As nasty a pill as it is to swallow, my biggest challenge in life is…myself.
I get in my own way. You get in your own way. We all get in our own way, every single time. When I find myself feeling pretty crappy, my go-to is to blame the person that was involved in whatever event that I was feeling crappy about. But if I dig deep enough, I realize that it is either because I simply lacked tolerance toward the behavior or attitude because it fell short of my personal expectations, OR, that behavior or attitude left me feeling insignificant.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Such simple yet profound wisdom. I used to let everything outside of me (the way people looked at me, talked to me, didn’t talk to me, treated me, didn’t treat me, the job I got, the job I didn’t get, etc.) suck all the energy out of me and define my value (and mood!). Now let’s be honest; putting that much power into something that is completely out of my control is…frankly…stupid. REALLY, REALLY stupid.
One of the main reasons I started Soulful Detox was precisely because of this idea that, maybe, I needed a total makeover- a “soul” detox- something to clear out and transform all of those unhelpful beliefs that kept me feeling so…bad. Through a lot of inner reflection and work, I have come to narrow the biggest challenges I personally had to face, to 3 things. And here they are:
CHALLENGE #1: Thinking that who I am is limited to my body: “Your body is but a vessel,” said someone (I don’t know who). If that’s true, what is it that is being carried inside? Yeah… think about that for a moment. Most people would say something like, “my soul.” The Earth is approximately 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years and some change… I’m 35 years old. That means that compared to our cumulative existence, my life and everything I hold dear to me is not even a fraction of a second long, and yet it seems that I spend copious amounts of time thinking I’m too fat, too ugly, too wrinkly, my teeth are crooked, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not sexy enough, my hair isn’t perfect… All that shit is “shallow” shit. Why spend so much energy rowing a boat in shallow water? By doing so I ended up creating meaningless, shallow relationships that reinforce and remind me that I need to constantly try harder to decorate my “vessel” so that I can feel good about myself. What sucks about this way of thinking, is not only that people end up using you and leaving you regardless of what you look like, you don’t have any control over it. We age, shit happens, and we are constantly required to “fix” what other people aren’t embracing at the moment. Non-stop madness… So if my body is nothing but a vessel, then what if I spent all my time and energy beautifying the soul within instead? That is much more empowering. My point? Take care of the vessel, it’s how you get from one place to another on this short, short journey in life, but YOU ARE NOT the vessel.
CHALLENGE #2: Thinking that my thoughts and feelings are not important or flawed: When I was young, I used to run from anything that didn’t feel “positive”. If I was angry or felt rejected, I would internalize all of it and either blame the other person for being “horrible” or I would blame myself and think I was unworthy. When something positive happened, I would give the credit to everyone but myself, and downplay my excitement and pride in my accomplishments, afraid that I would be coming off as a pompous b*tch. As I got older, I picked and chose which thoughts and feelings were “acceptable” and which ones I felt I had to ignore. Feelings of love and compassion were ok, and feelings of insecurity and anger were not ok. This left me feeling like a fake- an imposter. Instead of recognizing that the bad thoughts are just as important, profound, and useful as the good ones, I only wanted others (and myself) to see the good and not the “bad”. Shame at its worse. Now that I’m “old”, I realize that hatred, anger, jealousy, sadness, grief, insecurity… ALL of these feelings, in addition to the wondrous good feelings, are here to teach me more about myself. When I’m feeling angry or insecure, I am no longer afraid to sit with that and do some serious inner reflection… WHY am I feeling so angry? What is going on inside me that is making me feel so insecure and unimportant? Going back to the vessel metaphor, ALL of this is what is in my vessel, and ALL of it needs tended to.
CHALLENGE #3: Thinking that motivation is something that comes to me, and not something that I’m personally responsible for creating on my own: It’s hella hard to stay committed to something we decided we wanted to do when that rush of motivation we had at the time we decided to commit to it is nowhere to be found. There was a position in the office I’d had my eyes on for a while, and it required a specific certification that I tested for twice and failed. Why did I fail? I didn’t read or study for the test. I just glanced over the material, winged it, and hoped I could get ‘close enough’ and pass. A year went by and I vowed that I would study for the test this time and pass. I definitely wanted the job! Months went by and my motivation to pick up that 3-inch thick book on federal regulations was still not appealing to me… It sat on my desk, for months, opened to Chapter 1… Life got busy. That was my excuse. Now I realize, it was simply a choice. I didn’t want it bad enough and I was waiting for something outside me to motivate me enough to pick up the book and read it. Motivation doesn’t come to you. That’s inspiration. Inspiration comes to you. Motivation, the drive to stay committed to something long after the feelings we had at the time we decided to pursue it have dissipated, is born and grown through action. When obstacles get in the way and our feelings are saying, “let’s start from tomorrow….today, let’s party” is when that thing inside your vessel (your soul) can come to the front and center, or you can continue ignoring it.
I’ve learned that ignoring my soul only leads to suffering, and I kinda don’t like suffering. Especially for shallow things. Adopting this kind of self-empowerment has made a world of difference to me, and has helped me navigate through some pretty shitty and rough waters as I ride this vessel. The deeper the water, the smoother the ride. Go Deep.