I got a LOT of response from the email I sent last week encouraging you to own your own process. Owning your unique path to health & wellness & faith is the “one thing” I find so crucially important, my top piece of advice for those getting underway and those who have been on the journey for a while.
But it sounds nebulous. I get that. It sounds like a cop-out. Many of you wanted to know HOW. After all, it is seemingly easier to follow a set of instructions than it is to create your own.
Herein lies the very first part of finding your own way: it is a mental commitment, and there are zero ways to get around it. I’ve tried it and have witnessed hundreds if not thousands try it too. But there is no way around. The only way to this is through it.
Mental commitment is a practice. It requires that you practice, every single days, behaviors, thoughts, emotions and choices that enhance your well being and understanding of yourself rather than detract from it.
No one starts anything a master. Even the most prodigal artist must practice, and practice a lot. Did you learn how to drive perfectly overnight? Of course not. Particularly if you drive a stick shift, initially it seemed really complicated and complex. You had to think hard about it and get your brain, hands and feet to coordinate. Humans do not learn new things – especially big things – quickly. Learning a new language, a new skill like how to draw or cook or build a chicken coop, creating a new habit like a daily walk or gratitude practice – this requires daily diligence and checking in.
The pianist practices daily for years for an hour or less on the stage. Those pursuing meditation or mindfulness practice daily for the times when life gets hard and throws them a curve ball – as it inevitably, inexorably will.
You’ve got to practice. And, you cannot let your inability to “succeed” at whatever you’ve aimed for in the past – feeling better, identifying food sensitivities, being happier – preclude you from applying yourself now.
When we do that, we are consciously living an unconscious life. And we are so close to ourselves we cannot see how unconscious we are actually being. It’s not enough to identify our issues and a potential way forward. We’ve got to do it, over and over. Practice.
Typically what prevents us from doing this practice is some type of dysfunction in our relationship to self.
For example, particularly in the health world, we are far too eager to hand over our power to those we perceive as knowing more than us. There is something subtle here I want to be really clear about: there is a difference between seeking knowledge to help yourself and you turning over your hopes, fears and self responsibility to another.
The first is healthy. The second is not. When you give up your power to others like this, it shows
You don’t respect yourself
You don’t trust yourself
And this quite likely is spilling into close, intimate relationships around you, or in the roles you find yourself in. You then project this lack of respect on to others, and perceive that they do not respect or trust you. It is a perfect set up to be let down and disappointed again and again, and locks you in the search for finding “the right one” for you – whether a partner or provider or friend.
You’ve already got the right one, though. Pick up a mirror and look in the eyes you see there. The truth of that is just covered up by dysfunction and stories and the junk we’ve been carrying around with us for decades or since we were born. You can put it down.
Some ways to put it down:
Check boundaries: Do you avoid others, not share intimacy or over share with others? Do you use walls or emotional hostage-taking as a matter of course? Do you let people take advantage of you, or avoid saying what you really feel or think to avoid uncomfortable emotions or discussions (this is a distinct pattern of mine that I am working on). Do other people’s opinions of you matter more than your own?
Check avoiding or seeking behaviors: Are there large or small gestures that would improve a relationship that you are just not willing to take? Do you over consume alcohol or food that is not good for you? Do you zone out on TV or the Internet? Can you go more than 5 minutes without checking your phone?
When you catch yourself in one of these behaviors, you have a choice. You can choose to not do it. You can choose to do the thing that might repair your sense of self worth or relationship. Seeing the dysfunction, I have come to experience, is not enough. You’ve got to humble yourself in light of the dysfunction, and choose a new way. This is one way to peace.
When you collect this daily humility, the weight you carry becomes lighter. The path forward you have always seen has fewer obstacles, because you have taken the obstacles inside yourself and transformed them.
You are an alchemist.
Faith is wrought from the deepest, rawest most uncomfortable emotions you have inside of you.
And this has everything to do with not only being more at ease inside your own skin, but undoing all of the behaviors and injuries that have led to whatever struggles you may be experiencing now.
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