Why Do Visions Feel Less Like Insights and More Like Compulsions?

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"Our genius is always there, embedded in our visions. And our visions are always embedded deep within our intuitive compulsions—within the things we feel called to do but don’t know why."

For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:


“I write because I feel like I’ll suffocate if I don’t. Because I’ll drown in my own suppressed expression.”

I found these words in an old journal. Way before I started this blog. Back when I was writing poetry and screenplays and novels for no one’s eyes but my own.

Even though I spent all day writing—press releases and media pitches and ghost-written op-eds—I came home and I had to write. For me.

It’s why I started this blog in the first place—four or five months before I even left PR. I’d get up early before work and write. Because I needed to write something for me. I needed to use my gifts to nourish myself just as much as I offered them to the rest of the world.

I had no idea where the impulse to write would take me. I just felt it brewing up and knew that I’d suffocate if I didn’t share it. It was the deep breath of expressing myself and being seen that I so badly craved.

And that’s the thing about visions—they’re the meeting place of two subjectivities. Just as much as this vision of Sacred Branding® and all of this work was pulling me forward, I was craving the very expression that would make it happen.

I didn’t know how or why I felt like I had to write. I didn’t know where it would lead me. But I knew that I was being pulled toward some vision, just as much as I was expressing towards it.

What I felt called to share from inside of me, I also felt pulled toward in the outside world. Even if I didn’t know what that was.

If we visionaries look back over the past five, ten, fifteen years, I’m sure our lives have taken us on some wild adventures. And those calls we’ve answered for ourselves have drawn us toward visions we never imagined for ourselves.

And yet, somehow, they were always there. Deeply intertwined with what we felt called to share in ways we couldn’t have even begun to predict.

And that’s the hard and frustrating part of being a visionary. It’s such a deep surrender of control. Because we’re often moving toward something we can’t see clearly.

We just have this call—this desire—to create or write or coach or heal. And it can be so frustrating to feel that but have no idea where it’s taking us. Or how to best share it. Or if we’ll ever make any money doing it.

There have been so many times when I was sure I wouldn’t be making money pursuing my vision. And where the vision pushed me to uncomfortable financial places. And yet I still couldn’t shake the compelling feeling that I just had to share this with the world. And figure out how to make it happen.

I don’t think any of us wants to make sacrifices to support something we don’t even fully understand. I know from interviews that David Lynch definitely didn’t want to pick up a paper route to support the production of Eraserhead. And Albert Einstein didn’t want to work as a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office while he mentally worked on his special theory of relativity.

But a real vision is something that’s inside of you. And maybe it lies dormant for 20 years. But it’s never really gone. It’s gnawing at you every so often. Like  you’ll drown on that suppressed expression unless you share it with the world.

And it doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t always feel like something outside of us is pulling us forward. It doesn’t always feel like there’s much of a sustainable future there.

It can pull us in 10 different directions. To improv classes and spiritual meetups and teaching jobs and toxic relationships. It can make us feel like we’re all over the place. And we don’t make any sense.

But feeling “all over the place” is kind of like having 10 different-sized cups and just pouring water from one to the next. The cups may be different, but the water’s always exactly the same.

There’s a reason I feel compelled to write. And it’s the same reason I feel compelled to teach Sacred Branding® and play cards with Garrett and read books on ancient astrology.

Because it’s my genius, my essence, that flows through every single “cup” in my life. Our visions always point us to our genius. They always help us express that genius any way we can.

When I feel compelled to write, it’s because my genius wants to make itself known. My real genius. Not the derivative forms of writing just for others. But the pure kind. The kind that comes from my heart. The kind that accesses a place deep within. My essence.

And, as I start to follow the thread of that vision, it walks me right toward my genius. Right toward the life I’ve always wanted to live.

Even if I don’t understand it or doubt it. Even if I have to make sacrifices for it. Even if it’s something I have to put down for 20 years until I’m ready to pick it back up.

Our genius is always there, embedded in our visions. And our visions are always embedded deep within our intuitive compulsions—within the things we feel called to do but don’t know why.  

Garrett felt compelled to go to Boston for college his whole life. Despite the fact that he’d never been to Boston. Despite the fact that his entire family—for many generations—had gone to the same pharmacy school in Philadelphia. He knew he had to be in Boston.

And we ended up on the same floor freshman year.

I felt compelled to go anywhere but Northeastern because my dad went there. And it seemed far too basic to be a legacy for me. But, years earlier, while visiting my sister’s college, I saw these amazingly designed tables. And I joked that the college I’d go to would have to have those. It was a vision I always kept in my mind.

Begrudgingly, I did visit Northeastern after failed tours of other Boston schools. One of the first things I saw was that exact table. And I bought a sweatshirt that day.

Without Garrett’s vision of being in Boston or mine of that table, I don’t know that we ever would have met. But we did.

And I can say that about 1,000 other things in my life that made almost no sense at the time. Visions that just gnawed inside of me. Things that felt stupid or nonsensical or impossible.

Things that asked for blind faith. And often more support than I was wanting to give.

Things that scared the shit out of me. And led me to a life that feels more like me than I ever dreamed possible.

You are calling to your vision just as much as it’s calling to you. Honor the call. Even when it’s scary and feels impossible. Even when you have to pick up part-time or full-time work to make it happen, or build up to it over 20 years.

You are a visionary. And that call is leading you right to your genius.


Questions for Reflection:

*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:

Why do visions feel less like insights and more like compulsions?

— Do you ever feel really compelled to do something—like write or travel or paint or have deep talks with friends? Do you ever doubt that this could be a real vision or something that could become an art form or business? Do you get frustrated that you lack clarity in your visions?

— Do you ever feel “all over the place” or like you’re being pulled in a million different directions? Do you feel “multi-passionate” and like all of your interests just don’t fit in together? Do you worry that it’ll never make sense to you, or you’ll never be able to sustainably share these passions with the world?

— What if every urge you feel is the other side of a vision that’s pulling you forward? What if all of your desires and urges are deeply tied to your genius? What if following the threads of your vision—even if they don’t make any sense or are unclear—will lead you right to your genius?

Mike Iamele

Mike Iamele

Mike writes about how artists, entrepreneurs, healers, and visionaries of all kinds can actually build a life around the genius inside of them.

He's CEO of Mike Iamele LLC and Creator of Sacred Branding® and the Sacred Circle.

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