“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust
I have a love-hate relationship with this quote. I love that it points toward deep self-discovery as a way to experience life differently. But if “having new eyes” means “understanding or seeing” oneself differently, it doesn’t go nearly far enough for me.
My frustration comes from my own experience and that of so many people I’ve talked to over the years. Maybe this will sound familiar to you: “I understand that I should stop the negative self-talk, accept myself, see myself as whole and well. But just knowing that hasn’t changed a thing. I forgive myself over and over, but I wake up every day still feeling ‘less than.’” But what else is there to do but keep trying?
The deeper voyage of discovery, beyond that frustration, is uncovering who you really are at the core of your being. That is an amazing journey and it not only changes how you feel about being yourself, but it even changes how your life “happens” for you.
In my language, the core of who you really are is your natural “well-being.” It is the kernel of energy you began life with, and it is a feeling of complete joy and acceptance of your unique way of being human. So, why don’t you live every day with this feeling about yourself?
There’s this other stuff that you feel called “Learned Distress.” It’s the negative feeling you absorbed early in life that says, “There is something wrong with me.” This negative feeling gets stored in your sense of self, which is the engine that drives every moment of your life.
Learned Distress intensifies over time, so as life goes on, you feel worse or you feel that it takes more and more work just to make things go well. For the most part, Learned Distress overwhelms your natural well-being, so it feels harder and harder to connect to that place of self-acceptance and joy within.
Why doesn’t understanding all of this change it? A researcher named Mimi Herrmann discovered that while your thinking brain is operating, there is a wall of resistance to change activated around your sense of self. The resistance to change is natural –– it is just protecting your survival mechanism, your sense of self.
But, because of this wall of resistance, just changing your thinking can’t change your sense of self. Hermann created a process that capitalizes on the time that your sense of self is open to change, which happens to be while you sleep, and it allows you to permanently remove layers of Learned Distress, so your natural well-being can expand to take its rightful place.
It’s interesting to hear what people say when they experience this deeper level of change.
- “6 months ago, I would have lost several nights of sleep over this issue. But I just know it’s going to be ok. I’m not really worried.”
- “I’m usually the wallflower at a party. But last night, I found myself talking to lots of new people. And I made some connections that are going to help me get my business unstuck. I can’t believe it.”
- “I would normally put off this project until the last minute, because I would be scared I couldn’t do it well enough. But I actually finished it 3 days early and my boss said it’s the best work she’s ever seen!”
- “I always just take the blame for what’s going wrong in my relationship and suffer in silence. But last night, I found myself talking about how I feel, and we had the best discussion of our entire relationship. For the first time in my life, I feel like I really matter.”
What’s more is that people start to discover their life purpose. Often, it’s something that they had never even thought of. (People often tell me that if they were to be honest, they don’t even know what really matters to them.) Or, there’s that thing that they just thought was quirky or even wrong with them, but that thing ends up being what they can offer the world –– and just what the world is hungering for. Or sometimes, they know what their purpose is, but just haven’t found the pathway to fulfilling it.
What do the negative voices in your head say? What feelings are you immersed in that you know aren’t helpful, but you just haven’t been able to change? What might your life be like if you could replace those voices and feelings with a sense of joy in your own uniqueness?
Editor: Lindsay Friedman