Today I want to talk about something that I think may be NO ONE'S favourite subject.
The idea that we aren't going to magically 'arrive' at our 'ideal'... anything never to experience challenge, hardship, pain or suffering ever again.
This idea of finding a perfect 'after' is rampant in spirituality, self help, self improvement and all other wellness modalities. We are a culture addicted to the idea of 'before and afters.' We love a good transformation story with a clear beginning (where life sucked) middle (where we figured it out) and end (where we did all the right things and now life is perfect.)
While it is TOTALLY possible hat we IMPROVE throughout our lives - that we discover things that lead us to greater and greater levels of health, happiness, satisfaction in our work/bodies/relationships - being told that it's possible to get to a PAIN FREE plaice is actually doing us all a disservice. Being focused on finding 'the thing' that's going to deliver us from ALL suffering, all struggle, all insecurity and chaos, is blocking us from the REALITY of life. The reality that we COULD absolutely find JOY in.
We Are Looking For IT And Missing The STEPS:
Something I've witnessed in myself and many others on the awakening/healing/personal growth/self love paths, is the desire to find the RIGHT answer that will take us from where we are, in our pain and suffering, to where we want to be. To that enlightened, whole, healed, integrated place. We are all looking for the THING that will take us there - constantly bouncing between different schools of thought, teachings, teachers, practices and so on - thinking that anything that doesn’t’ take us there RIGHT NOW must be WRONG.
I’ve noticed that for most people and most things - this is simply not how reality works.
Our issues are almost always complex and multi-faceted issues, and we are complex individuals - meaning that rather than there being ‘one’ answer to any issue, suffering, misalignment, pain we are in - one ‘solution’ to find that will take us from where we are to where we want to go - instead in reality, it’s most likely that there’s going to be a JOURNEY.
A SERIES of steps and insights and ideas that will take us on the PATH from where we are to where we want to go.
The one right answer doesn’t exist.
The one right step is an illusion.
That is us trying to simplify reality when reality is almost never simple.
This is totally understandable - we WANT to believe our problems have simple solutions, that our pain can be remedied in a single right step, that we can find THE ANSWER that is the end of all of it - of course we do. But this mindset actually PREVENTS us from ever reaching that goal place we so desperately want to reach. Because it blocks us from the reality of STEPS. Many steps. A journey. A path. Much to learn and navigate and make our way through.
Life Is Climbing A Mountain - Not Quantum Jumping:
This is rather like climbing a mountain. You don’t get from basecamp to the top of the mountain in one step. There is no ‘right’ step to take that will get you from the bottom to the top. Instead, there are going to be several steps that take you from the bottom to the top.
There are going to be SEVERAL RIGHT steps, several right NEXT steps, on the journey from the bottom to the top.
The terrain and what’s required at the bottom looks nothing like the terrain and what’s required at the middle of the mountain, and what it’s going to look like near the summit.
Our journeys are contextual. What’s right for us right now is simply that - what’s right for us right now. What was right last week may no longer be viable, and what will be right in 2 months isn’t available or right right now.
Thus, if we are at the bottom looking for the RIGHT step that will take us directly to the summit - we will never get there.
Because that step doesn’t exist.
There is only the step that takes you from the base to the first steps on the mountain.
If you are looking to apply the steps that will be required of you near the summit to what you are doing at the base camp, again, you will never make progress because these two terrains require different things.
If we can look at any suffering we are in/any place we want to arrive at as a PATH rather than something that has ONE RIGHT STEP - we are more likely to see that
a) there is no step that is going to take us from here to there, rather it’s going to be a process. When we can wrap our minds around this, it can make the journey a LOT less painful and
b) it will help us RELAX the need to find perfection right now, and this will allow us to see what your NEXT step is, relative to where we are ACTUALLY at (not where we want to be), freeing us to actually TAKE that step.
This is where self love comes in.
In order to find our right next step, we have to actually embrace where we ARE.
We have to orient to the terrain we are ACTUALLY in, not the terrain we want to be in.
This is what self love does for us.
When we love ourselves JUST AS WE ARE - with no pressure to change or become better - we actually set ourselves FREE from the grips of fight or flight.
When we are pushing ourselves or looking for that right step, we are actually in a state of self rejection - even when it seems like we are just trying to help ourselves. When we EMBRACE THE SELF that exists in this moment (this isn’t the same as saying you accept the PLACE you are in, but that you accept YOURSELF as YOU ARE right here, right now) this relaxes your nervous system. This brings you into safety. In fight or flight, we cannot progress or change. We can only do what we’ve always done - that’s how our nervous systems are wired.
The ONLY way to get out of where we are is to do something NEW - and that requires SAFETY. Safety comes from self acceptance just as we are with no requirement to change.
You must be able to adequately asses yourself and your terrain to figure out your next step, and in order to that you must be PRESENT.
When you are in fight or flight you can’t be here.
You can’t be fully present.
Your focus will be dissociated or too narrow. In order to take in enough information about where you are to determine your right steps, you again must make yourself safe so as to BROADEN your vantage point of HERE. Not out there. Not narrow in. Broad view of HERE. THIS is where you will find your next step.
The paradox of self love.
Embrace who you are right here, right now. Broaden your awareness of HERE. See this place for all that IT IS.
The Way Is A STEP Not A 'Solution':
Then, to find your ‘next right step’ we simply ask ourselves “what’s the most NOURISHING and SELF SUPPORTIVE THING I can do in THIS MOMENT, from where I AM?’ Take that information you got from making yourself safe, and use that to navigate to your next most nourishing step. What do you need NOW to support yourself?
TAHT Is the answer. It may be small. Really small. Super Small. Seemingly insignificant and nothing like your goal. But it’s the right thing.
This, done over and over? That’s how you GET THERE!
If we can let go of ‘getting there now’ and rather focus on where we are and then ask ourselves what we can do in this moment, in this circumstance just as it is, that will be most supportive and nourishing for us, most what we need right now, THAT will be our path.
Keep doing that, over and over, and you will find that you get to the summit.
Just one step of ‘what’s the most nourishing and supportive thing I can do for myself as I exist in THIS moment?’ at a time.
We figure out the next right step ALWAYS by first making ourselves safe in THIS moment, in THIS place, finding that inner sense of ‘even if I never change I will still love me.’
Again, this is NOT about making the CIRCUMSTANCES ok. It’s not about trying to ‘accept’ what is in the sense that we try to tell ourselves it’s ok, we are safe when we aren’t, we aren’t hurting when we are - this is about SELF acceptance.
From this INNER SAFETY (which many not be reflected as outer safety) we then have ACCESS to our higher reasoning, feeling and understanding capacities that will help us SEE where our power is in this moment, where we couldn’t see it before. This is what INNER safety does - it helps us to really SEE our current environment - no matter how dangerous it may be - from a higher vantage point so we can make a choice for ourselves that will help move us forward.
SELF acceptance broadens our awareness and drops us into higher reasoning and sensing that leads to new action. This is how we progress from anything that hurts.
Even if that progress is again, just a shift we can make inside of ourselves when the outer world can be changed in this moment.
Knowing the terrain we are in and really grounding into what we need right now.
THIS is the path.
Safety here. 'I love me even if I never change. This isn’t my fault. I am allowed to feel how I feel. I am allowed to want something different. I am safe with ME.' This is the mantra.
Now, what do I see? What’s my perception of my place in time from a place of internal acceptance of myself?
Then, 'what’s most nourishing for me right now, in the reality I’m in?' Again this may not be the big step we want. It may not be liberation. It may not be the ‘answer.’ We may not even be able to change the external at all - but we can change inside in ways that support ourselves. To be on our own side will make any horrendous situation less painful within - you will still do what you need to do to change it when that’s available, you just will be on your own side as you do it.
When we let go of looking for how to get to the goal right now, we find the path that will lead us there. When we embrace the idea of journey, everything changes.
This goes for all of our issues. If we can let go of the idea of the perfect step, of getting from where we are to where we want to go DIRECTLY, we will paradoxically be getting ourselves there as fast as possible.
Because the FASTEST route to where we want to go is just doing the next step.
Just the next thing on the path.
One step at a time.
When we let go of ‘getting there now’ we can actually take the journey.
It may seem counter intuitive to stop looking for the perfect step, but it’s reality.
There is almost never a perfect step. When there is, it’s simple. You’re not searching or wondering - you can just take it. When that’s not available that usually means you are facing a journey not a step.
On a journey there is only ever the next right step from where we are.
Embracing where we actually are is part one. That’s the self love. Make it safe to be here. To be in this place you don’t want to be. Make yourself safe.
Then again, asking that question of /what’s my NEXT step?’ in the frame of looking for what’s most nourishing and supportive from WHERE WE ARE (again, not where we want to be or where we wish you were, but the actual reality of our NOW experience) and work from there.
Journey, that’s how we get there.
Embrace the path.
You will get there.
One moment of self acceptance and then nourishment at a time.