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JoshuaBillings.com

Comfort Is Killing Us

I. Get off. On challenge.

I don’t think it’s comfort that I crave.

Comfort is what I want to escape.

Comfort for the sake of comfort was never my value.

Comfort in the face of extremes?

When comfort is a given, homeostasis is a given. There’s nothing to work toward.

I don’t practice escapism because life is hard. I practice escapism because modern life is too easy.

My ancient ancestors never had the luxury of living a life so far removed from death that survival was an afterthought. They were hardwired for survival. Comfort felt like cheating death.

I too am hardwired for survival. But comfort no longer feels like cheating death. It feels like cheating myself.

Cheating myself out of playing the game of life.

So I subconsciously try to recreate survival threats.

I do it subconsciously because to actually choose to risk my life would be crazy.

My ancient tribemates would have left me for dead or killed me themselves if I went thrill seeking with sabre-toothed tigers one too many times.

But humankind has evolved past sabre-toothed tigers.

Humankind has evolved past every threat except the one we pose to ourselves.

We have become paper tigers, bereft of purpose.

Deprived of our most fundamental drive.

The drive to survive.

We find new ways to die.

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I hide.

I hide.

I hide because it feels safer than being seen.

Because I haven’t fully matured past a stage in my life when I was truly dependent on others. When their opinions of me made the difference between being a good boy who was rewarded and praised, or a bad boy who was restricted and punished.

The world only sees a fraction of the beauty I can offer, because I have mistaken my beauty for badness.

I hide because I’m afraid if I show you my beauty, you will confirm that I’m bad.

The hope that I’ve continually bet my future on is that I can somehow figure myself out, fix whatever is broken inside me, and finally be worthy of being here… just the way I am.

But now…

I share.

I share because there’s music inside of me that wants to be played.

Because the act of preserving the innocence of this beautiful little boy inside me has become synonymous with squelching him. And I don’t want to die with my music still on mute.

🔇🔈🔉🔊

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Problem: I find it hard to write. It’s not fun and it rarely feels worth it to torture myself in the writing process only to put out mediocre work.

Desire: I want to fall in love with writing. I want to love every second we spend together. I want the act of writing to feel nurturing. I want the opportunity to express myself and my ideas to feel exciting.

Problem: Writing is hard because I haven’t taken the time to make it fun. I find it hard to love anything that appears less than perfect.

Desire: I want to make writing fun. I want to learn to love less than perfect.

Problem: Loving less than perfect seems hard. It seems like times when I’ve been less than perfect have led to great pain and shame. And so I am trying to be perfect so that I can avoid that.

Desire: I want to understand the gift I received from past instances of pain of shame.

Problem: They don’t feel like gifts. They feel like burdens. Like me being less than perfect is a burden. Anything that opens me up to criticism shines a light on my unhealed self. Why am I not healed? Why am I not perfect? Why am I not the way I need to be in order for humans to love me?

Desire: I want to be loved. I want to lead the conversation when it comes to loving myself. There are many things I can find a way to love about myself. I can make this a problem of acceptance, not a problem of worthiness.

Problem: I am taking past experiences personally. I am measuring myself against what I think I should be. I am not accepting myself as I am. I am not standing up for myself as I am. I am pushing against anyone who sees me in a light that I find it hard to love.

Desire: I want to let the past serve me from the past. I want to let the present serve me in the now. I want to accept myself for what I am. I want to accept myself for what I’m not. I don’t have to be everything to experience everything I want!

Problem: It appears as though other people sometimes act as gatekeepers to what I want. I try to conform to “supposed to’s” and “shoulds” because I want to be granted access to the joy that comes in connecting lovingly with other human beings. I find it hard to believe that people will love me unconditionally, so it’s easy to believe that I have to be a certain way to be loved.

Desire: I want to free people from the expectation that they should love me unconditionally. I want to see my job as being unconditionally accepting of myself and others. Love follows acceptance. If I am unconditionally accepting, I will experience unconditional love.

Higher Framework: Writing is an invitation. An opportunity for acceptance. Putting ideas into text gives them the opportunity to spread. If I am focused on what I want, I’m more likely to spread what I want. If I’m spreading what I want, I’m more likely to enjoy the act of writing.

Higher Desire: Writing mobilizes ideas, and I have the freedom to mobilize what I want. I want to give my desires legs. I want to give them the freedom to manifest themselves. I want to be excited to hit “publish” and see what happens next!

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Money, Sex, and Satisfaction

The relationship I want to have with money is like the relationship I want to have sex. A feeling of, “I find this anywhere, so it’s not really that special.” What’s more important to me than the money is the meaning. I want deep meaningful sex, and deep meaningful ways of making money.

It’s almost like money and sex don’t matter. What really matters is how much I love myself; that’s what determines how satisfied I truly am. Money and sex are merely ways I express myself. Creating a space for authentic self-expression, and meeting my authentic self with love, is what makes my relationship with money and sex satisfying.

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Growth, Interrupted (Poem)

Why must I search so hard for fault,
as things with us come to a halt?
Choked up like an old boat motor,
weeds entangled in its rotor.
Forgetting what drew me to you,
when smooth sailing was all we knew.

Love, bogged down, reveals itself: harsh.
Hope: sinks — lost — in this murky marsh
of doubt, fear, and uncertainty.
Supplanting what you saw in me;
like weeds I couldn’t stop feeding,
that sapped the true growth I was needing.

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To Thine Own Self, Shine Through

If you woke up tomorrow to discover your entire life was just a simulation and everything you’ve ever known never really existed, who would you be? No past. Unknowable future. Everything you’ve ever worked for only matters to the degree that it’s shaped who you are now.

But then the system reboots. Everything is back to normal. Except it’s not. Because for a second you had everything taken from you, and you saw your true self naked for the first time.

You’ll probably go about your life and be the person your world expects of you once more. But when you close your eyes before bed, you’ll see yourself back there again. In that timeless void that would feel totally empty were it not brimming with infinite light. And surrounded in that radiance, as it reflects back your inner beauty, you’ll fall in love with yourself as you truly are.

It’s morning now. Open your eyes. And feel the impulse to let your true self shine through.

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The Crime of Untapped Potential

Sometimes I feel distant from the world. Like the gap between who I’m being and who I want to be is so great that I don’t want there to be any witnesses to this crime of untapped potential. So I hold back, obscuring my imperfections and shortcomings behind a veil of silence.

On the surface, reversing this trend seems like a question of discipline. There are a million things I could do to improve, it’s just a matter of doing them. But nobody grows from the crack of a whip. You don’t ready yourself for change by hardening yourself where you are. Nor can you simply stretch a seedling into a full grown tree. You can only give something what it needs to thrive, or not.

Untapped potential is not an artifact of being under-disciplined, it’s an artifact of being under-loved. It is the result of not loving yourself where you are (sapping yourself of the sunlight and water that fuels your growth) until your current self feels so alien from your desired self that you no longer believe in your ability to close the gap between the two.

The crime of untapped potential is not a daring heist gone awry, but a habit of focusing on the things you are not, instead of leveraging the things you already are.

I may not be ready to write a best-selling book, or even the perfect ending to this little blurb; but I can focus on something that matters to me, look at it in a new light, and share what I see. And maybe, just maybe, let that be enough for today; sowing the seeds of self-love along the way.

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I’ve been inviting fear in at the slightest hint of negative emotion lately, and it’s consistently lifted me into a better feeling place. Sometimes when I invite fear in, it tells me it’s name. “You’re afraid of not being good enough.” Or, “You’re looking at this in a way that’s untrue.” Other times, it has no name. Instead of words coming to mind, I just get an instant feeling of relief. Almost as if I called fear in to consult with me and it just gives me a thumbs up and told me “nothing to worry about here, you’ve got this.”

[continue reading…]

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When most people think of overcoming fear they think of forcing themselves into scary situations. But what if there was a softer, gentler way to let go of the fears that are holding you back? What if you could think of fear as something you have a relationship with, and instead of trying to get rid of it, you discovered a way to get something invaluable out of your time together?

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As I was standing in line I noticed the words
“Brewed fresh daily” followed by a proverb
What were they brewing, coffee or faith?
What was I doing with my time while I wait?
Standing around like I’d rather be elsewhere
In line for a fix like I’m on energy welfare
[continue reading…]

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