What would you do if someone told you to BURN the thing that is most precious to you – the thing that makes you feel most seen? In this episode, entrepreneur Jesse van der Velde intimately shares how he learned the true nature of recognition through hard lessons & how these discoveries can transform your life and happiness.
- What do attachments say about identity?
- What does recognition mean to you?
- Why do you still feel unfulfilled despite your achievements?
What would you do if someone told you to BURN the thing that is most precious to you – the thing that makes you feel most seen? In this episode, I will share how I learned the true nature of recognition through hard lessons, as well as how these discoveries could transform your life and happiness.
Recognition as a Motivator
The need to feel seen – it can be one of the greatest drivers of success yet also our greatest limitation to living a fulfilled life.
For many years, recognition was my main driver to success without me knowing. I was striving to be seen after having lived 20 years of not being seen. I wanted to be successful so I could be seen as successful in the eyes of others. I wanted to drive a Porsche; I wanted to build a big business; I wanted to be able to talk about my success. I wanted to be a #1 Best Selling Author – and I achieved all of those things.
However, despite my success – I was still restless.
Every day, I was still dreaming of bigger goals, working harder, and finding ways to increase productivity.
So my desire to be successful was, admittedly, a great driver to my success – it was a great motivator. It was a great motivator for productivity and getting my ass to work every day.
Recognition Leading to Restlessness
But then I found my way to an old shaman and I started to lose all of my drive. I started to struggle to find motivation to do the things that I had built my life around: to run my business the way that I’d been running it.
And deep down inside, I knew that what I was feeling was the right thing. I knew that I couldn’t continue to do things the same way that I had been doing them because it would have given me the same results.
I would have continued to experience external results – the success, the car, the recognition, people wanting to learn from me, and all these things that I needed so desperately.
But it also would have given me the same result in my inner world: restlessness, always looking for more, always looking for the next thing, always looking to dream bigger and to go faster.
If the need to be seen is our main driver for motivation, we are overlooking an important distinction, because in fact – the first person who needs to see us is ourselves.
What gives us the most recognition in life tends not to give us the most fulfillment in life – and the opposite is also true.
What tends to give us the most fulfillment in life is often connected to spending time with the people we love.
For example, being a good parent can be incredibly fulfilling. Silently, being a good parent and being there for your children every single day – just doing, just being there, just loving – this can bring fulfillment.
Or being a great caretaker for your father or mother. This tends to give us very little recognition from the outside world – there is no big social media following coming from being a good caretaker for your mother.
However, looking back in life, if you would ever get into the situation where your parent needs your care – and you were too busy building your business or social media following – you would miss the last few months of his or her life.
You will not remember the ten or hundred thousand extra followers on Instagram, but you will remember spending time with your parent in the last two months of their life.
For that reason, the thing that gives us the most fulfillment will not give us the most recognition. And the funny thing is, if you can truly act from that place within that is true to your SOUL, you don’t need that recognition from the outer world anymore.
Because at this point, the person who truly sees you is…YOU.
And the first person who truly needs to see you is…you.
Being the Eagle of Your Life
If you want to be seen, you need to start by truly seeing yourself.
This is the big paradox in life because usually, when we need recognition for what we do, we are not aware of the fact that we are silently looking for that recognition. But we can observe ourselves, the way we act, and the way we think. If we look at ourselves from a different level, just as an eagle views things from the sky, how would you see yourself? If you were an eagle, how would you view your life from a distance?
If you observe the way that you move, the way that you act, the way that you think, the way that you feel – from what place inside yourself are you finding motivation to do all of those things?
Now, you won’t find this answer in your mind because it can’t be found in your head. This is the mistake people make: if they try to observe and study themselves, they start looking for answers in their head, rather than in their body – in their heart.
The reason why we start looking for answers in our head is because when we tend to search within our bodies, it becomes too confrontational.
Then, you are truly confronted with what is REAL. And most people simply don’t like to go there. They either aren’t ready, they feel they don’t have the time – which isn’t a true reason – or they just fear going there. They fear reexperiencing something that is old and painful.
But if you wish to be a true leader, a true self leader – a leader of your own life – you’ve got to BE with what is REAL, and you’ve got to stop telling yourself certain stories about your past and identity. I know that in personal development, we have been taught to tell ourselves empowering stories, which is nice – but ultimately, it is yet another story. It is simply another story.
And I learned this the hard way.
Drumming the Truth
About four years ago, I was very proud to bring my first drum to a ceremony. People call this kind of drum a “shamanic drum” – it’s made out of the skin of an animal and you make it yourself. It’s a beautiful handmade piece of art and it’s a very personal instrument. Many people call this a shamanic drum is because of the lessons my shamanic mentor – a true shaman – gave me. But I don’t call it a shamanic drum – for me, it is just a drum.
So I brought my drum to the ceremony.
And in a ceremony, we jam, we make our own music, we sing – it’s beautiful. And in that ceremony, I was sitting next to the shaman and I was drumming along. I was making my music, making my sound.
And then out of nowhere, the shaman looked at me and said, “That drum doesn’t sound good; that sound is off.” He said, “Stop playing that drum.”
I was shocked by what he said and I stopped playing the drum.
In a ceremony, our emotions are always expanded. Whatever we feel, we feel very intensely because it is the medicine that expands these emotions for us to find a new perspective – so that we can ultimately heal them.
We can heal the silent parts of ourselves – the subtle parts of ourselves – that may not truly serve us.
So I was struggling with these feelings, thinking to myself, “Is he even allowed to tell me to stop playing my drum? What is happening here?”
I felt suppressed; I felt not welcome; I felt not seen.
So I decided to continue to play. In fact, I think I had started the song, and if so, the rule in ceremony is that when you start a song, you also finish the song.
So I kept drumming.
The shaman was in child’s pose with a joint in his mouth, as was customary for him in ceremony. He would just take a little break.
As I continued to drum, he sat up, looked at me, and said once more, “Stop playing the drum, that sounds so off.”
Despite his second command, I continued to play because I decided that I wasn’t going to let myself be suppressed.
And he said, again, “Stop playing the drum.”
So I stopped.
I was overflowing with all sorts of emotions that I couldn’t identify.
He said, “What does this drum mean to you? What does it stand for?”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
I felt a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear.
I felt a lot of fear not being seen, of not being good enough, of not being recognized for who I was or for what I did.
And I shared all of this with the group that was there in ceremony.
And then WillemWout said, “If that’s what the drum stands for, you have to put it in the fire.”
Facing Difficult Emotions
I moved towards the fire – I sat with the fire; I sat with the drum; and I gave it my breath.
All these feelings of not feeling recognized or seen. I connected with them using my breath – allowing those feelings to be felt inside of me. Allowing them to just be while I sat with them.
I took my time to go through this process, even though I knew all the eyes were looking at me.
That’s what we do when confronting fear: we breathe – we sit with it – we feel. We allow our emotions to be. We might even say to ourselves: “You are a self leader. You are ready and strong enough to allow those feelings to be – you don’t need to overrule them anymore with your mind – you’ve been doing that long enough now.”
A key lesson I’ve learned is to STOP overruling your emotions with your mind. We do this as a way to feel certain about how you feel; to be certain about who you are – or at least how you think you are, even though your mind is actually disconnecting you from who you truly are – from your truth. In this way, you will never truly be able to answer the questions: “Who am I?” and “What is my truth?”
In order to answer these questions, you have to get out of your head and you need to start feeling and allowing these feelings to be, no matter how difficult this is.
So I was allowing these feelings – struggling with them, but allowing them. Not trying to fix them – just simply allowing them to flow and exist.
As I gave my breath to the emotions, I gave my breath to the drum.
I said, “Thank you,” to the drum. “Thank you. Thank you for bringing this healing into my life.”
And in that moment, I put the drum into the fire and watched as it went up in flames.
Burning What You Are Not
The big paradox about the drum was that it had a painting on it, done by a shaman artist who helps people make their own drums. She asked me what I wanted to have painted on the drum.
I said, “No, no – you decide. Whatever you feel and tune into it – paint that.”
And so she painted a beautiful dragon on the drum – and it was that dragon that ultimately burned the old part of me – the little boy that desperately needed to be seen.
That little boy who was so afraid to be not seen by others.
Building a business, becoming a best selling author, buying a Porsche: I needed all these things in order to be seen. They were a massive driver to how I became successful, but it didn’t give any fulfillment to me – none at all.
In the weeks and months after that ceremony, I struggled with having burned my drum. I still felt that something had been taken away from me.
For a time, I even kind of hated WillemWout, the shaman, for this. I was pretty angry at him for him saying, “You put your drum into the fire; burn it.”
I kept thinking, “Who is he to say that? Is that even shamanic?”
But after some time, I began to understand that yes – what he made me do was very shamanic: to teach me to detach myself from everything that doesn’t serve me.
You Cannot Search for Certainty
The only way to detach yourself is to truly look at it, to truly hold it, to be willing to burn it, to let it go, and to put it into the fire.
Make a fire and BURN what doesn’t serve you.
Literally write out that old story and then burn it.
Let it go and then experience how your inner world and emotions change.
Are you OK?
Are you willing to do this without knowing what comes in return? That is what is asked of you.
You have to be willing to burn your stories, burn your past, burn your identities without knowing what comes in return.
You cannot replace it first – you cannot find what you want to replace the pain with and then burn it. This doesn’t work because you cannot search for certainty – it isn’t how it works. You have to let go first and then, through letting go – through opening that space – something new will arise. This is how life works – this is how the universe works: life’s great paradox.
Your stories, your identities, your beliefs, your pain of the past – be willing to face it one-on-one. And when you do – something new will arise – a deeper connection to who you are. You will be able to find fulfillment first and then, from that place of fulfillment, wonder what it is that you’d like to do.
Your outer world, the things that you do, the business that you own, the job that you have, whatever you do – the outer world doesn’t need to change. But when your inner world changes, everything else will change with it because you will then live from a place inside of you that is truly free instead of a place where you’re trying to compensate for a struggle that’s within you.
Because then, your motivation will change from needing recognition. You can identify this if you feel you need to do something – if you feel you have to do something or that you don’t have choice – that’s how you identify the wrong driver. The voice inside will often say things like, “I need to do this; I need to build this business and become successful; I need to achieve this…”
But when you find that place within you that is true – you will find silence. There are no more to-do lists or “should” language. Just peace.
How Plant Medicine Can Help
Do not ignore the process of going within, even if it is daunting. Remember that you are strong enough to face what is within, even if that’s emptiness, even if that’s pain. Remember that the answers you seek cannot be found in the mind. It’s time to drop that skill: thinking, analyzing – whatever.
Drop the strategizing and just breathe. Allow the emotions to flow. Surrender.
And then the mind goes, “How do I surrender?”
There’s a big paradox. Just breathe and practice that.
And maybe you can find some help in the plant medicines: find some help in cacao, find some help in microdosing mushrooms or truffles, or find some help in microdosing capi – which is the ayahuasca vine.
Many of this stuff is legal in the Netherlands, it is a great country to live in. And many states in the U.S. are now also legalizing psilocybin mushrooms.
So seeking help in plant medicine is becoming a reality for many people.
I would advise that you avoid plant medicines as a way to “find creativity.”
Microdosing in order to find creativity, find success, find a bigger mission, etc – these are the wrong intentions. You’ve got to remember that whatever you microdose, it’s still medicine.
You’ve got to look within, you’ve got to allow your feelings. You’ve got to be with them.
So it’s a great aid in connecting to who you are. Connecting to what is your truth – finding that silence. Start seeing yourself: start seeing yourself for who you are, for what you bring.
So much healing is found in truly seeing yourself.
More importantly, seeing yourself and feeling yourself – allowing that feeling; allowing that love.
Don’t Miss Out on Your Passion
If you can start from a place of truth, instead of trying to be successful – or doing or acting from, “I need this,” you can start acting from, “I want this. Because what I love to do – it’s because it gives me the most joy – it gives me the most excitement.”
The only thing you can miss out on in life is your passion.
The only thing that is a problem if you didn’t do it is your passion.
On your deathbed, you won’t dwell on why you didn’t make another million or grow your business to the next level – all of those things are not going to matter.
What’s going to matter is whether or not you lived your passion. What’s going to matter is whether or not you were with the people you loved.
So through seeing yourself, through feeling yourself, finding that love for yourself – you can find that place of, “I want to do this because it gives me joy. It gives me excitement.”
And that is what truly matters. That is where fulfillment starts. And then, this is where success might grow. If it grows – it’s nice to have, but it doesn’t really matter because you had your fulfillment. The success would be nice, but your life won’t depend on it because you were fulfilled: you walked your path of fulfillment, joy, excitement, experimentation, passion, creativity, action, love, and discovering new things.
That’s your path.
Stop analyzing in your mind and just follow along with what is within. That is your path. You’ve got to trust it.
Just follow what is real.
Just follow what is within.
Follow what’s within.
Follow what is real in the moment.
Follow what excites you.
Follow what gives you joy.