Re-Thinking Personal Transformation
I write this with a deep frustration, sadness and passion. It feels very much of the age to strive for ‘transformation’. There are endless groups on how you can change your life, lots of literature on thinking positive (my book at some level) or healing, therapists and life coaches that can help you to be something different. I’m not saying they don’t work — they do. I just feel they give of a false idea about change.
The Cambridge dictionary defines the word Transform “to change completely the appearance or character of something or someone”. You see, this is where I believe transformation is a lie. As a culture, we get lost and look for distractions such as over working, intense relationships, alcohol, drugs or financial security to fill a void. There is a sense that those distractions can somehow fix us. We can get so lost in the thoughts that go round and round in our brains, that we have that feeling that we need to transform who we are. Of course, I am not saying here that transformation does not exist, it does — scientifically. Look at how a caterpillar can cleverly morph into a butterfly or how water, depending on the environment, can be a gas, liquid or a solid.
As a well-being consultant and author, I consistently see and hear people say, ‘if only I could feel enough/ be happier/ calmer/ less stressed/ richer/ better decision maker or have a better self-esteem..’ I see people trying to find utopia, and never feeling happy in who they are or what they are doing. I see emotions of anger and fear sabotaging opportunities and keeping people sick. I’ve caught myself doing it… if I could be ‘more’ successful then I would feel enough. But how do we really measure ‘enough’. What does ‘enough’ really mean?! But, I digress..
You’ve all heard of the book or seen the film, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ where the lead female character played by Julia Roberts goes to Bali in search of herself, as if it is some tangible thing.
The truth is, you don’t have to look far to ‘find yourself’. It’s the Dorothy effect. Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, woke up in Oz and wanted to find a way home — ‘Oh if only she could find a way home’. Curious and desperate, she sought a way to find home. Making friends along the way, she was told to ‘follow the yellow brick road’ to get home. When actually, though unknown to her, she had the tools to get home all along. All she had to do was tap her shoes together three times and say “There is no place like home” and there, she was home!
Of course this fictional story has many metaphors. There’s the journey she took, the people she met and the battles she faced. Here, I use it to illustrate that it’s not about transformation, that is a lie. Stop what you are doing. Drop into your being. Find solace in you! It can be hard, but as we practice, it gets easier. This is a skill, which amazingly can be learnt.
As children we are curious, open, free, alive and powerful. Then our societal influences change us or generations of trauma can be passed down and influence us or it may even be that your own environment was a damaging one. Whatever the cause, we go into our heads which causes a dis-connect between our mind and body. We become disconnected from our power which can cause us to not be ourselves. By power, I mean the strength in holding the truth about who we really are as well as taking into account every part of ourselves, in mind and body (yes, and even spirit).
You see, we aren’t really transforming, we just need to re-connect our mind and our body. It can be difficult to re-connect as we carry so much in our bodies. If you think about what your body has experienced from day one, every memory it holds, every accident you’ve had, every heartbreak, every job promotion, every bit of stimuli around you… it’s a lot. So there! We do not need to transform anything. We just need to re-align and rewire our neural pathways. Getting back in touch with that curious, open and powerful place you once knew as a child. Okay, so you might ask ‘how do we re-connect to ourselves?’
Firstly, silence your mind and listen to that little voice, the one that silently whispers to you, the one that tells you that a situation is going to be okay or something is not quite right with the person you met on tinder or your boss is asking you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with and you have this internal conflict. Sometimes this little voice is so quiet you can barely hear it. You might call it an alarm bell, or a gut feel. Some might have spiritual associations with it. Whatever you associate it as — listen to it.
Secondly, practice some activities that help you to come into your body (in fact, I have 49 tools in my book, One Minute Miracles). Here are four tips from my book to get you started.
#1 — Just Stop
That’s it — just stop — simple! Stop everything you are doing for a few minutes and be still. Feel your feet on the ground. Take in your scenery. Engage your five senses. Notice your breath. Listen to your heart. Keep it very simple. Be-Here-Now.
#2 — Breathe Deep
This will help you to be calm, come into your body and regulate your nervous system, by bringing your body back into homeostasis. Take a deep breath in for three seconds and then breathe out for six seconds — repeat until you are out of your head and notice the calm in your body.
#3 — Listen to Your Body
Our nervous system dysregulates due to past and present fears or stresses. We manage this fear by living in our heads, focusing instead on finances, relationships or work, yet not being present to what are bodies are saying. Notice and track the changes and sensations in your body. What is it telling you that it needs or doesn’t need? Listen to your body when making decisions.
#4 — Allow Your Feelings
Culturally we have a stiff upper lip towards feeling and accepting our feelings. It’s important we allow them to come up and honour them without judging or acting on them. Unfelt feelings can lead to stress, anxiety, sickness, auto-immune diseases, depression and more. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that come up and respect what your body wishes to do.
Obviously there is so much more that you can do; meditate, engage your creative mind and say affirmations to yourself — daily! Write a gratitude list, share your authentic self or take yourself out of your comfort zone. If you practice these with intention and purpose, you will notice a huge difference. Voila! You are still you but you’re not trying to be something else. Some of these exercises helped me come through PTSD, Dyslexia and Tourette’s. Notice how amazing you are. What does it feel like to be in your body and experience all of you? By practicing these, anxiety lessens, we feel calmer, we make better decisions and the voice of health becomes louder. In the same way water is still water, even if it is a gas, solid or a liquid, you are still you!
* A lot of us have trauma. This is serious and should be looked at professionally. Seek help or at the very least start reading Peter Levine’s, Waking the Tiger. If you wish to discuss getting a health program, a workshop on resilience or social intelligence please feel free to contact me via my website.