Confession time. I have had a lot of difficulties trusting life lately.
I joke about this a lot on social media, but it’s true. This season of life has rocked my previous foundation, in the most destructive and beautiful way possible. I know I’m not alone in this, as so many people are feeling their previous foundations crumbling.
The best analogy for this was last week, when my three-year-old son found my old headshot from my acting days, and drew all over it with a black marker, paying special attention to blacking out the eyes. Then my 10-month old started tearing it apart with her teeth, chewing on the pieces and spitting them out. They were quite literally destroying my previous self.
“I made you beautiful Mommy!” my three-year-old cried.
Of course, I had to laugh, because his words were true in a way.
They are making me more beautiful.
But even in that “becoming”, I have found myself belly flopping into the undertow of my own mind, my own fears, my “not enoughness” and my ego, all the while teaching and coaching OTHERS how to swan dive into presence, enoughness and intuition.
The polarity is obvious.
And while my capacity for love and patience has grown exponentially and I’m sometimes blown away at the mama and coach I am capable of being, my shadow self-has been lurking in the corner of the room. And she has returned lately, likely because I’m in a pretty vulnerable space in my life. There is so much change and upheaval to my constructed self; a fortress thirty some odd years in the making.
She yammers on and on about:
My fear of never quite living up to my potential or my dreams.
My fear of being ordinary.
My fear of screwing up my kids, of not being present or intentional enough.
My fear of own inability to walk the walk I tell others to walk. My hypocrisy.
My fear of not being a good friend. Of never having or maintaining the intimate friendships I crave.
My fear of disappointing people, of not being who they thought I was.
My fear of being innately selfish and self-serving.
The old mantra surfaces…you should be more evolved. You need to be waaaaaaaaay more evolved than you are if you are coaching people on this level.
I know, however, that I can only lead others through the valleys when I, myself, have walked them, so I am doing my best to see this seeming “dip in my evolvement” as a big ole gift and give myself the same words of encouragement I give others.
Growth is not linear.
Just because we have the knowledge or the awareness of how to start to change, doesn’t mean we are super proficient yet at implementing that knowledge into aligned action or belief.
We need practice. Lots of it. We need to fall, experience how that feels, and get back up again. It is a spiritual and mental muscle that needs to be worked with incredible consistency and the strength of that muscle may shift and change depending on the circumstances of our lives on a given day. What we are capable of can literally shift every day, so we have to be kind to ourselves as we learn.
During ANY change process, there are four distinct stages. This is often called the “learning matrix,” “the four stages of learning” or the “conscious competence ladder.”
So, let’s look at this through the lens of self-actualization (the realization and fulfillment of our own potential).
In this phase, we simply don’t know what we don’t know. We are essentially sleep-walking in a certain area (or perhaps every area) of our lives. We may not understand our own truth, our own emotional life, how our thought process and conditioning is creating our stuckness and pain. We are living reactively instead of intentionally. We see our problems at eye level (I’m overweight, I have an issue with food, I can’t keep a healthy relationship) and assume that THESE things are the problem instead of seeing how everything connects from a helicopter view.
In this phase, we are waking up. We are seeing how everything connects. We become aware of how our past, our perspectives, our choices, have led us to where we are. We become aware that there is a new way to operate, that there are new tools, that much of the problem is living in our perception, our unhealed wounds, our stories and our own personal responsibility. We recognize that we have choice and agency in how we respond to life, that we have the ability to start to create our own reality. Yet, we are not proficient yet in implementing this awareness consistently in our lives. This is still brand new!
We are getting better at this! We are able to make choices that align with our intentions more often, that are more aware, awake, where we take radical levels of experience for our own lives, see real forward momentum. Consistency falls into place. But we still have to try. We still have to constantly notice, to choose. We still struggle. We may still fall from time to time, and when we do it really sucks. It is not quite yet second nature yet.
We are enlightened beings who never have any problems. Woohoo!
Ha! Yeah, none of us ever get to that last phase. Well, I suppose a few have (Jesus, Buddha, Tony Robbins). But in all seriousness, we become very adept at living a deeply meaningful and wholehearted life, without having to think about it or really try. Our ability to align with our higher selves, our wisdom and our intuition become second nature. We rely on our present moment genius to guide us, rather than our past pain. We recognize our fear and triggers but don’t act out of them regularly, we don’t pass on our unprocessed pain onto others and we live intentionally, therefore creating more impact, and fulfilling more of our potential. We love bigger and deeper. We are more courageous. We experience more purpose.
Conscious incompetence can be DEEPLY uncomfortable. We still feel so far away from alignment feeling like second nature.
Conscious Competence can also be super uncomfortable. We have tasted our potential, but acting in its favor is not quite second nature yet, and we may still make some costly mistakes.
It is much more uncomfortable to wake up, and then slip back into sleepwalking. Before, we didn’t even know that sleepwalking was a thing!
It is much more painful to experience empowerment with food, to feel amazing in your body, to let go of the dieting and THEN to enter into a period of obsessive dieting than it would be to just go on a diet in the first place.
It’s more acutely painful to experience love and then lose it, than if you had never had the opportunity to love in that way.
It’s more uncomfortable to recognize your own power and then squander it away than it is to assume your own powerlessness.
It’s uncomfortable for a reason.
The tighter the coat gets on the old way of being, the more likely you are to finally take it off. The more likely you are to take a risk, to take a leap, to let go of the trapeze bar you have been holding onto and actually fly for a bit.
Our contraction always precedes our expansion. It requires us to dig deeper, to muster up more strength, to go to corners we wouldn’t have explored before.
The transition between the couple stages usually take the longest as we learn how to implement our awareness on a mastery level, so we need to be patient with ourselves.
I’m uncomfortable right now because I know the perspectives I’m sinking into are a choice.
I can see clearly when I’m operating out of fear; making the choice to shut down, to lash out, to obsess over fear-based stories. I can see what it costs me.
The discomfort is a damn good thing.
Without it, I would keep swimming in the shallow waters of conscious incompetence instead of the deep end toward unconscious competence. I would get complacent. I would get cynical. I would get sucked into the undertow and wouldn’t even know it.
Every day, I’m forced to go deeper inside, into the wells of deep stillness and love. Sometimes, oftentimes, against my will. And every day, this increases my capacity for stillness and love, and my ability to become not only competent but masterful.
I am learning to be more self-compassionate. I am learning what it means to truly love myself, possibly for the first time.
I am learning from my own incompetence, and you are too.
My soul is stretching right now and so is my potential, but it’s causing some friction in my body and mind.
It’s okay that I’m uncomfortable. It’s okay if you are too because you can see your own shadow, it is a good indication that the light is right behind you.
Rock On & Be Well,