Steve Perry, the singer, songwriter and advocate of taking a midnight train going anywhere, has repeatedly told us "Don't Stop Believin'".
I've sung (and destroyed) that song by Journey so many time in Karaoke, and man alive is it a good one to belt out at the top of your lungs while a couple of beers into a good night.
But, I gotta say, there have been times I've stopped believing.
There have been times I've stopped believing that I'm good enough to push through an impossibly tough time. Times I've stopped believing that I've got what it takes to bring about what I really, really want (be assured, that's one I've never sung). And times I've stopped believing that I'll get to the good stuff in life.
Even writing this, here and now, my belief that I'll have a happy and healthy life is being challenged.
Sometimes, we all stop believing...
Life will always have something up its sleeve that will fuck you over. Whether you want it or not, whether the time is right or not, and no matter what else you have on your plate, life will sometimes pull the rug out from under you, then set light to it in your front room, and spoon-feed you the ashes.
Just like there are times in life when you're pregnant with self-belief, there are times when you're left naked, cold with the taste of ash in your mouth.
So I don't think it's much use to say don't stop believing, because that's not how this life thing works.
When you stop believing...
The experience of not believing in yourself, or stopping believing in the things that matter to you, sucks.
It just plain sucks.
It makes you question. It makes you doubt. And it makes you struggle.
Question. Doubt. Struggle.
3 things that can transform your experience and strip your confidence to the bone.
But you know what, I think it's okay to question things. It's by questioning yourself, questioning what truly matters, and questioning how you want to experience your life, that you get to grow and get to move through those sucky times.
I even think it's okay to doubt. You can never be 100% certain in life. If you were able to predict everything, it would mean that you're simply doing the same thing over and over again. Everything known. Quantifiable. Safe. No room for possibility. No room for opportunity. No room to take a chance. Yeah, doubting things is a natural result of living fully and richly.
Struggle though. That's a tricky one. And this is where I've always found the biggest lessons.
Every time I think something is a struggle, I spend masses of energy flapping my wings against the bars of the cage I believe I'm trapped in.
Every time my experience is one of struggle, I cast myself as some kind of victim, undeserving of what life has served up to me.
And every time I approach something with struggle in my head, heart and body, I suffer.
Soften the struggle...
Struggle is the problem. Not questioning or doubting.
It's struggle that turns life into something...else. Something unwanted.
The key then, I think, is to soften the struggle. To ease into where you are, not tighten against it.
Arms open. Not fists clenched.
In "Don't Stop Believin'", my almost-namesake Steve Perry also wrote:
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on
It sure does.
This movie will keep on playing. As the protagonist in your story, sometimes you act like a drama queen, which stops you from seeing that you also get to have an extraordinary say in the experience you have.
Yes, sometimes things will suck. But—and this is the thing—just as the scenes in the movie change, so do your beliefs change, and evolve, and grow.
And through all of that, you always have the choice to soften and love where you are, even if it's a place you wouldn't choose.
You have the power to choose ease over struggle. Compassion over judgement. Empathy over resentment.
I wouldn't dare tell you not to feel what you're feeling, or not to face up to what's happening. That serves nobody.
But even when life sucks and even when you stop believing, you still get to choose just how much of a struggle things will be.
This ability to influence how you see the world and your place in it, is quite simply fucking magical.
It's your source, your centre, your power.
Believe in that.