REVIEW: Amy Eliza Wong — Living on Purpose (BOOK)
“Inner opposition is the resistance you have with yourself; it’s resistance to your worth, your competency, or your ‘enough-ness’,” writes Amy Eliza Wong in her new book, Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy. “It is self-doubt and a lack of faith or belief in your wholeness, complete-ness, resourcefulness, or resiliency. It’s the energy of fear, either subtle or overt, that’s generated when you secretly worry that you’re a failure, that you don’t really fit in, or that you don’t measure up to others around you. Accompanying these limiting thoughts and beliefs are constricting emotions and an inner dialogue whose sole job is to keep you safe from failure and rejection. Its presence is as intrusive as wearing a life jacket in a bathtub.” Then she adds, in somewhat wry form: “…we can’t escape it. It’s called being human.”
It’s these sort of human proverbial installments, in addition to the titular and impressive life philosophy and guidance notes, that in my view really differentiates Wong. She’s preaching to the widest possible choir, but at the same time is unapologetically personal and specific about her own immediacies of experience. The philosophy may be universal, but her life isn’t necessarily, but in this particular case her sharing its specifics adds to the heft and affability of the read’s tonality, rather than hindering its universal tenets. “For each of us, the degree to which we experience this inner opposition varies greatly.
The way it moves tends to be fluid, dynamic, and contextual. Meaning that depending on what’s going on in our lives, the sabotaging inner critic is either a raging tornado or a sleeping dragon. For some of us, it runs our whole lives,” Wong writes. “…We all have these fear-based narratives running amok in our heads. Sadly, they come at a high cost. It’s hell to be at war with ourselves — not just because it doesn’t feel good, but because it eats up valuable bandwidth and resources for thriving. If our internal dialogue — our thoughts — is primarily fear-based then we can’t use those mental resources for creatively coming up with novel solutions to big problems, or discerning multiple points of view to connect with others in a compassionate way…Practicing appreciation is one of the most nourishing things we can do for ourselves, our well-being, and the world. Thriving requires that our attentional bandwidth is wide and free to gracefully and gratefully take in the things of life. Thriving means that we’re thoughtfully allocating our thoughts and our awareness in the direction of bettering ourselves, others, and the world. That kind of focus and choice is not possible when there is a war raging inside us.”
It’s a win-win, in other words, when you’re able to settle — Wong writes. That’s not to say she’s advocating for blanket complacency within one’s self. It’s good to put in work where work should be put in. But the ability to rationalize things with a healthy, optimistic, and objective perspective is crucial for fluidly navigating life’s sometimes crazy twists and turns. They’re paramount to keeping your feet on the ground, regardless of the arbitrary nature of your demons. Such a mindset, as Wong demonstrates time and again, is an elixir to an inner-fueled stagnation of sorts. Open your eyes, is essentially the generalized, overriding message of the read. And get out of your own way…