“If you want something in your life you’ve never had,
You’ll have to do something you’ve never done.”
Trying new things is most often an uncomfortable experience. Some brave, adventurous, and possibly kooky individuals have come to enjoy living in that uncomfortable place. It seems life would be adventurous and exciting if I was happy to live in that often uncomfortable place of the wild unknown. Alas, I am not. I am pretty big on comfortable, known, and expected outcomes. It suits me fine! Thank you very much.
Except, I now am building a career as a healer and teacher. Something I have not done before, and I can feel the uncertainty of it, A LOT! How do you know how to do what you have not done before? I do a lot of the expected, rational things like ask questions of people who have gone before me, read lots of books, try lots of ideas, and do my best to trust my gut. I rely on that last one a lot! I put a lot of stock in how things sit with me, like how I feel when meeting a new person.
In the recent Spring Manifestations class we spent a lot of time getting in touch with what we feel like internally and using that internal state as a guide to what we want to manifest in our lives. We spoke about what happens when what we think we want brings up a fearful reaction in our bodies. How spending some time feeling that fear can help us begin to tease apart anticipatory or unfamiliar feelings of fear vs. a flashing red beacon from the Universe to turn around and look for another path. We also realized how many of us were facing those grown up decisions where there is no “right” answer. The decisions you kind of wish someone else would make for you. How do you know what to choose when everything feels scary or not quite right?
I saw a film called “The Thought Exchange” which so thoroughly examines this dilemma. First of all, a distinction between feelings and sensations is made. Feelings such as happy, sad, or mad are labels we attach to sensations we experience in our bodies. Uncomfortable or painful sensations are so unpleasant that we most often exchange the thoughts that brought them up for ones that make us feel more familiar or comfortable. These uncomfortable sensations almost always show up when we envision for ourselves attaining or creating something new in our lives. For example, “I am creating a financially successful business doing work that I love,” becomes “I will never create a financially successful business doing work that I love.” Why would we make a switch like that? How could it ever feel better to believe this negative thought? Well, if the idea of creating a financially successful business feels new and challenging and scary, maybe even impossible. Then the thought, “I will never create a financially successful business” feels much safer and less overwhelming. In this way we unconsciously sell ourselves down the river. Foregoing what we truly desire so we can feel comfortable, even when what feels comfortable doesn’t feel good.
If we can, moment by moment, feel the sensations and do it anyway, that is how we cross the bridge from where we are to where we want to be. Sit with the uncomfortable sensations without needing to attach labels or thoughts to them. If you absolutely have to you can make up new labels that serve you better. Instead of sick with anxiety, how about giddy with anticipation?
There is a cute example of an exercise people try at the Thought Exchange workshops. Someone pretends to be working behind the counter at the Thought Exchange Department Store. Another participant is encouraged to approach the counter and exchange a thought. In this example, the customer comes up to the counter and says, “Hello, I would like to exchange the thought, ‘I’m a piece of crap’.” The woman behind the counter says, “Yes, okay and what would you like to exchange it for?” The customer says, “I would like to try ‘I am an amazing person with limitless potential’.” The woman behind the counter says, “Yes, no problem. Here you are” and pretends to take one box away and replace it with another. The customer walks out with the thought, “I am an amazing person with limitless potential.” I encourage you to play with this exercise next time you are thinking that something is impossible or never going to happen. Sit with a different thought for a moment and see if the sensations you experience in your body change. This has been a fun way for me to begin noticing the difference between something that truly “Doesn’t feel right” and something that just feels uncomfortable or intimidating because I haven’t done it before.