There’s one thing we visionaries do time and time again — one thing that totally and completely screws us up.
It causes us to doubt ourselves, to feel “not good enough” and “too much.” It causes us to get confused about what will make us successful or happy. It causes us to stop trusting ourselves.
If there’s one thing we could change that would single-handedly transform our lives, it’d be this.
We need to stop mistaking the container for the essence.
See, a container is the vehicle that gets us where we want to go. The “what,” so to speak. But the essence is the “why.” It’s the purpose of it all.
Look, I drink a lot of water out of Mason jars. But, theoretically, you could give me any other container you want — a mug, a cup, glass, plastic, whatever. Because what I really want is the water. That’s the essence. The container is just a vehicle I use to access it.
If you gave me an empty Mason jar without any water, I probably wouldn’t be too satiated.
Obvious enough, right?
But what about when it comes to a job? Or a relationship? Or pretty much any other area of our lives?
A job — even the most amazing job in the world — is just a container. We’re wanting it to feel something specific. Maybe it’s to feel Connected or Impactful or Seen or Successful.
If our job doesn’t make us feel that essence, we’ll never be satiated. No matter how hard we try.
But the crazy thing is that, alternatively, we don’t need that specific job to feel Connected or Impactful or Seen or Successful. There are millions of ways we can experience that once we know the essence we want to feel.
It’s taking our power back. Away from the arbitrary containers of our lives and back into our ability to choose the things that make us feel purposeful. The things that speak to our own essence, our own genius, our own life purpose.
The thing about the word ‘purpose’ is it means “why.” It doesn’t mean “what.”
Your purpose isn’t that you’re meant to be a writer. It’s why being a writer feels so impactful for you. Your purpose isn’t that you’re meant to be with this person. It’s why this relationship feels so special to you.
And it’s the same reason that this job felt good to you and that one didn’t. It’s the same reason why that marketing effort was a huge success but this one wasn’t.
It’s the same reason why certain things feel purposeful and just seem to work out, while others have been challenging and traumatic.
We visionaries mistake the container for the essence all the time. We think that if we just get that job or that amount of money or that relationship, then we’ll be happy.
And maybe that’s true. But maybe it’s not. It depends what essence is inside.
It’s kind of like picking up arbitrary bottles and hoping one of them has water inside. We might get lucky. But a way easier way is to just start with the water and find a bottle that can hold it.
And every visionary I know has had a hard time being held. We’re always told that we’re “too much” and “not enough” for the containers in our lives.
That we’re “too sensitive” or “too emotional” or “too intense.” That we’re “not good enough” or “successful enough” or “smart enough.”
And, if we keep mistaking the container for the essence, we’ll think that means that we’re wrong and broken. Believe me, I’ve done it for my entire life.
But if we know the difference between essence and container, then what they’re really saying is, “You’re too much for me to handle in this container.”
They’re telling me it’s the wrong container. And I can go off and find a job or relationship or whatever that fits me.
Because I’m not wrong. I’m just an essence in the wrong container.
Think about it: If I had a gallon of water, and I tried to pour it into my little cup, and it spilled all over the floor, I wouldn’t shame the water for being “too much.”
I’d get a bigger container to hold it.
We just need to know our essence. And then find the spaces, jobs, relationships, friendships, and life that can hold that.
And any time something isn’t working for us, we can stop shaming ourselves and beating ourselves up.
We can remind ourselves that it’s just not the right container.
We’re not wrong or “too demanding” or “high-maintenance” because we’re unhappy in this job. It’s just the wrong container.
We’re not broken or screwed up because we haven’t sold lots of our art or services. It’s just the wrong container.
Maybe it’s the wrong offering. Or marketing plan. Or platform. I don’t know. But your essence — your genius — will give you a clear indication of what’s not being held.
We have a saying in my work — one that’s powerful when we’re starting to doubt ourselves:
“It’s not me; it’s the fucking container.”
And now we’re empowered to start making changes in our lives.
Maybe our thought patterns or beliefs aren’t holding us. Maybe we’re trying to force a fit in our relationship. Maybe we’re toning ourselves down or trying to prove ourselves in a job.
But, once we know our essence, it’s as easy as choosing the container that can best hold it.
Every single person deserves to know their essence, what we in our work call ‘Brand Energies.’ Because it’s a distillation of every skill, ability, gift, yearning, desire, trauma, sensitivity, and experience.
Our essence is who we really are on the inside — what some people call ‘unique genius’ or ‘life purpose.’
It’s the ‘why’ behind all of our ‘whats.’ It’s a radically different way to think about life purpose. A way to drop the shame and start taking empowered action to consciously create our lives.
So that we can stop mistaking the container for the essence. And go make the impact we were born to make.
*If you want to discover your own essence and ‘Brand Energies,’ you’re welcome to explore our proprietary Sacred Branding® methodology.
This article was originally published on mikeiamele.com.