Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting. - E. E. Cummings


A few mornings ago on my way to work on the train I had something of what you might call an epiphany. I like to think that I get epiphanies often but this one felt different than my usual thoughts. It didn't come from a still, small voice inside. It didn't come on angel wings or fairy dust or a soft beam of light. It sort of like SMACKED me in the face with a crow bar. Hmmm... ok God, I get it! I'm stubborn. This is what it said - clear as day - in bright, flashing, neon, fluorescent blue colors:


Part of me thought, well duh. Isn't that what they've been teaching me since pre-school? That it's important to be myself? That I am loved for who I am? Maybe. But the thing about the human brain is that it's a tricky son-of-a-gun and only hears what it WANTS to hear. It has selective hearing and only takes in what already matches what's inside of the brain already. So, if someone has a belief, deep inside the brain (whether consciously or unconsciously) "it is not safe to be myself" then there is not anything that anyone can do or say to convince that person to believe the opposite of the message that's already in their head. The person may "hear" it and intellectually understand it but will not absorb it, take it in or make it their own unless they change the belief.

Our brains are basically computers that have certain "hard-drives" installed and programmed into them. Some hard-drives have been programmed into us since before we could speak. Others are being programmed as we speak. The purpose of life, I think, is to uncover those hard-drives and decide whether or not they serve us anymore. If they do, we can choose to keep them and if they don't we can choose to ditch them and replace them with new hard-drives - otherwise known as new beliefs that are actually true and help us to function as our best selves. So, how does one get a hard-drive installed? It might seem a little complicated, but it actually happens within a fraction of a milisecond:
1. Something HAPPENS.
2. To make "sense" of what has happened and to organize our inner self around the outer world, our brain creates THOUGHTS/judgements about what has happened.
3. The thoughts/judgements create EMOTION.
4. This whirlwind of thought-judgement-emotion becomes a PATTERN.
5. The pattern then becomes a STORY/hard-drive.
6. The story/hard-drive then becomes part of our IDENTITY.

So then, we think we are our stories/hard-drives. Our made-up fantasy stories based on a split-second emotionally-charged judgement of something that has happened start to rule our lives and impact every single decision we make.The truth is that we are vastly more than our beliefs about ourselves or what we "think" has happened to us or what we are. The truth is we are whoever we choose to be at any given moment. The truth is that you don't have to have the same hard-drive installed as every body else, as your peers, as your culture, or as your family. The truth is the most memorable people - the ones who make history books, the ones who change the world for the better - rarely, if ever, followed the masses. They decided to ditch their old hard-drives (and society's stupid hard-drives!) and instead followed  their own heart lines and which subsequently led them back to themselves and back into the whole world.

Be yourself. Be for yourself. Be with yourself. And if you do, you will never be alone.

Now, with that said I must be 100% honest here: this un-doing of our old stories and hard-drives is a process and I too am un-doing and un-learning certain hard-drives and stories as I go. Part of the reason why I haven't been blogging as much (especially not writing posts) is because, well, of this fear that it isn't safe to be myself. That it isn't safe to use my voice. That doing so will lead to hurt and rejection. And part of me feels like a huuuuge hypocrite because I write on this blog that we need to love ourselves, express ourselves and accept ourselves and here I am practicing the opposite of that and basically hiding. And this is what I know about hiding: though it seems safe and feels safe, it is one of the most dangerous habits we can develop. Why? Because it reinforces our old hard-drives and stories. We are never forced to challenge or reject our hard-drives. We are never forced to face our fears and truly rely on our deepest, truest self - the part that is deeper than hard-drives, beliefs or stories. The part that is real. The part that never dies. The part that just is.

Also, don't get it twisted. Hiding and resting are not the same thing. YES everyone needs alone time, sleep and a chance to re-charge their batteries so to speak. But when you are avoiding certain situations and people because of old hard-drives and fear, and you insist on "resting" or following certain "routines" because you believe you can't handle the situation - you aren't taking care of yourself, you're keeping yourself trapped. GET OUT. DO SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU. DO THE ONE THING YOU THINK YOU CANNOT DO. For me, the one thing I think I cannot do right now is press the orange button at the top of this blog template that says "PUBLISH." I don't want to do it. I'm scared shit-less. (Gosh, I cannot tell you how many blog posts I have written but never published that are just waiting in the wings and saved as "drafts.") But guess what? I am going to publish this one. I am going to do it because I know that changing my hard-drive involves many of these small, seemingly inconsequential decisions that scare me. And I want to feel the thrill of doing something I think I cannot do.

The exhilaration that comes from doing something you think you cannot do is more delicious than any sweet food you crave, more exciting than any new love interest or crush you want to have and is vastly more rewarding than any material thing you can buy. It increases your confidence and feelings of self-worth in REAL and BIG and LASTING ways because it doesn't come from the outside - it comes from the inside of you. And the coolest part? You know this already! You've done scary stuff before! And you haven't died! So what are you waiting for? Press the button and just do it! Just like I am about to...

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