Undoing the Programming
Here we go, another one! Y’all know I love taking aim at unchecked masculine ideals that cause unnecessary pain and frustration.
Full disclosure, I have incredible will power and self-discipline. These strengths have gotten me through two college degrees, starting my own business, learning a foreign language, and much recognition and reward for my innovation and excellence in my jobs. I go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to exercising my competence.
But once I reached a breaking point of overexerting myself in life and I knew I needed to change, suddenly, will power and self-discipline weren’t as useful to me. I realized that I was missing the skill to be with myself, outside of my achievements and endless activity. I didn’t know what it felt like to source my worthiness from within. I didn’t know the inner peace of deep stillness. And despite all of my wonderful accomplishments, I felt worthless and empty.
Old habits die hard because the mind-body is programmed on an unconscious level to react in service of its own self-protection. Aware that I was pushing myself too hard, I didn’t know how to be any other way. I recall thinking every day that I would somehow be differently tomorrow. Relying on my sheer will power to slow down was not the answer as it turned out. I had to allow myself to surrender to my present moment perfection outside of my thinking mind and relentless hustling. I did this by intentionally exploring the wisdom of my body, soul, and higher self.
Surrender to the Moment
Getting permission from your mind-body to surrender to the present moment–ceasing your endless activity–can feel really hard at first. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. When the body feels threatening by idleness, it can feel almost like death. The inner deficiency can be so excruciating, that most people will never allow themselves to fully yield to it. But when you feel like your worst self–useless and empty because you think you haven’t earned your worth–is exactly the right time to be with the anguish of the inner void. When it hits hardest, it’s a gift.
A magical shift occurs when you allow yourself to sit through the discomfort of yielding to the present moment. The cycle of an emotion is only about 90 seconds, and yet, most people never learn how to be with their emotions. Instead, they re-trigger the emotional cycle, over-identify with the emotion, or they avoid the emotion altogether.
Will power is about conscious determination and muscling-through-it. It has a quality of pushing against resistance, but is missing that element of allowing. Being with your discomfort takes strength and courage not just from your mind, but your whole being. It requires participation from the body. Otherwise, you’re approaching your self-work cut off from the neck.
Gifting yourself with compassion is a beautiful place to start.
Start with radical, loving self-acceptance. That doesn’t mean succumbing to your whims, nor does it mean you have to pretend like you’re not frustrated by your self-limiting tendencies. Hold your whole Self. Acknowledge, give space, and love each and every one of your parts and patterns.
- How do you feel towards your protective, albeit self-limiting, tendencies? Like, really how do you hold these parts of yourself?
- Do you resist, resent, or judge them?
- What role do your habits play in your life? How do they protect you?
- What if you turned the relational stance upside down and told your overexerting (or however you define it) tendencies “Thank you for protecting me all these years”?
- How would those parts of you shift?
Journal about what you find. And keep practicing self-love, until your body gives you consent to slow down enough to discover your deep stillness and inner peace.
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