The darkest and most dangerous places exist in our own mind.
I am a professional at spinning out. My mind loves to come up with ideas and then chase them off the cliff into both doom and gloom AND success and opportunity. I am also a professional at keeping my mouth shut about wtf is running through my mind. Whether it be success or certain failure, I will speak of it only to people who I can trust with my life to not spin the crazy dial any further. This is solely because of who I want to be in the world that I will only trust calm and rational people to talk my deepest shit with.
Having had deeply distressing or disturbing experiences (trauma).. I know that time does not heal all wounds. What time does allows you to do is build a relationship with your mind and recognize how you treat it and how it treats you. We all know the idea that we are a sum total of the 5 people we spend time with, and this is because mentality is contagious.
If you are looking to change your mentality then here are some questions to ask yourself (in this order):
What shows, books, or music do you consume?
This can tell us if we have a flare for drama or if it has imprinted the idea behind what life is "supposed" to look like. What our aspirations are. What our style of processing emotions is. Etc.
And then think about the experiences you have on a regular basis?
What are the patterns here, because we all have them. And if you struggle to recognize your own patterns ask someone who you have an uncomplicated relationship with what they see you doing regularly that may be inhibiting you living your best life.
What kind of action do you take over your problems?
This is a biggie... let us tie this one to the ones above. Do your actions mimic those you see on TV, in the group of friends you have, the regular experiences you participate in, (ie bar hopping, movies, exercise, shopping, tindering, etc). This will lead you down the rabbit hole of "AM I HAPPY WITH MY DECISIONS?"
Ouch. Something that no one ever really likes asking themselves.
When we realize we are in charge of the little daily things we do, (realizing it means you cannot un-realize it).
we usually become wildly uncomfortable because that is a fuck ton of responsibility over our lives and we barely like to take responsibility over our bodies let alone whole life.
I am here to tell you that discomfort is just fine.
It is temporary.
It is also necessary if you want to change anything about your life.
It is scary as fuck to think about being alone with ourselves. Our mind is a living reel of experiences that continuously plays and is so easy to binge watch. But we do have some control over the loops our mind runs on. We just have to recognize that power and do the work to change it.
THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON CLIENTS ARE HESITANT TO START A BREATH WORK PROGRAM. We could call it the "I am afraid of my own greatness" syndrome. But really it is the "I have no idea WTF I would do with my time if I didn't have these habits (healthy or unhealthy) to dwell inside of" syndrome.
The first option teaches us to hope that we will be great. The second is the fear of change. But either way you cut it... fear and hope are the same thing. One tries to look at the light at the end of the tunnel to get us through the shittiness we are living in and one dwells in the darkness of worse case scenario. If you want to live your best life... there are actions you can take that no one else can take from you.
I want to say "I am sorry for the heavy handedness of this post", but I am not really sorry. I want a better world for each fuckin person that I meet or encounter. That includes you <3
I would like to say that it was peaceful moments in yoga that made me believe so powerfully in my breath, but it wasn't. It was actually violent and shocking experiences. The yoga experiences simply cemented in the understanding.
Coming from a background of abusive relationships I am aware of how it feels to metaphorically drown both inside of an experience while simultaneously feeling detached from the experience. And how these experiences form the thoughts you carry for the rest of your life.
If you are sensitive to stories of abuse, or do not want to know these stories about me, please skip down to where the text is bold.
I remember visiting a boyfriend in Indiana and him getting, what I found out the next day, was black out drunk. We were leaving a party and in his drunken rage he forced me into the passenger seat shortly after I began driving us home. Immediately after that he began speeding up and down dirt roads screaming at me about how he was going to drive us into the next telephone pole or through the next corn field in hopes we hit something unexpected and die because if he couldn't have me then no one could. I do not remember feeling ANYTHING though I remember a lot of other small details from this night, but the thing that caught my attention the most was the sound of my own breathing and how slow it got. It was more pronounced than anything else.
Unfortunately this was not the first time that an event like this happened with him. But it was the last.
Our minds are wired to wander, worry, create struggle, problem solve and survive. When struggles like seeking food, water, avoiding danger, and shelter are no longer there, the mind will begin to create "problems" to solve. If you have a history of unresolved bullshit like the above story, you can relate to the stories that the mind makes up about creating danger. And if you do not, then you can relate to the mind creating problems to attend to.
That person doesn't love me.
That person needs to love me.
That person needs to see things my way.
That person needs to do it how I would do it.
That person is going to try and sleep with me again to give me an std (that they must've caught) to get back at me for breaking up with them.
....if that doesn't happen my way it is indicative of my worth.
...I better end this before someone else can.
....I better call myself fat before they do.
....if it doesn't happen I will be in danger.
....I am in danger.
....I am not loved.
....I will be alone forever.
We are not immune to these thoughts. We all have moments in time where we dive down the rabbit holes of nobody loves us, everybody hates, the world is going to turn against me and I will perish alone.
At some point these rabbit holes have to become laughable. Not because it is true BUT because it is likely not true at all, however we are attaching our worth to our thoughts rather than recognizing consciousness as its own entity. By believing that each thought we have is indicative of the reality is both selfish and potentially debilitating.
You see, physiologically stress is stress. It doesn't know the difference between being chased and feeling like no one will ever love you. Both of those things feel like DANGER DANGER DANGER. To find a sense of inner peace, it is important to understand consciousness. Consciousness is your ability to witness surroundings, the thoughts you have, and the actions you take over your thoughts and surroundings. It is the opportunity to step back and choose a better reaction. Some of you might relate this to cognitive behavior therapy.
When we are completely unaware of our ability to think and act off of our thoughts, or we call our experiences truth and allow them to dictate our thoughts we begin to identify as our thoughts, and therefore increase the likelihood of feeling like we can drown amongst these thoughts. We become the victim to these thoughts.
PLEASE READ THAT AGAIN. As it is very fucking complicated.
My tools for this, in no particular order:
Sam Harris and the Waking Up APP.
People often say to me "But you're not afraid of anything"... I want to be clear that I am afraid of a lot of things. I just made. choice a long time ago to not let the fear shine through.
One of the first things I recognized and loved about jiu jitsu is that emotions are always running the show, and if we want to be better, we have to be somewhat aware and in charge of our emotions.
If you are reading this and do not train martial arts, apply this concept to your job, relationships, goals, eating habits, sleeping habits, etc.
Recently I have been faced with the unpleasant reality that my history with abusive relationships has the potential to deeply impact my training sessions. This is definitely a double edged sword because that history gives me an incredibly high tolerance for discomfort and patience while also having a myriad of triggers about potential dangers involved in contact sports. Maybe I love the controlled violence of jiu jitsu because I am much more comfortable with the acts of violence than with acts of gentle love, and maybe I fell in love with jiu jitsu because at least I am in control of putting myself consciously in these situations. And that is the point of this specific blog post, to create space to reflect on how you have emotionally developed, and how those developments impact when you train, fight, win, and lose.
Weaknesses stem from blind spots, those moments where you are caught off guard by not only an action but the way that you react to that action. In Sam Harris's meditations he speaks of "turning attention upon itself" or "looking for the looker". This can be a difficult concept to grasp at first because we are forced to separate ourselves from our mind. We are neither the mind, nor are we the reactions to the mind. Instead we are consciousness and in that consciousness we can observe what external circumstances cause the mind to think and then watch the reactions that follow the thoughts. This kind of separation really helps us take note of how beneficial our reactions are and whether we should adjust them to improve our quality of life.
Still with me?
I think this concept can be so fucking challenging but the work you do to get there strengthens who you are by leaps and bounds. So, even if you do not get it right away, keep rolling the idea around within your head. And if you want to know more about this I highly recommend getting the Waking Up app by Sam Harris and diving into this idea a bit more.
Repetition is helpful for grasping any technique or concept.
In retrospect, I used to think that my thoughts were who I was. Because I perceived them as my reality I was always at the mercy of my external circumstances.
The gift of abuse was that it made me so wildly uncomfortable that to survive I needed to learn that there is a dialogue behind each thought and each reaction. Many of those dialogues were fear based. I was always worried that someone was going to hurt me while at the same time having a very high tolerance for what was hurtful. After all, once you have a boyfriend who threatens to run the car into a telephone pole in hopes of killing you both, a little man handling in jiu jitsu is nothing.
But actually, it is something. What if that man handling escalates into a sense of ownership over my life? And what if the person man handling me is not mindful of the extent in which they are using strength and force? Isn't it possible that I could very easily end up with a serious injury or a life threatening situation? And just like that, my sympathetic state is triggered and I feel like I am at the mercy of someone else's lack of emotional irresponsibility. Stuck fight or flight mode, I am now spiraling into fear.
This, (being man-handled), may not be the case at all. In fact I may not even be getting man handled, I might just be tired and under fed and so my capacity for discomfort is lower. Also, I may be getting man handled by someone who gives zero fucks about my as a training partner that day because they are stuck in their own head. OR chances are, it is a little bit of both.
To work through this and understand what is what I have to have this conversation with myself, and potentially with someone else. To have a conversation with someone else I must first be capable of slightly understanding my own feelings. Reality is not my feelings. Though feelings are valid, reality exists when you communicate your reality with the people involved and then begin to understand their reality. Reality is in the communication of the circumstances and the ability of each person involved to understand the circumstances or their own inner world and that reality exists outside of their inner world. The person that we are communicating with must also have the ability to think through the layers.
Sounds like a rabbit hole huh? It is.
Emotional responsibility and becoming right with ourselves can be an exhaustive process. It not only requires us to be accountable for ourselves but it requires the people around us to be accountable to themselves as well.
"Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those who are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one: men learn as they teach" ~ Seneca
Though you may not feel like you have enough control, you have more than you think. If you are looking for the most basic way to remind yourself of that set reminders all over the place to take a couple of deep slow breaths. It may not sound profound, but it is. A few deep breaths will remind you to step back into the present moment as well as calming your nervous system down.