Jul 24, 2022
Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical Wellness
For the past month I’ve made a careful effort to not confuse the gathering of information with a change of Being. Nothing seemed to be easier -- or more common -- than to delude myself by reading books, adding “big” words into my vocabulary, and believing that somehow I've profoundly transformed in nature. Knowledge is useful, but it is not the same as understanding. Understanding is the product of trying to apply the knowledge, yet also realizing that you do not have the level of understanding necessary to carry the task through. Then, and only then, is a sufficient amount of space created for real understanding to enter and instigate a true change of Being.
One day, I just woke up and decided I wanted to give myself an honest and total “Tune up." In order to do that I needed to get clear on where I stood mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
These are the 12 tools I used, and needed, along the way.
Tool 1: Know Yourself
This is an ancient directive. Do you know who you are? Most of us feel like we do, or we at least feel we know ourselves to some extent. One of the biggest challenges I faced was thinking that your sense of self was a stagnant concept. And it’s not, as I’m changing every day. Therefore, knowing myself is really just knowing where I am starting out.
Tool 2: Self-Awareness
Like countless other women on social media, I consider myself to be an incredibly skilled private investigator. I proudly, yet selectively, advertise my services… “Give me anything to investigate, and within a reasonable amount of time, I’ll have the answers you want.” Well, one day, a chippy little voice inside my head responded to the offer saying, “Investigate yourself.”
Easy enough, I thought. I have complete and total access to everything that is Mia. Challenge accepted, Bih. I started watching myself like I was being PAID to do it. I paid attention to every moment, every gesture, facial expression, sounds my voice made, and even how I walked. It was super helpful to commit to being as unbiased as possible, which also meant making this a judgment-free zone. I watch, but never criticize. I resisted efforts to intervene, initially, because I wanted to collect as much information about “Mia” as possible. In fact, when the thought of “stepping in” arose, I knew that somewhere I was analyzing and evaluating my behavior. And at this phase, that wasn’t the goal.
What I didn’t realize straight away was that this assignment was to last indefinitely. Thankfully, I find living in the position of the observer incredibly rewarding, as I continue to discover one amazing secret about myself after another.
Aside from closely monitoring my behavior, I also did one exercise:
Make a list of the people you know that irritate you to some degree or another. Next, make a list of exactly what it is about each of them that irritates you. Now, as you go about your day, watch yourself to see if you, too, could have in you the very things that bother you the most about others.
You see, our minds are sneaky little f**ks sometimes. When we don’t like or accept a certain part of ourselves, we suppress our awareness of it. However, we allow ourselves to “work on it” by becoming critical of someone else who sins like we do. It is a truth: What irritates us most in others is always in us.
Don’t get down on yourself, I sure as hell didn’t when I found this out. Inevitably, there comes a time when the Light of Awareness slaps you in the face with another great realization: I actually never knew myself at all. I am a walking, talking contradiction-- what a discovery! Approach yourself, always, with curiosity and light-heartedness.
Tool 3: Straight Lines Break Cycles
I am about to express one of the thoughts that proves to you that I am a walking contradiction: Everything in life is circular. This is a truth that I hold. At the same time, when I’m trying to accomplish a goal or create a new habit, the fastest way to get to where I want to be is by walking in a straight line. The problem is, half the time I think I’m walking straight when I’m actually walking in circles. Yikes! It’s not until life starts repeating itself that I realize I’ve just been doing the same things. Here’s the tool: Make it your aim to walk in a straight line, because in order to continue on in a straight line, one must first notice when s/he/they isn’t. Remember, catching yourself failing here (and everywhere, really) is a success.
For instance, say you’re trying to improve your eating habits and you decided early in the day to have a protein-packed salad for dinner. Yet when the evening arrives, pizza sounds so much better. Stick to the plan (aka the Straight Line).
Tool 4: Conserve Energy
Light and energy are synonymous. One of the biggest and most obvious lessons I’ve learned recently is that if I want my Light to shine, I cannot waste my energy entertaining negative energy, or unconstructive thoughts and actions. Whether I consider it to be a “big deal” or something small, it still robs me of vital energy. The truth is simple: Negative energy damages our bodies and our spirits.
Regardless of my position, it was important for me to learn how to transform the negative energy I did experience into something useful. Here’s how you can do it, too: The next time you find yourself irritated or angry, do not act on its behalf. Don’t argue with it, but also don’t reject the emotion or thought. Make it your goal to stay above the experience.
Another energy-saving tip that surprised (and saved) me was limiting the time I spent daydreaming. As someone who extracts a lot of applicable information and value from “zoning out”, I was resistant to frame the part of me that loves daydreaming as “the bad guy.” Until, that is, I asked myself this question: Is it actually beneficial or useful to have my mind and my body going in different directions? No, it’s totally counterproductive. I want my mind and body to move in the same direction at all times. If we (brain and body) are focused on a project, that’s where we’re at. If we’re daydreaming, that is the only thing we are doing. No more multi-tasking.
Tool 5: Accept the Challenge
A truth we all know, but don’t know that we know it is that: Friction makes energy. Energy is Light. The next time someone asks you out, or an opportunity presents itself, or maybe a challenge arises, flow with it instead of resisting it because you feel uncomfortable. Meet your feeling of being uncomfortable with curiosity and consciousness. Most of the time we are not avoiding the task or the person, but we are avoiding feeling uncomfortable. Recognize this pattern as negative and unhelpful. Being uncomfortable is a conditioned response born out of previously bad experiences. Do this continually, and you’ll find yourself welcoming healthy challenges.
Tool 6: Listen
I was a pretty shitty listener in the past. I had my blinders on most of the time, and assumed that what was best for me would also serve everyone around me. Sheesh, was I off!
There’s an old adage that essentially says we shouldn't ever judge someone until we walk a mile in their shoes. Now, this tool is similar to that: Looking at a situation from another’s viewpoint, and really listening to what s/he/they have to say.
Here’s how I work it: When you’re in a heated discussion that you’re passionate about, deliberately pull the reins in on yourself. Pin your thoughts, emotions, hurts, and opinions like sticky notes on the fridge, and look at the situation from the other person's perspective. Anything that inhibits your ability to think clearly has to go. Consider where the other person hurt, what they want, or even what they need right now. Remember, they probably don't have this tool in their box, so don’t expect the same treatment in return. For now it’s okay for you to take the lead and make things right. You’ll be glad you did. Do this, and watch your relationships greatly improve.
Tool 7: Do Nothing on Purpose
This one was interesting for me, as my nervous system is still recovering and my ADHD sees everything around me like dangling carrots of interest. I am programmed to move, to create, and to keep going. Doing something, personally, is a lot easier than not doing anything at all.
One of things I noticed about my repetitive behavior and habits is that they exist because I keep employing them, and most of the time uncosnciously. It was as if I had a sack of previously approved responses, emotions, and body movements, and just kept inserting them into new situations. But when I changed my schedule, and integrated the practice of doing nothing intentionally, I created space for my brain to storm up new responses that were reflections of who I’m becoming vs. who I have been. Doing this also reminded me just how much I enjoy being with myself everyday.
Tool 8: Watch Yourself
This sounds a lot like being self-aware, and it definitely could fall under its umbrella. But what I’m highlighting here is something a little different. Rather than just observing your behaviors and thoughts, watch the constructs around who you think you are and how they influence your behavior. Do you believe you’re a shy person or a go-getter? Each of these is just an image we’ve accepted about ourselves along our journey. But rarely - if ever - do we ask ourselves, “Does it help or hurt me to play a role?”
Maybe you’re someone who gets off to playing a role, but I personally find it detrimental to my development. It may be easier for people to cubbyhole me into one space in their minds, but in doing that, so many other equally as important and living parts of me are not socially allowed to take the stage. I say, just show up as you are. Yes, it’s scary knowing that you could end up not being as nice as you could be. But also, it’s equally unsettling to expend energy preserving a role that others have cast onto you. Don’t feel dejected, keep reading.
The higher way through this situation: Don’t do either. Recall the lesson about knowing yourself. Here’s how: Drop the role. Stop trying to maintain an image, but also don’t resort to becoming just the opposite. Say, someone wants you to do a favor for them that you don’t want to do, but you always did because you’re trying to keep your “good girl” image. Don’t do it. Decline. Decline, and observe your reactions to that action. Just watch. Remember, you can only know who you really are when you know who you are not.
Tool 9: Lose to Win
Truly one of the most wondrous and important tools I’ve ever implemented. It’s all about letting other people win. And THIS is coming from someone who has lived to WIN-- ha! Straightening people out, telling them what to do, and giving them a piece of my mind continuously proves to be a giant waste of energy and time. Defending myself is a waste of life, so I just stopped doing it. Here’s how it works: The next time someone tries to straighten you out or correct you, let them. Don’t even resist or argue (even internally). Notice that when you don’t resist, you stop giving away your power of self-command. The goal is never to control others, but to have control of yourself.
To take it to the next level: The next time someone insults you or makes you look foolish, let them get away with it. Take this golden moment to observe your negative reactions and impulses. Do nothing. They wrongly think they’ve won, but it is you who has won. You have won the power of self-command. Pretty soon moments like this will not trigger you anymore, but make you laugh.
Tool 10: Two Sentences to Save the Day
Here are two sentences that instantly make me feel better whether I’m saying them or someone is saying them to me: I made a mistake. I was wrong. It creates an experience that is mutually validating, and works to restore connectivity and trust. The truth is that we all make mistakes, and the sooner we get comfortable with admitting it, the better off we are. Bluffing my way out of guilt or humiliation is just a self-defeating bad habit that I probably picked up from those around me. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.
Tool 11: Slow TF down
Rightness doesn’t get angry. Huh? Are you struggling to see the connection between the tool and the first sentence? Stick with me.
To rid ourselves of hurtful behavior we have to start watching for it. Sometimes it happens so swiftly that we are swept away before we even know what we are saying or doing! Here’s the hack: Slow everything down. If you’re about to eat lunch, set the intention to eat slowly. If you’re usually someone who rushes to work, get up an hour early and enjoy your morning routine. On the commute, drive the speed limit-- no faster. The moment we get angry, we are automatically positioned to make a mistake. Rightness doesn’t get angry or defend itself… or even fight. Anger is like setting a fire inside ourselves, and expecting the other person to suffer as many damages as you have. But when you slow down, you send the message to your mind and emotions that they need to slow down, too. Your inner world can proceed at a slower pace, better positioning yourself to respond consciously and intentionally… if at all! The greatest benefit of this, personally, was gaining a sense of inner-freedom and self-command.
Tool 12: Let Life Take the Lead
When I take several steps back, relax, and ponder life, it actually feels ridiculous to demand that life unfold as we insist that it should. Here I am, a tiny little speck of a human, floating in space on a somewhat larger speck (Earth). What if life actually knows far better than what we need? What if what we think is good for us, our perceived “victories”, are in fact self-defeating? Talk about a plot twist! And what if what we’re resisting is exactly what we need to order to actualize our fullest development? If I'm paying close attention, no one has ever grown in character by attaining their desires. It was the defeats, the challenges, and the friction that forged character. Life has always been a marvelous teacher. Surrender to that.
Tool 13: Refuse to Feel Bad
The next time something is making you feel down, anxious, insecure etc. don’t do anything about it. Just carefully watch your feelings and thoughts. The real gold is in realizing that it’s your inner world events that are the source of your unhappy situation. There is nothing that could be added to your inner world that could make things better. When you're experiencing this, it means it's time to take something away. Just like when food has spoiled, there is no use in trying to make it fresh again. It must be disposed of. The same thing is true here. Ask yourself, "What do I need to get rid of right now?"
I've implemented this tools and tactics as much as I can, and have witnessed small shifts that have granted me peace, connectivity, understanding, growth, release, and self-forgiveness. And I hope it offers the same to you! Whilst this all proved helpful for me, it may not all be useful for you. Take what resonates, or what's worth experimenting, and ditch the rest! Take care.