The incredible powers of determination and denial
What you need to create an extraordinary life in a nutshell
Hi, I'm Kat!
What I am most passionate about is to inspire you to see that your life is your own and biggest masterpiece.
During my research on Old Hollywood actress Tallulah Bankhead, I have come across a quote from one of her biographers, the talented Judith Mackrell and it reads “(But) Tallulah possessed wonderful powers of determination and denial”. And I quite frankly loved it. Because that, in a nutshell, is the prescription of an unapologetically wonderful and extraordinary life. Let me explain.
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Determination is “the quality that makes you continue trying to do something even when this is difficult” ( Oxford Dictionary) Why is this important for an extraordinary life? Because building an extraordinary life does not happen from one day to the next. There is no fairy that is going to wave her wand and your whole existence is going to change in an instant. There are a lot of mindset shifts and a lot of aligned actions that will need to be made. Even in the face of rejection and failure.
Where does determination come from? Determination and resilience in that sense are the same – the willingness to go full steam ahead, to modify, to keep going, to pursue a specific path. It comes from having a clear and emotionally charged, thus very important and very personal goal. And that really is a necessity for living an extraordinary life.
You can basically compare building an extraordinary life a little to building a bridge or a building or a machine. First, you need to know what exactly it is that you would like to build – for a building, considering where it is going to be positioned, what the environment is like, what the neighbourhood is like, what the needs are, whether you want a lot of windows, whether it is going to be 3, 4 or 10 room apartments, whether to include a fitness area or not, etc. So, you get the picture. Without this clear picture of what the end goal is, you need to figure our the structure around it – when is it supposed to open? What is the timeline? What is the budget? Then you need to make sure you have all the suppliers on board that will help you manage this goal and get experts in for all the tasks that you are not especially good at and need outside help. And most of all, break down the big goal to manageable smaller goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, milestones.
With your life it is basically the same. You need to make sure you know your big extraordinary goal in life. No worries, it does not need to be the ultimate goal that will never be changed ever again. It is rather a one-year or two-year plan, that allows you for lots of ambition because it is not so close. Because close deadlines bring up fear for some of us. And when you have this great big exciting vision that makes you all tingly, you need to make sure to break it down to milestones and find out where and how you need outside help. And keep going no matter the obstacle and the fails. Because, honestly, you will fail when going after an extraordinary life, because that means it is different, it has not been lived yet, you figure it out on the way. So, be prepared for failure, don’t see it as a sign that you are on the wrong track, but rather as a way to keep going to find another, more helpful way to succeed.
Second, you need to find out who you have to be to embody that version of you that will have achieved this goal. Because what got you here won’t get you there. You really need to be objective, find out what version of you will be the one having achieved the goal and become her. This sounds so simple, but it is not easy. It is a practice, it is a process. And only determination will get you there.
Denial on the other hand has a twofold meaning for me that came up the minute that I read the quote. One is internal, the second is external.
What is internal denial? Internal denial means denying your own demons, your own limiting beliefs, your internalised traumas, wrong thinking patterns and all the things that tell you that you will not achieve the goal, that you are too weak, too fat, too thin, too unskilled, too unexperienced, too ugly, too poor, too complicated or not talented enough. It is the willingness to face these thoughts and fears and deny them the power that they have over you and become the version of yourself that you want to create.
The external denial is denying the things others say, the opinions of others or even circumstances that others would stop at. But you keep going otherwise. In the example of Tallulah Bankhead, it was when she relocated from the US to London although she was told that the role that she had previously been offered had been given to another actress and that nothing could be done about that. Long story short: She went over to London, she eventually got the role and it was her smashing successful debut on the London stage. If she had just given in, accepted the news and stayed in the US, her life would have gone very differently. This is the real denial – to fight for a goal no matter the circumstances, to forge a way of ones own and denying that your path is determined by others.
So, in a nutshell, I think the wonderful powers of determination and denial are some that we should adopt as well and hone them because they will help us create the life that we crave and become the person that we would like to be.
With all my love!