I’m Not vs. I’ll Never Be

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Inner Work | 3 comments

“I’ll never be good enough.”
“I’ll never find a partner.”
“I’ll never…”

Have you ever had a thought like this?

They don’t feel like thoughts. They don’t feel like they are pointing to just one of many possible future outcomes.

They feel like statements of fact, an absolute truth of reality. Especially if you’ve been struggling with the goal or issue in question for some time.

When you hit upon an “I’ll never…” – chances are good that there is a lot of pain and emotional energy behind it. Liberating this can be powerful, and a high-leverage place to direct your inner work.

Let’s examine a few ways you can uncover, and productively work with these structures.

Uncovering a Charged “Never”

An exercise you may have heard me use a lot is to close your eyes and ask yourself the question:

What do I want, that I don’t have right now?

You can try this for a moment and allow some of the thoughts and images to present themselves.

You may notice that some are more passing, some are a ‘would be nice,’ others have a stronger energy of desire behind them.

In a similar fashion, while simply listening relaxing and listening to whatever presents itself as an answer, ask yourself:

What’s something I’ve really wanted, that I realized I could never have?

Take a moment here. Observe what shows up, and pay attention to the different emotional reactions that arise with the responses.

The Charge

Some responses here may also fall into the ‘would be nice’ type of reaction.

You may believe, or even know that you’ll never have this particular desire (for example, something genetic like a physical attribute.) You can see the perks of it, but it doesn’t feel particularly charged or painful.

What you want to take a look for is anything that has more of a charge to it. More intense, ranging anywhere from loss and sadness to anger, to feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut.

Be aware of the visceral feeling, along with whatever the belief associated with it is such as “I’ll never find love.” This may move around in a lot of different directions in terms of thought and feeling, this is OK.

Keep in mind: these reactions are painful, and may be hiding themselves from you rather well.

If you have touched something here, acknowledge yourself for even exploring this territory. Stay present here as best you can, even if it is uncomfortable.

For now, don’t challenge this feeling or belief. If it feels true to you that you will never find love, even though you may know intellectually that you cannot objectively prove the future, allow it to feel as real to you as it does.

Feeling + Belief + Protection

Let’s take a moment now to separate the feeling from the belief formed around it, and the protective purpose it often serves.

As active as your mind and inner dialogue may be, showing you the reasons and lamentations about this subject, see if you can place your focus on the more visceral aspects of the feeling.

For example, go beyond even a word like ‘sadness’ and see if you can tune into the sensations in your body. Any tightness, constriction. Where specifically that sadness is manifesting itself, characteristics such as if it feels like you want to hide away from the world, retreat, lash out or scream.

You may be experiencing many different things simultaneously. Do not worry about picking one or trying too hard to focus, just place your attention here. Be more interested in the visceral experiences than the dialogue, past painful events or reasons and descriptions your mind is presenting.

Keep breathing into these feelings, and just do your best to place your attention there. It’s not about quieting everything else or some kind of purity.

The main point is to notice that there is a physical and emotional experience that is right here, right now.

This can benefit greatly from your presence, just as you are doing. No matter what life decisions you feel you have made about the future or the past, notice that there is a raw feeling, here and now, that can use this presence and support.

While closely connected, the feelings and sensations you are experiencing are in fact different than the thoughts that almost instantly follow them – “I’ll never be…”

With more practice, the distinction and gap of time between the emotional feeling and the thoughts that follow, will increase.

The Belief

While I can tell you that part of you is likely projecting a future based on past experiences, and we can understand that intellectually, it may not help very much.

There is an emotional component to the structure of this belief, and I am generally more interested in the self-directed process of resolving whatever we can, not to just understand what it might be on a broad conceptual level.

Now that you are more connected to your body and emotions, take a look at the belief itself. The thing that says “I’ll never have.. I’ll never be…”

As you continue to breathe fully, take a look at the different things your mind is showing you.

Ask the question: “How do I know I’ll never have this?”

Take a look at all the evidence that presents itself.

Again, the process for now is to directly confront this evidence. Meaning, to actually look at it directly as best you can in a conscious way that can help process it and bring things into focus.

  • You’re not trying to reframe it
  • You’re not trying to say that the past is the past (because the fact is, it’s coming up for you NOW)
  • You’re not rushing to do any technique to try to get rid of, transcend, or anything else that can be latched onto as a subtle avoidance.

Allow yourself to directly confront the belief of “I’ll never have…” and this evidence.

Be open to acknowledging, seeing any of the following:

– Those past events were painful, scary, whatever they were for you, and that it is perfectly natural for them to create a lasting sore spot.

– A part of you says “Let’s never try to have that again, it hurts too much” — and one of the best strategies to keep you protected is to convince you that you can never have this, therefore do not try.

– There may be conflict between something saying “go for it, you can do it if you work hard enough, visualize enough, xyz enough…” and the part of you saying “I’ll never…” and that neither side is ever going to win. The art is to listen to both and see where it can be OK to move forward AND be safe.

–  Anything else that comes up for you naturally, which has the most authority because it came from you.

Remember that the very act of examining these things intentionally has power in and of itself, especially while supporting your body with breath. The very act of bringing things into conscious awareness from a calm, intentional and supported place allows a lot of benefits to happen naturally. Just don’t force anything. Your system will naturally show you what it is ready for.

Is That It?

Of course, there are plenty of ways to go deeper. Any of the uncomfortable feelings, memories, or insights that come up during this process may also be great candidates for further inner work such as EFT rounds, meditation upon them while allowing the feelings to process, and anything else in your toolbox.

The goal here is to give you a framework for breaking down these types of subjects:

Separating the visceral feeling response from the thought “I’ll never..”
Being present and working with that feeling directly
Intentionally examining the thoughts, feelings and memories triggered by the “I’ll never” thought
Being present and working with those as they arise.

You can take this framework and get much mileage out of this, and it is something that can benefit greatly from partner work or with a facilitator like myself.

I hope you find this useful. Feel free to share anything here that comes up for you that you’d like to explore further in this format, on video or an upcoming support call.


  1. Remy

    I’ll never be may be correct though. If I say I’ll never be an Olympic athlete that’s probably correct. To put this in a usable context for the article: if I use either statement after say trying to do the same task after 5 years, like trying to be a millionaire or something, that statement may be correct and may also hurt. However, those statements, never and not, may be exactly what you need to hear to help you grow in another direction.

  2. Johanna

    I just tried finding the emotionally charged “I want, but now no I will never have…” thought, and can already see how powerful this process can be. Thank you for giving us a framework and further options for exploration. Thank you for making the distinction between the thought, rooted in time, and the emotions that are present here now. I’ll revisit this process again when I have more time during my daily meditation.

    • Evan

      My pleasure. Glad it was helpful, and would be curious to hear what else it brings up.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Calming Negative Self-Talk

Calming Negative Self-Talk

Isn't it interesting how we use the phrase "self-talk?" If it's mySELF that is talking, shouldn't I have control over this voice? When it comes to speaking out loud, you can simply stop talking, you...

Your Thought System Affects Everything

Your Thought System Affects Everything

Did you know you have a thought system that deeply affects your emotional work, results and overall happiness? What do I mean by "thought system," and how could it be so important? Well, imagine I...