For a wound to heal… you don’t keep touching it, picking at it or scratching it. It’s common sense, right? So… why do we keep doing it to ourselves?
Yesterday night, I realized that I’ve been way too hard on myself when it comes to getting past old wounds and insecurities. I saw that most of my stress and struggle were not because going through so-and-so emotion or challenge was so difficult. It was because of my incredibly stress-inducing reaction to every new dis-ease coming my way.
Here’s an extreme example of such a reaction:
“What’s this emotion now? Where is it from? OH, not those daddy issues again? I thought I was over that! Is there something else I don’t know? Maybe I should buy this book about abandonment issues. Maybe I should go meditate and dig some more into past traumas… or maybe past lives! Or maybe i’ll just go eat a whole bag of chips and 2 chocolate bars. Actually… I’ll just go post a meme about it. With my bag of chips and chocolate.”
“What happens when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy? Notice the panic where you instantly grab for something.” – Pema Chödrön
It seems that many philosophies in the spiritual/personal development realm are all about endless psychoanalysis of our emotions and digging into ten thousand “hows” and “whys” — all aiming at explaining why we feel a certain way. I’m not saying there isn’t value in understanding the roots of our wounds. Actually… it is a must! But once you’ve touched it, once you’ve fully seen it and felt it… you don’t need to keep touching it. You don’t need to keep poking at it further whenever there is a little flare up, or fuel it with a hundred more stories about why you are so wounded still. You can just LET. IT. BE.
This is something I am basically just learning now. Having a strong and stubborn intellect, I’ve always been into “trying to figure it all out”. Trying to fix things with my head. But there is a time and place for putting the mind at use, and there is a time and place for simply allowing ourselves to be as we are; present, open and gentle with ourselves.
You don’t intellectualize your way into loving and being there for a child, for example. You don’t read books about psychology to a kid that simply needs you to be there and hold their hand. In the same way, we sometimes just need to BE there for ourselves, without saying anything. Without trying to fix anything or talk ourselves out of whatever we may be feeling. Sometimes, to heal, we just need to be there, and that’s it. And I don’t mean curling into the foetus position and cry a river because “we should throw ourselves into a dramatic purging process every time an emotion says hi.” You can do that if it feels natural to you, but where I am getting at is that shifting from one state to another can also be accomplished with the lightest of touches, as my wise friend Kosta Stoyanoff would say. With a gentle acknowledgment of what you are feeling, a smile of compassion, and a willingness to continue moving forward even if you aren’t feeling “perfect” yet.
“As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success, we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves, nor will we find compassion. ” ― Pema Chödrön
See, the only reason I’m writing this blog right now is because last night, I’ve decided to put the cellphone and distractions down for a few hours and just be there with what I’m feeling. I recognized my anxious feelings of not “being enough” and of this moment not “being enough” as products of an old train of thought that has never before led me to a happier and more fulfilled space anyways. So instead of treating it as this big ol’ monster requiring 10 more hours of psychoanalysis and anxious “figuring things out”, I simply let it be. I sort of said “Hey, I recognize you. You can stick around or whatever, but I’m just going to feel this out and not listen to your suggestions of finding yet another way to run away. I will just stay here and be okay in this moment with myself.”
Doing this shifted me out of this overwhelming fight-or-flight mode and provided me this single insight that I swear is going to be a game changer for me from now on. I already feel more relaxed. I already feel like I can move forward and be a better friend to myself. Growth doesn’t have to be a constant battle with yourself. It can be a wonderful, supportive relationship between your mind and soul. This is what I want to build my life on. No wonder I’ve been struggling with internet addiction, attention-seeking, sugar cravings and distraction binges lately. I’ve been beating myself up for it wondering what’s been wrong with me… but the truth is ANYONE would want to escape from the stressful and pressuring relationship I’ve been having with myself. It is even understandable that my poor mind would want to take a break from myself with food, social media newsfeeds or whatever else can take my mind off the bully inside of me. But that bully is me. It’s always been me against me. The beautiful thing though… is that it can also be me supporting me. Me loving me. Me being patient, kind and gentle to me. We all hear and say that we need to be more kind, gentle and loving people… no reason this shouldn’t apply to ourselves. 🙂
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” ― Pema Chödrön
I believe that being more gentle and easy with our internal ebbs and flows is what provides us the perfect environment and space to actually heal and flourish. It’s kind of like providing a child with the love, patience, wisdom, care and space he or she needs to thrive and grow into the best version of themselves. You don’t punish a child for falling down when they are learning how to walk. You don’t ignore them or run away in fear either. You understand that they are just calibrating their balancing muscles and are learning as they go. Growing as a human being is also a process of learning as we go; a natural one. You don’t grow a flower by pulling on it. You simply give it sunlight and water and let it flourish at its own space. You can’t control your own or anyone else’s growth, you can only support it.
Would you rather have a controlling or a supporting friend? A controlling or a supporting parent? If you’re like me, you probably resonate with the latter. So let’s go ahead and be what we seek. 🙂
“There are more than enough voices in this world that will weigh you down by telling you that you are “not enough” of something or other… Don’t let yours be one of them.” – Kosta Stoyanoff
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