I believe that people are born with a natural tendency toward evenness or extremes.
Though we have the capacity for both, most of us gravitate to one side of the spectrum. Take a look at your life so far. You may agree.
If I were to describe my life to date, I’d call it a roller-coaster ride. High, highs and low, lows. There’s a place for fear, elation, despair, and ecstasy. If you find they are happening frequently and/or simultaneously, chances are you are exhausted and searching for balance. Though life is naturally challenging, I think there’s a turning point where we begin to question:
What is my responsibility in all of this? Do I have to live this way?
And you don’t.
For as long as I can remember, I always had a higher self that I could tap into. That person is intuitive, steady, and centered. She led me to my ideal career path. She guided me out of toxic relationships. She inspires me to live my mission and serve the people around me. She validates my inner beauty and reminds me to be discerning in love. When she drives my life, I notice an immediate change in my mindset. I feel infinitely connected to the world around me. My bodily anxiety simply vaporizes into thin air, creating space for emotional health and well-being.
But our humanness has a way of sabotaging our progress. For me, this centeredness usually has an expiration date. For many of us, negativity and self-pity sneak up if left unchecked.
“Look what I don’t have,” I’d lament.
From there, with a muddied perspective, I’d go and fill my life with distractions. I’d wait in line for the roller-coaster once more.
Committing to my higher-self, or spiritual path (or whatever you want to call it) has been pretty inconsistent and prioritized haphazardly throughout my life. I know I’m not the only one.
We all have an array of needs, both small and large, and we get caught up in simply filling them. We want food. We desire touch. We crave attention. As we focus on our earthly, animal desires, we can sometimes forget to tap into our deepest, divine wisdom. This wisdom keeps us balanced and available to access true happiness.
Rumi says that “A wound is a place where light enters you.” Maybe some of us need more wounding to illuminate our need for change.
Personally, I needed a certain amount of pain to finally light up. And I know I’m not alone here. I see so many people around me, slowly pulling out of their own self-inflicted darkness. We are different ages, with different circumstances, but our destination is the same. We know that something crucial has to change.
My illuminating moment is extremely vivid. I was lying in bed on a hazy, quiet December night. I knew I’d be leaving my husband, my home, and all that I’d committed myself to. I’d be alone with my two toddlers. Add to this mix the approaching holidays, bleak weather, and the absolute uncertainty of the situation. I was going to be heartbroken in countless ways and stages and it was going to be messy. I made a pact with myself that I was going to use this as my final motivator for change.
I’m happy to say that I’ve kept my promise. I think I’m done being reckless. This is the advice that helped me.
Explore your childhood.
It’s impossible to manage something you don’t understand. Managing yourself is no different. Many of us have the desire to change, but re-patterning is hard. In my early 20s, I decided to start seeing a therapist right down the street from my college dorm.
“Where has this feeling come up for you before?” the therapist asked, as if she already knew the answer.
On a practical level, I recognized that our earliest experiences shape us, yet I felt looking back was unproductive. I didn’t want to make excuses for my own poor behavior, feel sorry for myself, or even worse, blame my parents who were also trying their best.
Exploring our pasts is the ultimate catalyst for personal growth when approached with a mindset of personal responsibility and not blame. Taking this a step further, you don’t have to necessarily have a “bad” childhood or have experienced significant trauma to have developed unhealthy coping strategies in your adult life. By thoroughly revisiting your past, you can access your deepest values, desires, and patterns.
Think of your life as a slow, insidious engineering process on your psyche. Each and everything you saw, heard, and experienced has created your own version of reality. What was the dynamic you saw between your parents? What did you receive praise and validation for? What were your insecurities? You have to go back and you have to go deep. You must observe your programming to be deprogrammed. Your new, healthy reality is born when you can wipe yourself clean.
Commit to a few regular, centering practices.
There are so many ways to center yourself and access your highest levels of consciousness. For me, meditation was the most important. Over time, I can feel how murky my perspective gets without this cleaning. Other things like dancing and exercising are amazing as well. They all get me out of my head and into my body. Our deepest pains originate in our minds.
My meditation teacher reminds me to prioritize my practice, even with the countless things I have on my plate as a single, working mom.
He provided this analogy:
“Imagine meditation as some new, beautiful man you met. Even with all your responsibilities, you’d find a way to see him.”
He’s right. I try to think of my spiritual practice as a tall, kind, soft-lipped lover. I’d find a way to reunite with him, no matter what it took. I’d hire a babysitter. I’d sneak out into the cold night of my balcony just to touch and hold him. This shouldn’t be any different.
Recognize that you are a spiritual being having a human experience.
I can’t help that I’m a perfectionist. That too is part of my hard-wiring that I am trying to rewire. I’ve spent my life categorizing my choices into two categories: good and bad. This is limiting.
Not only is there room for our perfect humanness and divine magnificence, but we must honor and balance their dual existence. What do I mean on the most practical of levels?
You can go and eat that healthy dinner and then enjoy a strong cocktail(s).
Sometimes your soul needs solitary reflection and other times you need to over-socialize at a wild, crowded party.
Your body can enjoy the sexy, instant touch of a new lover, but your mind can honor the fact that deep love takes time and restraint.
It’s all there, waiting to be experienced. We do need both. We are human and spiritual after all.
I promise there’s a balanced, happy you in there. Let the wise you drive your life’s car. If you get a little bored, you can always ride the roller-coaster. Just don’t forget—it’s a ride, not the way.