Why Feeling Shit Is A Good Thing. Steven Inner Game I am nervous. I am searching. I am purpose-less. I am empty. I am unsatisfied.. These are just some of the feelings I experienced yesterday. My immediate reaction was to suppress them. To ignore them. To drown them out with something else. I tried doing that for a little while. So I decided to have an “easy day”. I had a coffee, bought a car magazine and flipped though its pages. Still feeling empty. I considered getting a beer or two – I knew that would detach me from my internal state – but somehow I also knew that it wasn’t what I should be doing. Instead, I decided to go INTO the emptiness. To become curious about it. To really feel into this emotion. To bring my awareness to it. Not with the purpose of deciphering it, or psycho-analysing it, but just to embrace it as part of me – just like I would if this state as a more pleasant one. As I walked around Potts Point meditating on my own inner emptiness, an old quote from Eckart Tolle popped into mind. “I can’t stand myself”.. Is what he allegedly said just before he reached enlightenment. He realised that if there is an “I” and a “myself” in that sentence, then there must be two of “him”. An observer and the one being observed.. Was I doing the same thing as him? I was meditating on my own inner emptiness. Who was this “I”? And who was feeling empty? A part of me momentarily also thought that I had finally arrived at the doorstep of enlightenment. “Yay, I’m finally enlightened!”.. ..a voice inside my head yelped, and I instantly realised that this was clear evidence that I wasn’t. I continued about my day, aware of this emptiness. For once, not trying to push away this emptiness, but really own it and hold it close. Soak it all up. The first odd thing that happened was that the emptiness loosened up. Its quality changed. Instead of feeling like a black hole in the middle of my chest it began to feel like a calcified shell – a container for something.. It was no longer an “is” but more like a relic of what it used to be, being embraced and held closely by the other “me”. In this space, and in this state, the second thing happened. It was a lucid realisation about what I must do now to transcend this state of being. And it wasn’t a thought, as in, “hey maybe try doing this as an idea”. Rather it was a deeper knowingness which had a quality of “this is my truth, in this moment”.. I realised that the source of my emptiness the way I’m plugged into this world. I have created a comfortable and cushy lifestyle for myself, where everything feels nice. I’m not by any means rich, but I have enough cash flowing to live in a nice place, eat good food and choose when I work.. My weekend bartending gig is largely a place where I go to have a few shots of tequila, banter with customers and get paid wages plus tips for what feels like very little work.. My AI gig, as I’ve written in a recent email to you, is a place where I don’t have to confront myself too much, and contribute to the growth of the company without ever risking looking bad or foolish.. It’s all very cosy, and some of the people I meet tell me that I have a great life .. but I can’t help not feel that this “great life” is feeling increasingly empty. None of those things nurture me any more. Out of this meditative state came a lucid realisation that I must plug myself into this world in such a way that allows me to GIVE something to it – at every point I’m plugged into it. First, I need to get a job which is more than just a paycheck. Enough of “how much money can I get for as little effort as possible?” stuff. I need to create a shift in that part of my life where I just go to get wages, alcohol, tips and attention. I want to go to a workplace with the aim of offering something. Creating something amazing for people. Making a difference. Challenging the status quo That is how far I got as a result of that realisation. Now it was time to put it all into action. If it was a bartending gig, it would have to be at a place where I could not get away with anything less than being extraordinary in how I apply myself to my job. Only one place sprang to mind – Sydney’s Zeta bar. So I got up, drove there and basically demanded a job. I have an interview with them on Thursday. Thing is, I’m not 100% sold on doing more bartending. Sure, working a “proper” bar gig in an amazing venue will tick the “I’m here to offer something” box.. But I feel like satisfying people’s thirst for alcohol is not exactly doing the best I can do for the world at this point in my life. So, I called up an old friend who now works in politics. He was a bit surprised to hear from me, I think. We arranged to have a having dinner with him on Tuesday and will give you an update about it all later in the week. Steven PS Why was I sharing all this, by the way? I feel like this shift only happened because I didn’t reject a part of me that was feeling emotion… Instead, I embraced it, and it told me about the source of the emotion, and what I need to do to move forward. It was counter-intuitive, as from childbirth I felt like I’ve been mostly pre-programmed to move away from “bad” emotions and make myself feel “good” all the time. But that moment of accepting myself wholly and completely allowed me to move forward instead of just keep on repeating the same patterns, over and over again. 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