Do you know how hard it was to title this post? I almost called it “The Four Mistakes of Seeking Self-Awareness” but vague and noncommittal woo-woo jargon only sometimes float my boat and never for titles. Anyway, what I hope you know I’m talking about is those of us that are committed to rising up out of the habit of sleep-walking through our lives to grow spiritually and inter-personally in ways that fulfill and satisfy our desire to experience all that Life is offering and asking of us.
I’m talking to those of us who want to be awake and embracing Life. Those of us who already live pretty unconventionally, even if it’s only vicariously right now. Those of us who want more.
I’m talking from experience, too. Experience in my own life. Experience with clients who stumble with the same things.
These are the four biggest mistakes I see us all make:
1. We try to work on others as much as (or more often than) we work on ourselves:
Some people call this projecting. I look at it like a Fix It mode. We’re trying to “fix” our lives and we do so by meddling in what other people “should” be doing in their own lives. We (and by we, I also mean I) constantly think the problem is someone else’s, and if we can only fix our partner or our child or that really annoying neighbor who keeps triggering our desire to get all stabby THEN we will be able to reach personal enlightenment. (Essentially, we make our joy the responsibility of someone else.) OR we have to tell everyone we see with a “problem” about this new, great technique or practice we have. We essentially try to coach people we’re not meant to coach, instead of practicing the love and acceptance we know we’re called to practice.
The answer: That person or thing outside of yourself that you’re trying to fix or help or change is there only to reflect back to you the internal work you need to do. Take what is it they are bringing up in you and DIG IN to it. Bite your tongue or take a walk every time you’re tempted to “help”. The greatest gift you can give them is your own best self in full presence, love, and acceptance of where they are, with the trust that they don’t need fixing or changing.
2. Sharing too much, too soon (or with the wrong people):
I’ve found there is an incubation period with both our dreams and with our healing/growth. There is a time to share and there is an even greater time (especially in the beginning) to hold our Inner Work Cards close to our chest. There are also spaces in which to share that are safe and can hold you in gentleness and nonjudgment and there are spaces that will be too much, too bright, too harsh, too upfront, too cold, or too out of alignment. We sometimes like to blame the people or the space, and call them rude or harsh, and hold onto that hurt we felt for years to come instead of seeing the truth of it: that it wasn’t a right fit. There are also people who just won’t get it, won’t understand where you are, and if your inner work is in its infant stages, they can easily knock you right back down. But none of this is the fault of the people or space; they may be perfectly what you need at another time in your “journey”. They just aren’t right now.
The answer: You wouldn’t subject a just-walking and wobbly baby to a Black Friday sales crowd. They aren’t near ready for that kind of crazy movement. Neither is your heart while it’s stretching itself and still wobbly in its beliefs and practice. Find safe and sacred spaces with people who have been where you are or are there now, places that hold you and nudge you, but not before you’re ready.
3. Not going deep enough:
Oh this one is sort of a pet peeve (and yes, I DIG IN to that!). I can’t tell you how many people I meet insist they only need to repeat their mantra more, or go to yoga more, or change their diet (again), or latch onto that new shiny Fix-It-All Machine. They keep themselves BUSY so they can avoid the real inner work they need to do. They don’t want to DIG IN (hell, who really does? It’s a mess in there and our survival instinct likes to keep us safe from pain) so they try to Build Out…they ignore what’s happening beneath the surface and pile more answers over it to keep the real stuff really hidden. It usually leads to feeling really manic and scattered and we see the same patterns resurface and the real problem never really, finally heal itself.
The answer: Slow the eff down. Stop latching onto something new. Instead allow most things to drop away. Pick one thing – probably the book or practice or person who calls to you the most but likely freaks you out a bit – and focus all your energy on that. Don’t let yourself stop when it starts to get messy or uncomfortable. Know that that is when the good stuff happens: when you clear out all the yuck keeping you from it.
4. Staying too deep, too long:
You know the difference between Digging Deep and digging yourself a grave? How long you stay down with the muck you’ve dug up. It WILL get messy and there are PLENTY of opportunities to feel like total shit, depressed and hopeless, or not good enough. The difference between feeling like a failure that can’t change your own patterns and the person who finds themselves in freedom and joy and Wide-Open-Arm-ness to Life is the person who at some point STOPS digging and stops swimming around in their head and all the junk that our heads are capable of creating (and making us believe is true), and starts planting and nurturing other seeds.
The answer: Get out of your head! Get moving instead.
And because that’s a catchy little rhyme, I’ll just leave it at that. 😉