Fork In the Road
I have energetic holding patterns, in my mind and in my body, that are familiar. I have a strong sense of self generated in relation to these holding patterns. I create my ME with a story that runs through my mind on repeat, and that sometimes spills out of my mouth as words that I use to describe myself to others.
This story effects how I stand and how I breathe, how I make choices, and how I experience the world around me.
Some parts of the story, others gave to me long ago, before I new how to filter and decide my own truths. Other parts of the story I created myself.
These mental and physical habits are easy to remember and I find it effortless to collapse back into them. Through repetition and familiarity they are my default. They are my normal.
Then I read books and hear new, inspiring ideas about healthier, happier mental and physical habits and I light up briefly inside, thinking, “YES, that is who I want to be”.
Trouble is, I feel great internal resistance to letting go of the old and therefore being able to experience the new.
The momentum of the old feels so solid and so real and so POWERFUL. Those energetic mental and physical habits feel like what is real and the new, just like someone else’s nice idea. Someone else’s possibilities and good fortune.
So sometimes I feel stuck at this fork in the road between who I am now and who I would like to be. Because, I can’t be both the old and the new at the same time. I can’t stand up straight and slouch at the same time. I can’t be patient and impatient at the same time. I can’t binge eat and eat mindfully at the same time. I can’t be worthless and worthy at the same time. I can’t be mundane and enlightened at the same time. Etc….
Eventually I have to choose between the two stories, between the two versions of ME. I have to decide, to which thoughts I am going to listen, and which thoughts I am going to shut down.
I have to change the story, because the story is everything.
If I continually recite the old story, I can’t be anything else. However much I want to be a calm person, if I continually recite “I am an anxious person”, to myself and to everyone I meet, I can not be anything other than an anxious person.
Some days, affirmations feel good to recite. Other days, they get completely shut down internally by the old stories saying, “No way…that’s not YOU.”
So for now, I am trying to change the story, the internal descriptors of my ME, to words which describe the transition phase I am in, rather than affirmations describing the positive endpoints that don’t yet feel authentic. “I am learning patience” vs “I have perfect patience.”
I have to be sly sometimes and subtle, so my old habits don’t get too riled up and shut the whole thing down.
The thing is, the thoughts aren’t as solid or strong as they seem. They seem like sound vibrations only, nothing solid at all. To be honest, I don’t really even know what thoughts actually are. Why then, do I give them so much authority? They come to life only when I identify with them.
By interrupting the old narrative when it arises, whenever I am able, I syphon away some of the energy supporting it, and I offer it to a new narrative. In those moments, a new ME emerges in my mind. Because this new me is based on transition and evolution, there is a feeling of energy moving again, instead of energy feeling stuck and locked in the old patterns.
Each time I do this, I take a step down the other fork in the road. I test it out, see if it feels better. I prove the new, through the improved quality of my own experience. I prove the new thoughts are safe and reliable and heaven forbid, joy-inducing. I create a new default, a new normal.
Now slouching doesn’t feel like what is comfortable anymore. Now mistakes are allowed and there is flexibility and there are options. I have found a new normal. I find more and more comfort and relief from healthy choices rather than relying on numbness and distraction as coping mechanisms. I breathe deeper. I say, “This is me.”
Of course, I still default to the old, familiar fork in the road and try to ignore that any other option exists, but I can’t escape the knowing of my own experience. The new fork waits patiently for me to try it out again. Each time I venture along it, it feels more and more familiar and easier to get to. Even a brief, momentary absence of the old me, sets off ripples and waves, sometimes tsunamis through my mind and presents endless possibilities of all that I can accomplish.
I often need help from others, family, friends, counsellors, teachers, to get back on to this other path, but ultimately the choice is always mine. The stronger choice or wish will always win out.
My mind can’t hold opposite ideas at the same time.
I imagine how amazing it must feel to become so familiar with the new mental and physical energetic holding patterns, that they become what is habitual, and easy to remember, and effortless. Through repetition and familiarity they are becoming the default. They are becoming the normal. An old story growing dim. A new story growing louder. A new me arises.