainly not to be judged for judging. The inner critic—just like your other blockages—need love, compassion, and understanding for their reason of existence. Try to find approval for whatever aspects of yourself are holding you back. Try to find reasons for why you are already perfect the way you are right now.
Step 4: Turn on your inner GPS.
Have you ever wished that you could have a precise navigation system that gave you feedback about where you’re headed?
Well, you have it. It’s called emotions. Many of us have been taught that certain emotions are good and others are bad to feel. Instead of listening, we want to get rid of certain negative emotions. But really, our emotions are the response to a situation happening in our lives—an instant feedback about how we feel about something.
Joy is a great indicator that you are on the right track. Anger teaches us that somebody has crossed our personal boundaries. Envy shows us that we perceive a lack in our life. Every emotion leads us to a different realization about ourselves. By learning their true purpose, they become a great ally.
Be aware that sometimes it’s not the situation itself that is causing the negative emotions, but your interpretation of the situation born out of harmful core beliefs. Make sure you observe the emotions, rise above them to understand where they come from, and then love, love, love your inner child that is stuck in a negative belief. We have created these negative beliefs out of a lack of love. When we fill that lack with love, the belief will transform on its own.
Step 5: Listen to your heart.
So you have a gut feeling, a spark of intuition? And then you do not listen to it? Do you believe somebody else knows better what you need? Or don’t you want to be held accountable in case you fail?
Sure, if we follow a step-by-step guide and it does not work out as it was promised, we can blame the author and not take responsibility. But you know what? Failure has been my best teacher. Taking responsibility for my mistakes is the most liberating thing in the world. Think about it: If I have the power to create the mistakes, I also have the power to create the opposite.
Step 6: Listen to your heart.
Yes, again. Because that’s the most important step. Try, fail, repeat.
Step 7: Are you still reading?
Stop listening to me and listen to your heart. You know better what you need than I do.
Step 8: Don’t judge yourself…
…for reading this until the end. And if you want to keep on reading step-by-step guides and self-help books, please do not let my experience stop you from doing what’s right for you. Do what feels true to you! You are perfect the way you are in this moment. Never ever has there been anything wrong with you.
Author: Alice Dea Smeets
Editor: Travis May