Don’t You Dare Unhamster

follow your dreams and see what happens

Who makes the wheel turn so fast it makes us burn out?

Not everyone is frustrated about not having followed their dreams. I know a number of wonderful people that live the ‘normal life’ of doing some kind of job that pays their bills, raising their kids and going on a vacation every now and then. The job is not a dream job, but they appreciate what it does for them. They appreciate the sense of security it provides them – the security of blending in, of regular pay checks, a cozy family and the comfort of little rewards to enjoy. They are self-aware. Their need for security and comfort is a priority in their lives and they accept and own the decisions they have made. When they meet someone who broke out of hamsterwheel world, they are full of genuine curiosity and interest, and they are fully supportive.

A different story

Others have always wanted to do ‘something else’. Secretly or known to others. They wanted to build their own business, travel the world, become a professional football player, a full-time mom or dad or write a bestseller. But they never did it. In fact, they never even tried to follow their dream. The fear was too great. The fear of standing out, of failure, of ‘not making it’.  So, they stuck to the ‘should’ and never did what they must.

Their low level of self-awareness and consciousness does not allow them to face their fears nor accept them. They resent their fear. They resent the fact that they never tried to break out and live their dreams. Of course, resenting yourself for not trying becomes unbearable at some point, especially, because you’d have to face your failure to try over and over again. After all, you could still try, couldn’t you? So, an alternative to the constant internal conflict is to project and externalize. In other words: blame the world.

Surely, they would have tried and even succeeded, if only… they had had more money, more support, grown up in California or New York, not gotten sick that day of the selection exam, been given the opportunity.

Alternatively, they justify their decision before themselves (and others) by creating an image of superior responsibility. Of course, they’d be traveling the world or writing a book, but they have a family to sustain, a parent to care for, a dog, a needy pot plant, mortgage payments, the family business or the boss they can’t let down. They have responsibility!

What does this have to do with your dreams?

A lot more than you may think. This is the fourth article in my series on the research on all that sticky mental clutter that keeps us from moving on or being more confident in pursuing our dream. Some of the responses I received mentioned the pain of receiving no or little support from their close ones or, even worse, outright rejection and resistance.

How can a family member possibly tell you that you are not going to make it? How could anyone close to you possibly say anything so demotivating?

This is how: the moment you unhamster, the moment you step out of the hamster wheel, dare to leave the great masses and follow your dreams, you brutally kick down their carefully constructed scaffolding that held their excuses together for never following their dreams. You may not know that. In fact, you may even be totally unaware that they had such a dream in the first place. And they may have forgotten about it, too. Until you came and happily announced you are going to create your own business. Write your book. Do that documentary.

Depending on their level of unconsciousness, the reaction will be more or less aggressive. It may come disguised as concern, as wanting your best, wanting to protect you. When that fails, your loved ones can turn pretty unloving. “Congratulations, you’re destroying the family,” is a notable statement a friend of mine heard when he decided to spend to years working in Africa. Thankfully, it did not keep him from going. But it hurt. Of course it hurt; that’s what it was supposed to do.

It is supposed to hurt you as much as they hurt. And they hurt so much, precisely, because you are so close to them. Anyone else pursuing their dream would be far enough away to maintain their story of why it is impossible for them to leave the mainstream. But not you. You are too close.

A little history of tantrums

If you have children or even if you don’t, you may have had the priviledge to observe a toddler’s tantrum. It usually begins with whining and pleading. If the parents remain firm in their position, though – and sometimes they have to – there is no limit to the depth of tantrum. “I hate daddy and mummy,” in all its verbal and physical expressions is a regular. Not every parent will necessarily experience the whole spectrum. It all depends on the temperament of the child and how much trust the child has in her parents (counterintuitively, the bigger the trust, the worse the tantrums).

The point to make is that none of this has to do with love or the lack thereof. It is all about pain. A day after her most recent outburst, I asked second born what had come over her that made her lose it. “A monster,” she said. How did it feel? Very bad. How big was it? Up to the roof! She intuitively accepted that ‘it’ was something outside her own self. And it was much bigger than her. Eckhart Tolle calls it the pain body. That is what she expressed. When she hollered “I hate mummy and daddy,” what she told us was “Please feel how much pain I feel right now. It’s up to the roof!”

Adults and children

Now, it is much easier to see and understand this behavior in small children (okay, not necessarily when it’s happening). It is much harder, though, to see and understand this behavior in adults. However, adults with a very low level of self-awareness or consciousness frequently show the very same behavior that small children do. Including tantrums.

So, when you come in and announce that you’ve quit your job to fully focus on your own business or you have signed up for the marathon program, they may not throw themselves on the floor and scream “I poopoo on you.” Instead, they’ll tell you that you’ll never succeed. Or anything else that can hurt you.

Understand this, my friends: This has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your dreams. If you want to follow me on a higher awareness level, it doesn’t even have anything to do with them. This is all about their pain. It is their pain body wanting to rouse and feed on yours.

But should our loved ones not support us? Should they not wish to never hurt us? (Remember the Identity Crisis and the shoulds) They can’t. They cannot do it any more than the four year old can sit down and say: “I guess, I’m just really exhausted, because there was a lot going on today at my birthday. And I don’t actually want to eat another pot of ice cream in my ballet costume now, but I’m too wired to sleep right away.” So, they poopoo on us.

For us, this means only one thing: Forget about the should and do what we must. Forgive. So that our pain does not grow and we can move on stronger and lighter.


Thanks a lot to all respondents who so openly talked about their painful experiences!

I also want to share two excellent resources on this topic:

Steven Pressfield’s brilliant article on collectively enforced mediocrity.

Leon Lionni’s children’s book “Frederick” is a beautifully illustrated story about the mouse that doesn’t engage in the collective food hunt. Is he just lazy as his family members think he is?

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