We use the word to curse, to blame, to find guilt, to destroy. Of course, we also use it in the right way, but not too often. Mostly we use the word to spread our personal poison – to express anger, jealousy, envy, and hate. The word is pure magic – the most powerful gift we have as humans – and we use it against ourselves.Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements
The power of words. According to Brené Brown, language is what allows us to tap into our emotions, and words are the building blocks that shape and give meaning to what we experience as human beings. Words can heal, and words can also destroy. Back in 2017, when I started this blog, I was just coming through a difficult realization. I saw that my decisions had been made out of fear and led me to unhappiness. I was living based on rationality and logic, pursuing an international career in academia while ignoring my dreams of writing, and the need to explore difficult questions. What are we doing here? Why do we look like rats in a cage? Are we alive, or are we pretending to live?
I felt really anguished at that time and yet, at some point, I reminded myself of the questions I had to make to leave such a dark place. What makes me happy? What brings me joy? What do I really love to do? I knew that if I could answer these questions, I would find a way to feel whole again, and overcome the disconnection I was feeling and being haunted by. The disconnection was the fruit of living a life based not on my dreams, talents, and potential, but on what was socially more acceptable and reasonable. The reasonable way seemed to be to buckle up and press forward. It felt wrong deep inside me, but there was no one around to validate my inner vision – and that was my big mistake.
I knew I didn’t fit in, but I presumed I had to keep on trying. The world kept me thinking there was no place for dreamers and wanderers. Books told me otherwise, but then there was reality. I tried to compromise and turned back to writing, which was my happiest place. To write was to go within and dissect what was going on. It was my source of meditation because my writing was close to automatic. I would stare at a blank screen, feel my heart, and then let my fingers do the work. That’s how I found my well-being, and that’s how I started blogging more consistently. The more I wrote and shared my existential quests with others, the more I could understand myself. In the process, I met people with similar experiences, and, when you find yourself on a path less traveled, it’s very rewarding when you find fellow travelers along the way.
Writing became my portal to find resonance and, through that portal, I began to make other changes in my life. I noticed it was up to me to create and shape the world I wished I could live in. I didn’t have to put my ideas and aspirations in a bag. They were not that outrageous and there were people who also wanted to live in a world where reason and emotion meet to provide a more balanced life. It was not silly to want to slow down and craft a different lifestyle. I was not ridiculous for being different and wanting different experiences in my life. These ideas started to boil, and they set me on a path toward moving from survival to thriving.
My writing grew, and so did my audience. I never wrote for numbers, because the real magic was when someone would say my words had resonated and provided some dose of healing. I was first and foremost writing to understand myself better but, through that process, I was also providing a healing space for others, and that’s when I saw, once again, that words have power. The more I wrote, the more I reflected. The more I reflected, the more I healed. The more I healed, the more aligned my decisions were, and it was nice to share the journey with my audience.
I went from what my supervisor called a star-rising mindfulness researcher to a Ph.D. dropout. I swapped a well-paid job as an assistant lecturer in a luxurious university for a low-paid job as a school monitor in a toxic school. I left England and moved back to Portugal. I became happier with each decision I took toward living a life more aligned with who I am. I knew writing and teaching about what I loved the most, the human experience, was deeply carved in my destiny from an early age and it was time to take a leap of faith.
Then the last two years happened. The world confirmed every premise ever written in a social psychology textbook, and my life got to a halt. I didn’t give in to the same fears people around me were choosing to face, but I did let fear rule my life and my decisions. I realized my words could heal others but also hurt those close to me, or even be turned into weapons to hurt me. When you write and share about existential matters, and you bring forward examples of your own journey, you will likely hurt people, so I began limiting myself to more informative blogs.
I didn’t come back to the beginning, because I now know more about myself and what makes me happy, but I have experienced a sort of disconnection from myself, and my well-being has suffered. While writing these words, I now realize I had another important lesson waiting for me. Although I knew my inner vision was shared by some, I hadn’t fully grasped that you can’t live your life waiting on the external world to back you up. You can’t wait on external validation to feel confident or comfortable about the path you know in your gut that is yours to take.
You can’t choose to live in fear and expect to achieve great lengths in your happiness and well-being journey. You can’t wait on other people to reassure you of who you are or to let you know what, when, and how you should go about meeting your personal legend. My calling is to write about human existence and share it with others. That gives me a reason to wake up excited about life, so why on earth would anyone give up on that? Only because of fear! Fear of hurting others, fear of being rejected, fear of being hurt!
So many fears. No human being can be whole by choosing to live in fear. Fear splits us. I’ve done a disservice to you and myself by living in fear for my own words. My words are my journey and my journey is part of my identity. I’m now choosing to live by the first agreement stated in the book The Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word. This means I will allow myself to use my words again, assuming the responsibility that comes with it, and I will also do my best to have them guided by truth and love. Great responsibility comes when we use our words, but so does great liberation. Thank you for reading my words.
realistic goal and a desirable one. It is rather impossible to be happy all the time, of course, and it is rather difficult to be in a pure state of bliss on a regular basis. However, we can aim to develop skills and strategies that enhance our level of consciousness.