“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything, maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
When you watch an innocent child enter this world you can see them for what they truly are, love. As you look forward to their future it’s filled with hope, endless possibilities, and limitless potential to be chased. Yet somehow, the more you lived your life, that perception of yourself was lost amongst experiences. Hope was traded in for fear, endless possibilities for the known territory of safety, limitless potential for the limited skill set you’ve already acquired.
So what is the difference between your life and the life of a brand new human arriving into the world? They haven’t been shaped by the opinions, restrictions, and defeatist attitudes of the environment around them. But there is something that you have that they must wait years to attain and that’s the wisdom to know you always have a choice.
Humans have the greatest compass of all- emotions, yet we are rarely taught how to utilize them for our benefit. If you are happy, excited, satisfied you are enjoying the moment. If you are sad, afraid, frustrated you are not enjoying the moment. The problem lies with where you place your focus during this time. Most people don’t allow themselves to appreciate and live in the positive feeling emotions because they begin to shift their attention to the fact that it is fleeting. Rather than basking in all the goodness flowing, the focus is on knowing it will be over soon. For the most part, people treat negative emotions differently with way more attention to detail, visualizing future outcomes and fueling the emotion’s fire. Rather than acknowledging that this emotion is also fleeting, the attention instead is focused on how much worse it can get.
Leading with Love or Fear
There are only two choices we make: those rooted in love or in fear. Choices made in fear are a combination of not knowing what will happen next and allowing the outside world’s opinions to penetrate your beliefs. The fearful ones will keep you sheltered from the unknown as a means of protection. The mind and the body have evolved to keep you safe and out of harms way, therefore it is constantly on the lookout for what makes you feel uneasy. Whether it’s a life-threatening reason to be afraid or one that will be incredibly embarrassing, it’s registered as something to stay away from. The mind speaks to the body by sending physical sensations to the body as signals that something wrong is about to happen, such as sweaty palms, tightening of the chest or heart palpitations. The goal of the mind and body system is to keep you away from what you fear, even if life is completely safe.
The choices rooted in love come from the heart and the soul, speaking to the desires that are innate within your being. When you make a decision to lead with love you bring yourself closer to who you’re becoming, which is really who you’ve always been. This doesn’t necessarily mean that each choice made in love will be easy to walk toward but they will feel right. Choices in love are led by your inner voice or intuition, this is different from the self-talk that happens in the mind. Intuition is a feeling of alignment or misalignment about behaviors or choices being made, whereas self-talk can be a mixture of doubt, fear, insecurity, and curiosity. To understand whether you are leading with love or with fear, bring awareness to your body as you consider your choices. If you’re feeling tension, dis-ease, and contracting your muscles-that is rooted in fear. If you’re feeling open, relaxed, and embracing the thought-that is your intuition. Always move forward with love and you’ll be led to what’s meant for you.
How to Use Your Emotional Compass
As always the first step to creating change, particularly an emotional or behavioral one, is by becoming aware of that which needs changing. Considering this is a habit you’ve picked up throughout your life it’ll be difficult to even remember to try and shift your thinking on it. So you need a trigger.
A trigger is something that alerts you when an emotion or behavior is prompted to occur. Personally I’ve struggled with emotional eating, whenever I began to feel a strong emotion occur I feel the urge to eat something. It’s a momentary pleasure that tricks my mind into thinking I’ll feel better once I act on the impulse. The trigger is the emotion, the impulse is to eat. Once I began to raise my awareness of what was causing the urge I was able to stay ahead of the feeling. Now it’s time to find what it is that’s triggering you, the following practice can be used for negative or positive emotion.
In your mind’s eye begin to think of a time in the past where you were happy. Get as specific as possible with this memory by bringing your 5 senses into the mix. Bring to mind what you were wearing, if you were eating or drinking something, take note of the temperature and any sounds around you. Remember how long that feeling of happiness lasted and whether it ended abruptly.
Did a thought interrupt it? If so, what was the thought?
Was it a physical sensation in your body that shifted your focus?
Make the connection that once you’ve taken your mind off of what delivered you happiness you are now taken into your thinking mind.
You are no longer in the present moment and it’s always waiting there for you again.
Bring yourself back to the now with a deep inhale recalling the happiness you felt.
As you exhale release the focus of the thinking mind and any tension in your body.
Staying True To Who You Always Were
The babies that enter this world are at their purest form, created by, embodying, and deserving of unconditional love. They are beings of wonder, curiosity, and emerging awareness. As they enter a world they know nothing about, it is the job of the parents and loving community to nurture this child. Nurturing extends far beyond food, water, warmth, and safety- these are the essential baselines.
Another type of nourishment is allowing them to embrace the song that sings in their hearts, dance to the message within their soul, explore the world with an open curiosity in an attempt to understand without judgment. But most importantly, those who are growing up need to understand that this journey will shape them, the world around them will try to change them, people will work tirelessly to instill fear and doubt into their precious minds.
These babies that grow into the people reading this post need to know they always have a choice to remain true to who they are. The choice begins when you acknowledge that you are enough, complete, and whole as you are at this moment. I pray that you choose to believe that, today and always.