Life of the ‘Gotto’ Fish

There is a breed of people swimming in the ocean of life called the ‘Gotto fish,’ though it is best pronounced “Got to.”

There is always something for them to do; there is always somewhere they need to be.

“I’ve just ‘gotto’ do something for work” one would say before running off from his wife and children.

“I’ve just ‘gotto’ get this done around the house,” another would say before they might actually stop for long enough to deeply connect with others or themselves.

They can relax by switching off when they “Just gotto watch TV, just gotto catch up with a friend.” They can recharge when they “Just gotto grab a cup of coffee, just gotto grab a snack” and when they are really, really tired, they rely heavily on “Just gotto get this finished.”

They would say they move through life easily enough, but in reality there is little real ease in their movement. Each time their body comes to a rest, something kicks in that either requires a complete switch off or the next ‘gotto’ task to be completed.

The ‘gotto fish’ are driven by anxiety and nervous energy: a type of fuel that prizes movement over presence and switching off over connection. Even though they can get amazing amounts of work done, the reality is that living this way is draining.

Yet most are raised by other ‘gotto fish,’ so living in this way is so familiar and common that they never really see that anything is wrong.

For one ‘gotto fish’ life was becoming too hard to keep living in this way. He had become tired to a point where no amount of sweets, caffeine or alcohol could boost him for long enough. His health suffered, even though he had studied all manner of complementary and energetic therapies. His relationships suffered because there was no way of having a conversation that didn’t start from this point of anxiety.

He was committed to getting it right but couldn’t keep swimming through life this way. The hard part was finding another way to move through life, which was a quest he had been on for a number of years, but to little effect. On one level the ‘gotto fish’ became quite depressed.

“Surely there is another way to be?” he asked from a place deep within.

The interesting thing about life is that when you ask a question from this deeper place, life has a way of responding. Not everyone asks the question in this way and not everyone acts on the answers they get, but thankfully this ‘gotto’ fish was open when the answer came.

He came across the ‘Universal Fish,’ a wise fish who has swum the waters of life for many, many years. There was nothing the Universal Fish had not seen, done or tried, yet there was a twinkle in his eye and an ease to how he moved.

The Universal Fish suggested to him that his anxiety and drive to always be on the move was not where the issue started – that we only become anxious or use nervous energy as a form of fuel when we lack one thing… connection to ourselves.

The Universal Fish explained to him that connection was first and foremost an energetic connection. Anxiety in fact was simply our body’s way of letting us know that we are not connected. “It’s a bit like a car driving on the edge of the road – it will feel bumpy, because we are not meant to be driving there, but if you have never learnt to drive in the middle of the lane, it will feel normal,” the Universal Fish said one day.

The Universal Fish encouraged him to explore not only energetic connection but the different qualities of energy that we might connect to. “Anxiety comes from one form of energetic connection,” the Universal Fish offered.

The Universal Fish introduced him to the Gentle Breath MeditationTM, explaining that it was a way of establishing a connection not just to energy but to a deeper part of ourselves. It was a way to find a place within that was deeper than the anxiety and nervousness.

The ‘gotto’ fish didn’t instantly like this kind of meditation: he would wriggle, itch, twitch and move as he tried to practise the technique. Not only that, when he did become more still he would begin to feel things within that were both beautiful and unsettling.

Then over time, he began to feel gentleness and for the first time in a long time he felt connected to himself – his true self. He learnt that the issues he had been running from for much of his life were driving his anxiousness, and that understanding and working on this gave his body a feeling of more space. The ‘gotto’ fish got help and worked with people that swam through life with that same gentleness he was connecting to.

The Gentle Breath MeditationTM was not a way of escaping life but building enough honesty and room in his body for the gentleness to grow. Over time he found that his body was capable of swimming with enough gentleness that he began to move through the waters of life with stillness. He had a smile on his face, enjoying the feeling of moving in stillness.

Nowadays, the only thing he ‘gotto’ to do is stay connected to himself. He’s not mastered it yet, but when he stays connected to this, the rest of life takes care of itself and anxiousness is no longer what drives him.

By Joel Levin

Related Reading:
Beating Anxiety Gentle Breath Meditation®
What’s Happened to the Joy of Life?
Anxious Much?

331 thoughts on “Life of the ‘Gotto’ Fish

  1. ‘They would say they move through life easily enough, but in reality there is little real ease in their movement. Each time their body comes to a rest, something kicks in that either requires a complete switch off or the next ‘gotto’ task to be completed.’ – what is it that propels us through this flurry of continuous activity – all these ‘Gotto’ moments are self imposed – so what is it that is driving us away from our connection with our selves and each other?

  2. Wonderful analogy here Joel – and thank you for the beautiful reminder of how connection is our foundation in life for anything to be solid and have true meaning.

  3. Yikes! Reading this today I can see how much I swim like a Gotto fish! It goes something like, when I complete this then I can be with friends. This includes physical tasks but also being a certain way, sorting out an issue that isn’t actually an issue I just make it up. Universal fish is so wise. It’s as simple as connection first.

  4. “Nowadays, the only thing he ‘gotto’ to do is stay connected to himself… when he stays connected to this, the rest of life takes care of itself …” This is so true Joel – staying connected to ourselves, to our bodies, is the number one priority in our lives…and everything else constellates in harmony with this connection.

  5. We run with the ‘gotto’ belief… but who is saying we have ‘gotto’? It is a self inflicted way of being in life.

    1. It surely is, Paula, one that depletes and exhausts us and reduces us to a mere flicker of our glorious true selves.

  6. ‘that we only become anxious or use nervous energy as a form of fuel when we lack one thing… connection to ourselves.’ this would answer the questions of the masses who are currently living with some form of anxiousness and offer a very easy, simple way to start to understand and change the condition they are living in.

  7. There is so much more to life than our wants, desires and must do’s, All we need to do is put down our small agendas and connect to the fact that we live within a mind blowingly enormous Universe that has an entirely different agenda to embrace, one compiled by an intelligence that goes way beyond our limited understanding of what life on planet Earth is really about.

  8. This is a great explanation of why we can exhaust ourselves through life… I don’t think many people are aware of it, but it makes so much sense. I recall the days when I am in the driving “Gotto” mode and the days when I am not and it makes a huge difference on how I am going to be feeling at the end of the day, the following day or even the whole week. Thank you ❤️

  9. The ‘fuel that prizes movement over presence and switching off over connection.’ I can still sadly relate to this. Great to reread your post Joel. A very timely reminder to surrender more deeply.

  10. I love the switch that is evident in this blog, from ‘getting through life’ to ‘finding another way to move through life’, the latter movement that has dropped the need to fulfill expectations (the got to’s) and rather uses connection and presence in movement to guide us through the day.

  11. There is so much understanding here about the human condition and the ‘gotto’ trap. Reading this was both an ‘aha’ and an inspiration moment. I have been a master ‘gotto’, as I feel have so many of us, and it is brilliant to read this wisdom in such a playful and accessible way.

    1. Spot on Matilda – the trap so many of us can relate to, and an offering of a different way to be so that we do not have to continue down this track…

  12. In the stillness of the connection to our inner hearts there is not one ounce of drive, only the impulse of what there is to be done.

  13. It’s true that the only thing we ‘gotto’ fish need to do is stay connected. Then the rest will fall into place in a way that brings a smile back to your face and a sparkle in your eyes.

  14. The ‘gotto fish’ can get us all the time if we’re not careful. We can do something out of obligation, or we can do it because we feel to do it or know it needs to be done. There is a massive difference.

  15. I know many will recognise themselves as Gotto Fish reading this blog. I have lived this way for a very long time – even continuing to a degree after being shown another way by many Universal Fish who have made the choice to live life running on a true source of energy rather than dragging an exhausted body through life. After being very sick for months recently my Gottos have dropped away leaving me with the blessing of being able to feel the sweet surrender of my body, knowing there was never really any gotto that was more important than the connection I have with soul.

  16. I wonder how many of our conversations actually start from a place of anxiety rather than a place of settlement, openness and purpose, which every interaction has the potential to be about?

  17. I remember the wriggles and itches when I first started to do the gentle breath meditation. My spirit just did not want to feel the stillness and motion of God in my breath.

  18. ‘They would say they move through life easily enough, but in reality there is little real ease in their movement.’ – The illusion we live under knows no limits and we would easily swear we have a great life.

  19. We think we have to try, to do, to struggle, to find, to seek, to explore, there are many things we think we have to do but simply be-ing is it, staying connected and living from that connection.

  20. Thanks, Joel. With this allegory we are shown how it is never to late to simplify our lives and return to a life of connection and joy.

  21. Understanding anxiousness and nervous energy as a type of fuel that runs our body – one that prizes “movement over presence and switching off over connection” we get to clearly see the antidote to these common disorders in the body: stillness and re-connection are the medicine.

  22. Thank God for the Universal Fish that IS swimming against the tide and offering the opportunity for the ‘gotto fish’ to know there is another way to swim that makes it possible to render nought the exhaustion and overwhelm of push, drive and rush of the ‘gotto-do’ syndrome.

  23. For the last two nights I have been experimenting with letting go of the ‘Gotto Fish’ and it has made such a huge difference to the quality of my sleep and how I have felt when I have woken up in the morning. Shifting this pattern for me is huge, I resist it so much as I have spent a life focusing on what I do and not who I am.

  24. What a topsy turvy life we create for our selves in our constant spin to ‘get something done’ at the price of our inner stillness and connection with each other and our selves. What a grace it is to meet a person who makes this their first port of call, not their last, and in doing so reminds that we all have a true place of grace within ourselves to return to and live from, a choice that is open to us all.

    1. Love what you share here Rowena, it’s so true, when we are met first for who we are it’s as though all our particles light up with joy, we can feel the treasure trove that lies within us all, that we all too often dismiss or ignore completely.

  25. Are we avoiding intimacy and connection with others as we have dis-connected with ourselves first? Instead, we have chosen to be captured by the constant bombardment within our society of how we ‘should be’ in this life over the truthful wisdom being shared from within our selves. When we choose to connect and listen, we already know exactly how to be – our true selves.

    1. A great question to ask ourselves, Alison. I know that when I am avoiding intimacy with myself or others I am avoiding responsibility – as in, seeing and being shown (often simply by reflection) where I am at and what is going on.

  26. Given that there are always things that we can find to do – is it that the matter at hand is so pressing that we feel we can’t spare the time (4 mins even) to connect with the person we are with, or are these ‘pressing things that we’ve ‘gotto’ do actually our excuses, allowing us to avoid connection and intimacy with each other?

  27. The ‘gotto’ fish is constantly driven by our minds. Connect and live from our bodies and life has a flow and harmony to it that no mind comes close to.

    1. Very true, our minds only tune into a certain bandwidth at any moment in time, yet our bodies are able to feel multi-dimensionality, there are no limits.

  28. We can often feel alone, swimming in the waters and getting through life. But what we often forget is that ‘life’ is listening to us constantly, and it responds more than we are to realise or appreciate. It presents the challenges we need to face and deal with that get in the way of our connection to ourselves, and it presents the answers of how that connection can be lived in amongst the murkiest patches of water.

    1. It felt very beautiful reading your comment this morning, Rachael and appreciating how we are constantly being held in love – as we are presented with exactly what we need to take our next step forward, expanding our understanding and learning. The choice is always ours whether we move forward, to the side, backwards or stay still, however, the love and support for each and every one of us never waivers.

  29. ‘“I’ve just ‘gotto’ get this done around the house,” another would say before they might actually stop for long enough to deeply connect with others or themselves.’ It’s such a game we play, and Heaven knows why, for it does not make us vital and loving, but sick and tired. The ‘gotto’ game is not working, it’s time we looked within for a connection with our essence.

  30. ‘Gotto’ do this and ‘Gotto’ do that. Its no wonder we swim around in circles and make ourselves exhausted by creating the external ‘got’ do list.

  31. What you are sharing really rings true with me. I can feel that I can say I have just ‘Gotto’ do this to avoid stopping and resting and feeling what is going on and that actually living in this way is exhausting.

  32. The gotto fish uses duties, obligations, demands, plans and ideas to create pressure and thereby make energy available – it works the same way as coffee or sugar or other uppers. It runs the body down and gives us plenty of energy for a limited time.

    1. It is amazing to consider the strategies we adopt to stimulate and keep us buzzing even if we do not consume stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol. The ‘gotto’ way has very similar physical impacts and health implications as these substances.

  33. For a society that can be so seemingly rebellious at times it does seem crazy that we have so many gotto’s we think we have to comply with – who do we think decides those? What imagined outside authority is that? The only true authority is that of our innermost heart, and the only gotto is to listen to that.

  34. Thank heavens for the Universal Fish, and I say that as an ex Gotto who still sometimes dips back into the Gotto shoal, only to find it really is swimming against the tide and so find again my own way back.

    1. The ‘gotto’ pull is strong. It is how we have set things up in society and the wheel has been turning for a long time. As you say, thank heavens for the Universal Fish who, simply by swimming past the shoal, offers a ripple that we all feel and that offers the way into a different way.

  35. “most are raised by other ‘gotto fish,’ so living in this way is so familiar and common that they never really see that anything is wrong.” it’s a bit like compound interest – the state of affairs generation after generation gradually getting more extreme, without us really acknowledging the fact, until the point we find ourselves totally broke.

    1. Being raised with this motto has left many people high and dry with the levels of exhaustion and overwhelm that come with the ‘go to do’ list. The universal fish has shown that there is another way if we choose to put love first.

  36. The Gentle Breath Meditation was a game changer for me. I’d tried other meditations and they didn’t do anything for me, but the Gentle Breath Meditation was one of the first things that quite quickly reconnected me to my physical body.

  37. “Got to” is the same like someone totally withdrawn from life. It just looks busier being a “got to” but energetically both parties are disconnected to who they really are and covering their anxiousness with a behaviour. One with drive, the other with giving up.

    1. “Go to” or ‘go against ” either way we are pushing or pulling away from what we know is a true way of living.

  38. ‘The ‘gotto fish’ are driven by anxiety and nervous energy: a type of fuel that prizes movement over presence and switching off over connection.’ – Yes, the gotto fish constantly needs to prove their worth.

    1. Imagine you would grow up with these kind of stories instead or fairytales etc. ! That would make an enormous change.

    1. Touché Ariana… it is the staggering truth – to make lovelessness more important than Love is a crazy way to live but it is what the majority of us choose everyday!

  39. It is a true fact Joel that anxiety is simply our body’s way of letting us know that we are not connected. From my own experience, I am learning to feel the difference in my body and the gentle breath meditation is the key to returning to connection. It’s all we gotto do.

    1. How amazing is that – and how different the world could be if this was a realisation held by all, – for sure we’d probably not have coffee, energy drinks, sugar etc as we’d not feel so exhausted if we weren’t living with anxiety.

  40. “… we only become anxious or use nervous energy as a form of fuel when we lack one thing… connection to ourselves.” The medicine of our future brought to our door by Universal Fish, who through his own awareness and connection ushers in our future ways now, showing all through his grace and wisdom the way to return to who we truly are, Universal, divine and amazing Fish.

    1. When we plug into the truth of who we are, we plug into the unlimited resources of the Universe but when we are disconnected from ourselves, we have to scrabble around for substitute and inferior sources of fuel.

  41. This is a great reminder that staying connected to ourselves is our most important tool and that it does take time to master and that is what we are here to learn for through that connection we connect to the all.

    1. I agree kevmchardy, our number one job here on earth is to remain connected with ourselves and also to keep deepening and expanding this connection. As you say this takes time to master, but then having access to the bigger picture of life is worthy of our commitment to being ourselves.

  42. What we call life is so often just a list of tasks and obligations which sit in place where true connection, wonder and presence should be. If you were offered Love and the wisdom of God or stress and disease, surely it’s a no brainer. And yet see what we choose.

    1. Yes.. most of us have settled for a functional life, devoid of the bigger picture, and punctuated by the highs and lows – a holiday or treat to lift us up and out of the day to day drudgery and grind. What I love about what Serge Benhayon and many other world teachers have presented through the ages is that life is not supposed to be about pure function, and to live like that is to miss out out on the grandness of life, that is right there and accessible to each and every one of us. There is a bigger picture and whole massive universe that we’re all a part of, and connecting to this, by connecting more deeply to what we can feel, is what restores our vitality, settlement and deep contentment in life.

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