Did you know that personal development can actually become a way to feed the ego?
It’s true. The beautiful thing about personal development is that you end up gaining such an incredible level of self-awareness, but too often, I see people use that awareness to go deeper into the ego…and they get more and more trapped in their own minds.
When I say trapped in their minds, this is what I mean: think about how it feels when you’re spiraling. When you’re consumed with how others are perceiving you and what others think about you, it feels like you spend a lot of time upstairs—upstairs meaning in your head. And to me, liberation exists in your connection to the body.
That is how this personal development journey has been for me. I’ve found myself moving from head to body, and that is a really great place to be.
I wish that for everyone listening to this podcast. My greatest hope for you is that you move from head to body.
So, what do I mean when I say head to body? I mean that when we live in our bodies, we truly inhabit our bodies. We feel what’s going on within us, what matters to us, what emotions we’re experiencing…we experience the world on a different level than ever before.
When we’re stuck in our minds, we end up entertaining a lot of preconceived notions about ourselves and about others.
We make everything mean something. And on top of that, I would argue that we become more separate from others and separate from ourselves when the majority of our time is spent in our heads rather than inhabiting our bodies.
Anybody who’s ever experienced trauma knows that trauma often causes you to disconnect from your body. You no longer see your body as a safe place to be.
This can also happen if you simply weren’t taught how to appreciate your emotional self. Maybe you never learned the language of your body, and as a result, you don’t trust it. But I brought up the point about trauma to explain that there can be an added layer.
You can imagine that if there was violence perpetrated against your body, there’s an added layer of distrust toward that place. You don’t trust yourself to live in or inhabit your body. You feel disconnected from it, so there’s a lot of living in the mind, which can feel genuinely maddening.
Prior to doing this work, I spent the majority of my life in my head, which resulted in a lot of isolation. I couldn’t even be present and engage with people around me because I was so caught up in my head and what I thought others thought about me. It was very self-absorbed, to be honest.
This is why I talk so much about the mind with my clients and with my students.
We spend a lot of time talking about egos, the unconscious, and the inner workings of the mind, because how can you even begin to inhabit your body if you don’t even know what’s going on in your mind? How can you even descend from head to body if you don’t even understand why you’re living in your head all the time?
It makes sense to spend some time understanding your mind so that you can move into a beautiful balance between inhabiting your body and utilizing your mind for the things that it’s really good at, like being logical, being practical, and coming to conclusions. You want to use it to a point where it’s actually supportive to you as opposed to spending a lot of time in the mind to avoid being in the body.
Try to notice the part of you that spends a lot of time questioning things, spiraling, and jumping to conclusions about others or what others might think about you so that you can avoid being in the body. Notice the part of you that wants to avoid feeling.
One of the ways that I see this play out the most is with the awareness of repeating patterns.
Many clients will come to me and say, “Oh no, I keep repeating patterns. Oh no, I did that thing again. Oh no, my old patterns are coming up.”
There’s awareness of our repeating patterns and behaviors, but then it immediately moves to, “I’m doing something wrong.”
When we spend a lot of time in the head, we start making everything wrong, including repeating patterns. I spend a lot of time with my students and clients deconstructing this idea of being wrong, actually, because we almost have this obsession, especially societally, with what we’re doing wrong and the need to find a solution.
If someone, after discovering certain patterns, sees themselves repeating patterns even after awareness, they tend to make themselves wrong for it.
However, I don’t make that wrong. You know why? To me, it’s not that you’re still repeating patterns. It’s not that you are doing something wrong. It’s that you are finally seeing yourself and your patterns more clearly in this personal development world.
Sometimes there’s an entitlement that happens where someone says, “I spotted a pattern, and once I’ve spotted it, it should no longer happen in my life.”
We are talking about years-long repeating patterns. You really believe these things are going to vanish overnight?
For me, when I first started doing this work, I got excited when I would see repeating patterns come up again and again and again. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I was just curious. I was observant. I didn’t make it wrong.
Why did I get curious? Why did I get excited? Because I knew I was understanding myself more deeply.
Start asking: where have we lost the desire to understand ourselves? Where are we more concerned with keeping up an image than being able to see ourselves and understand ourselves more deeply?
This is why I stress connection to the body. When you are connected to the body, you don’t make yourself wrong all the time. Instead, you’re curious. You just want to see more of yourself.
For me, I got excited about repeating patterns because I got to see the different textures and layers of them. I got to understand myself more clearly. I got to understand why I was engaging in those repeating patterns, and paradoxically, that was how they dissolved.
So my question to you is this: are you willing to see yourself, even if it means seeing the parts of yourself that aren’t the easiest to hold? The parts that exist outside of your expectations of who you think you are?
Are you willing? All you have to be is willing. That’s enough. I always tell that to my clients and students, too. Your willingness is powerful because there’s a little bit of surrender and receptivity there, and that’s all you really need.
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