Do you love yourself enough to stop working on yourself yet?
Who would you be in that case?
A few years ago, I became fed up with being miserable. I decided I cared about myself enough to start working on myself seriously. I got into counseling and coaching and cultivated the courage to change.
Choosing Love Over Fear
I wanted to stop letting fear of conflict, being hurt, rejection, and change drive my life. I yearned to live with courage and emotional fullness in the midst of all life’s challenges. I hired a coach to help me focus on making decisions out of love instead of fear. And I slowly and deliberately started to remake myself.
About a year ago, I started reacting differently to the books I was reading to support this change. Instead of a sense of “wow, I need to think about that,” I started responding with “I know that.” I had the information, but not the behavioural habits I needed. With that insight, my learning switched from theoretical with small amounts of practice to being primarily about practice.
Nearing a Tipping Point?
Slowly, I started being able to imagine a time when I stopped working on myself and started just living.
A few weeks ago, I sensed a change in myself, a whisper that I had at some profound level become the person I have been trying to become. But it was only a sense, an inkling. I was afraid to relax my vigilance about continuing to work on myself. I thought that if I relaxed, I would backslide. And I knew I didn’t want that.
How would I know that I could relax without backsliding?
Life will always present challenges. I will always continue to work on achieving goals that force me outside my comfort zone. I will continue to expand my capacity to be with the reality of the human condition and the full range of emotional experiences. I will continue to trigger my fears and wounds and the fears and wounds of those around me.
But those are all simply part of living. They are not about working on who I am and how I am in the world.
I had no faith that I would recover if I slid back into old behaviour patterns.
Recognizing The New Reality
This week, I had another series of shifts.
I improvised a series of stories about the various things going on in my life during an InterPlay Focus Session (a coaching session using improvised movement, song, and story for self-awareness and discernment with a witness). The stories I told were grounded in the facts of my life and a variety of current opportunities and challenges – what is going on and the specific actions I am taking.
While I was telling the stories, I noticed a pattern of fighting to avoid jumping to conclusions. When my witness heard me talk about this afterwards, he was astounded. From his perspective, I had been the perfect model of a person committed to living in the present moment and experiencing the journey of life as it unfolded.
The gift of the contrast between what he saw and what I thought was that I realized that although I had become the person I want to be, I had not stopped telling myself that I needed to work really hard to become that person.
From that point, my challenge became to trust that I have become that person who lives in the present moment – with awareness of the past and an eye to the future and the focus on now. And my way of living in that present moment has become what I wanted it to be: self-aware, courageous, and leaning into possibility of connection with others in all sorts of ways.
When I truly trust that, I am able to take the energy I have been using to work on myself and use it to build connections and communities and serve the world or just to rest and appreciate the wonder that is this world.
And I am almost there. I can sense that.
What Happens Next?
I don’t imagine that this will make life easier or me happier all the time, though I do imagine there might be more contentment and less striving. I will simply be a human being living life – through all the mess and joy.
I might even be there already.
The evidence that I am is mounting and, to my slight amazement, I am believing it.
And the possibilities for what might be possible in my life from here are so far beyond my imagining that I have no choice but to walk step by step into the future and see what comes.
P.S. Reflections on One Year Ago
On December 1, 1015, I wrote a response to Susan Piver’s prompt for Quest2016. She asked us to finish the sentence, “What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…” and the answer from my subconscious was that 2016 would be Beyond Imagining. Now it seems that the message was not just from this year, but from the rest of my life.
I am deeply curious to see what happens next.