Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain
Yes, indeed, we feel a sea change is on its way and, yes, another analogy coming up. That’s OK because this series has evolved around the metaphor of a raft (our ego-persona), the only physical and mental support we have as we, separately and collectively, chart a course towards our desire-rainbow, the place of contentment/bien-etre et joie de vivre, we want to reach—the place of inner calm we want to make our own.
The place we want for ourselves and the place to which we want to bring those for whom we care – and should care – most.
Our emotional landscape provides us with plenty of storms and ‘high seas’. Adding to that, for many of us, our family members are also our ‘rough seas’.
They are the ones who know more about us without truly knowing much about us at all.
However, as our parents went about raising us, they did their best to shape us into fine children who would grow up as fine teenagers who would one day become fine adults and have a fine family of their own – if only according to their own checklist.
The emotional mindset parents instill in their toddlers is reinforced throughout the many moments contained in the many years they live at home.
It could be argued that parents indoctrinate their children – for their greater good, of course.
The problem is that the presumed ‘greater good’, when interpreted according to one’s biased filters, often results in the form of emotional manipulation that is not always beneficial to the adults that the former children have become.
And, of course, that dissonance between upbringing and optimal responses to stimuli comes at a cost.
First, to the doee.
Later, to the doer.
Both become exposed to conflagrating divergent views and aspirations.
In any case, our siblings and our early childhood friends, our relatives and teachers are so many parts of the team that has set us on our life path. As young ego-personas already laden with many beliefs of mixed value, we set out into the outer reality of adulthood.
And here we are today.
Fully formed, we are, but not entirely in charge of the tiller that moves the rudder under our raft.
Regardless of our potential, we are ill-prepared to turn our raft away from rips, dipping and crashing waves, and rocks hidden beneath the surface.
The wind is not always going the same way as us, so we have to make compromises. We understand that, but we don’t always know how to make healthy ones.
In the absence of a reliable wind indicator on our little raft, untrained in the art of reading movement of the clouds, we often find ourselves sailing into a contrary wind.
Turning across the wind to switch from one tack to the other is often problematic.
Reality check: we don’t always know how to deviate from our chartered course to avoid unsafe conditions and collisions.
We don’t always know when to approach tempestuous encounters with enough healthy confidence.
We don’t know how to source out the best shelter.
We seldom give ourselves the time to ponder the best response here and now.
We don’t know how to be still.
First response: as simple as it is difficult and essential, when we feel pricked by someone’s comment or response, we cancel the autopilot that whirs in our head and grips our stomach.
We make ourselves breathe in and out, gently and deeply.
As we do, we remember our favourite calming gatha (as discussed in the first article of this series, Chasing Our Rainbow).
Here is one I have just now made up to show you, dear Reader, how easy it is to create our own gatha.
Slow inhale: I sense impending nastiness in the words of the other.
Slow exhale: Breath constricted; I am not in the moment.
Slow inhale: I see that person as frightened toddler.
Slow exhale: As I exhale, I am in the moment.
I smile to myself.
Reality check: of course! Any process that demands we really dig in and take a deep soul-searching dive into the past 10, 20 30 decades cannot be easy as disinfecting a virtual wound and applying stitches.
It cannot be quick.
It cannot be painless.
It cannot … NOT be messy and complicated.
Of course, there are many daily wellness providers devoted to supporting us as we commit to improving our mental, spiritual, and physical health.
However, beyond being encouraged to surrender to the wisdom of uncertainty, it is unlikely that a new persona, a new us, will emerge as promised like a larva out of its chrysalid upon completion of any online course.
That said, of course, we might get our money’s worth of ‘aha’ moments and, yes, of course, a well-delivered course is likely to prompt us to dig deeper in the hope of, one day, tapping into the personality that is authentic and unique to us.
Quick-fixes offer short term relief, yes, but we know quick-fixes do not create sustainable shifts.
We also know that the longer the stem, the longer the root, the more tenacious the plant, the more difficult it is to uproot. And so, it is with the patterns we have allowed to consolidate in our brain.
Bottom line: unless the targeted conundrum stems from a reasonably new complication, one should best prepare for a long-haul expedition into the unknown world of tangible possibilities.
Knowing that time is the indefinite, continued progress of existence, how to define quick when it comes to progress made?
How to define slow?
Either quick or slow is the time it takes for our raft, our ego-persona in this context, to find its way safely to the most brilliant part of our desire-rainbow.
At first, the little wave that would otherwise have toppled us overboard quietly slips under the hull of our raft.
Never to be felt again.
This is the beginning of the celebration of our personal control over the ‘elements’.
There is no such thing as a ‘little’ victory.
Reality check: every moment conquered from the heart brings us closer to our desired destination.
True mastery of rafting begins with the management of the currents.
Of submerged rocks.
Of the winds.
Of greater, stronger, faster waves.
Of their peaks.
Of their troughs.
As we trim down our little sails, we trim down our objective to bite-sized, new habits,
We anchor new habits like refraining from judging anyone – anyone.
We remember the golden rule to treat others as we would like them to treat us.
We refrain from gossiping about anyone.
About anyone at all.
We refrain from complaining.
We don’t look for scapegoats to whom we might want to shout, ‘See what YOU made me do?’
Instead, we cultivate the understanding that after all – and no matter what – our glass is more than half-full.
It’s true. It is.
We develop the courage to tell those whose behaviour is hurting us that we feel the hurt.
We forgive even the ones who have wronged us.
Like us, at one time or another, they managed themselves the only way that came to their mind at the time.
We develop a new form of courage, too.
Like that of saying sorry – a heartfelt sorry – even when we’re not totally at fault.
Though we don’t have the luxury of dropping anchor anywhere, we do anchor our intentions.
We acknowledge each of the moments handled as best as we could … in the moment underfoot.
We celebrate ourselves so whole-heartedly that our mind gets the message that doing ‘it’ in that new way is what makes us happiest.
Bottom line: the combination of What-IS and our moment-by-moment response to it creates a new reality. It, then, creates the (positive, neutral or negative) consequence of how we handled an earlier moment.
The new moment underfoot is the upshot of how we turned the raft to the wind or against the wind.
It’s the result of how we managed the tiller and the rudder.
It’s the results of the choices we made, there and then, in the moment underfoot – moment after moment.
When it comes to unsatisfactory outcomes, our ego-persona prefers to blame the wind, the current or the nastiness of submerged rocks. And so, for our judgment errors and our Me-first attitude to life, we blame all aspects of the outer world.
We blame those we love or should love.
We blame those we could trust and rely on.
We blame strangers near and far.
And we excuse ourselves for feeling how we feel, think and act by casting blame for all manner of our addictions on social culture.
Reality check: blaming is a response to events that prick us for unconscious reasons buried deep in our psyche.
Therefore, one of our tasks as we aspire to come of age is to identify the source of our discomfort.
Not to blame the past, but to become aware of what we are feeling, thinking and doing.
The flow-on task is to find a coherent way to talk ourselves into consciousness.
Serious questions #1: do we ‘want’ to evolve our ego-persona, or do we feel we have to ‘do’ something?
Or do we feel we ‘have to’ evolve because we ‘want’ to innovate and open up to possibilities previously not considered?
Heads up: ideally, we are seeking to engineer a shift that will allow, out of the left field, unknown possibilities into our current reality.
Serious questions #2: what are we ready to commit to achieving in the next 6 months?
To achieve this specific, time-bound, short-term goal, what is that foremost disempowering habit that we are aiming to remove, delete, cancel or call out firmly and loudly?
We break down the task in manageable bits, as we would do for a much-loved child.
We anchor our intentions before we show up.
We anchor our new habits as we activate them.
We breathe consciously, slowly for as long as we can.
When we do, our lungs send the signal to our brain that we are OK.
We chart our progress on the long-very long continuum of personal evolution.
We honour every slight positive shift.
We celebrate every success, however small, with the same beaming smile we had as toddlers managing our first steps successfully. With the same smile we have anytime ‘we’ feel proud of what we have done – however inconsequential it might seem to others.
While on the long-haul expedition towards Life – karmically empowered to live it – we envision the impact of our inner-outer conscious mindset.
We energise our vision.
It’s worth repeating that there are no such things as small or unimportant shifts.
Heads up: as we would encourage a much-loved child in need of reassurance and comfort, we talk to ourselves.
Holistic self-maintenance begins with supporting ourselves as we would like to be supported by others.
Should we not quite succeed in our micro-shifts today, we make peace with whatever came to pass.
Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow will provide us with the training we need to generate some ‘good’ stress.
Reality check: we need to get out of our head that we are grown-up and adults being the age we’ve reached.
Yes, we’ve learnt a few essential things along the way, skills, mostly. But our brain, the human brain, always remains wired in the same manner, no matter our age.
Left to its own devices, its wiring deepens but does not change.
Our default mind is our ‘toddler mind’.
As when we were very young, our brain, and therefore our mind, thrives as always when it assesses the landscape as safe.
When it feels heard.
And so, we support and encourage ourselves through any situation in the way we would like to be loved today.
In the way we would have loved to be heard, seen, protected and encouraged – loved – by our own parents.
In this pursuit of inner/outer holistic wellness lies our purpose in this lifetime.
Carole Claude Saint-Clair©2021
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