There are numerous teachings telling us that we should not focus on the things that we don’t want, that we don’t have, that we are not, so as not to attract that energy into our field … and thus create the very thing that we are wishing to avoid.

Much as I agree in principle, lately I have found myself leaning into an investigation of What I Am Not. And I’m inviting you to do the same.

I have come to realize that having a good understanding of what does not nourish me, interest me, make me bound out of bed in the morning, has become an important part of my self-inquiry. The “Not’s” are giving me a more clear understanding of the person that I am.

An important distinction here is that I have been peering into this realm with the intention of helping me to better understand and shape myself, rather than heading down the dead end road of lamenting (over and over) what I don’t have.

Through this lens, I have come to claim important Not’s, such as …

… I’m not one for small talk.
… I don’t thrive in environments marked by sustained chaos and noise.
… I have no interest in resolving conflict through blame and self-defense.

These are meaningful insights that help me to steer my way through the daily mine fields of potential distraction, move toward situations and choices that feed me.

This is quite different than sitting around stewing in despair, listing all of the things that I don’t have, cursing the Universe (or asking it Why?!) for my misery and pain. This only adds to suffering, for it doesn’t support forward motion. At its worst, this undertaking can be both demoralizing and destructive.

In other words, this exercise is about adding insight and value to the on-going project of developing You.

Treating your revelations as good information to propel you forward, keep you moving toward all that you are meant to be. Much like a sculptor, we must understand what we are cutting away and why, in order to create – and maintain – the beautiful, finished shape that we have in our mind’s eye.


It’s a slippery slope: the spirit can easily be snuffed if we cross over into the shadowy realms of sustained negativity and victimhood. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength to name All That We Are Not and remember that these are good things. That we are not less-than or not-good-enough because of those attributes.

If we can keep this perspective, we give ourselves the gift of getting to know ourselves better, honing in on our very best qualities and moving toward the things that bring us to being our very best in the world.


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