If working to fulfill a dream stresses you, filling you with a fear of failure, it is not your dream! If you "need" to fulfill it, not "want" to, it has not risen from your emotional desires. As another's vision for you, it does not meet your needs. And as you judge your worth based on others' approval, you lose the happiness and self-worth your own dream would have brought.
We all have things we are working toward in our lives. We want to get into the right schools, be successful in our careers, find love, be happy. Yet, how do you know whether you are chasing down your own dream are trying to fulfill someone else’s vision for your future?
When a dream we’ve adopted — which did not grow organically — does not align with our needs, our personalities, our abilities, worldview, or personal experience, we know it. Maybe not consciously, but deep down, it starts to wear on us like a psychic chaffing.
But we may not recognize the symptoms at first.
The Signs Of An Adopted Dream
When we are in an environment or are pursuing goals that do not feed us spiritually and meet our emotional needs, we experience stress. This stressful inflammation comes in the form of fear that laces our every decision and action, which then develops into depression or anxiety.
This fear we feel is all too often based in a belief we hold about our self-worth. If we don’t think certain things, behave a certain way, or achieve certain goals set by ones we love and respect or by society at large, we feel that we aren’t a worthy individual. We internalize our value based on outcomes in our lives, on what we have or don’t have, own or don’t own, achieve or don’t achieve.
We fear being considered a failure, even if the failure is in our own heads or in the eyes of one individual we love and respect. To place our value on the approval of our actions and behaviors on outside parties can cause great suffering.
When a goal or dream we are pursuing is based in fear and causes us pain, that is a sign we are not where we need to be.
The Signs Of An Organic Dream
We think of dreams as being a thoroughly American legacy. We dream about our futures when we are young, whether it’s for fame and fortune or is humanitarian in nature. We have dreams for a better, happier life for our children than the life we had. Dreams, in the end, are a desire.
And what is desire other than emotion?
Emotions come from a place deep inside of us, placing our dreams in the seat of our soul. They are truly organic. And because our dreams are based on emotional desires, a successful outcome is the meeting of personal needs — and not the need to please someone else.
There are times it is driven by an emotional and spiritual need to serve others, or to spare others pain, or meet a need for someone else that was not met for us at some point in our lives.
A dream is a desire that is deeply personal. Goals are the steps we take to reach those dreams.
The very nature of dreams for humankind is to pursue something that will make us happy. And if our needs are being met, how does that make us feel? Usually content, happy, supported, loved, appreciated, valued … to feel good about ourselves after our work is done or after our dreams are brought into reality is the real goal behind any truly personal pursuit of the soul.
So when we are focused more on how we want to feel rather than on an outcome and how that outcome will be perceived by others, we have found a dream worth pursuing.
Keep dreaming, ladies.
Is Your Dream Your Own?
Here are a few questions you ought to ask yourself.
- Do I feel good when I think about working toward a certain dream, outcome or goal, or do I feel dread or stressed out?
- Do I feel that if I don’t achieve this dream, outcome, or goal, I will feel like or be perceived as a failure?
- Do I personally find value in this dream/outcome/goal?
- Do I know how I want to feel when I achieve this dream? What needs will this pursuit meet for me personally?
- Am I telling myself I should or need to work toward this dream, outcome, or goal, or do I say I want to?