Getting out of your own way

“I just need to get out of my own way” such a common phrase when someone’s stuck in something they think they don’t like or want. And yet this act of getting out of our own way can seem so hard.

We can see where we want to get to and we know the blocks that are in our way : I procrastinate on the decision, I over-think the process, I’m afraid I might get it wrong, I worry what others will think, I can’t break these habits that keep me here.

Have you ever been in one of these situations and put a strategy in place to overcome whatever seems to be in your way? A new habit, a positive mantra, a vision board, joining a group with similar folk, creating goals and action plans?

There’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things but they’re not where the juice is. If they worked for you, it’s not because they in and of themselves are magic change agents. Plenty of people deploy these strategies with no success. This is because what they do is keep the “me” busily, strongly in place. Continuing to cover over the source of all the change you’ve ever wanted.

Where change really comes from

The change really happened because you’d seen something new about your situation at a deep, embodied level. The level of an “a-ha” moment that literally shook the cells of your system into something new. A realisation like a break in the clouds allowing the sun to shine through. A disappearing of this “me” who gets in “my” way” to allow fresh thinking through.

Sometimes these changes are spontaneous, maybe when you reach that rock bottom place where you think you just can’t keep going how you have been. In that moment of giving up, the idea of you was lost, it disappeared to such an extent that you completely got out of your own way and saw something so significantly fresh and new that to do anything else would have been crazy.

Sometimes these changes happen when working with a coach, therapist or sometimes even talking to a stranger in the street. Someone who’s entirely present with you, who stands strong in the face of whatever anger, tears, joy or frustration arise in any moment. Someone who shows deep compassion and who knows that it matters not a jot whether you get the thing you want. The self — full of future-past-imagination and full of fear, judgement and threat — is simply unable to withstand such a present moment expression of love.

Why does this “me” not show up with every change?

We think that changing a habit of which brand of toothpaste to buy is a simple change and so we make it simply. We don’t generally get in our own way with things like that. The “me” has no opinion here. The toothpaste is picked off the shelf and bought. Just that.

But when it comes to supposedly “big” stuff this self appears with apparently strong opinions about what’s OK to do and what’s not. You should stay in this job, it provides stability and a pension. You shouldn’t change direction with your business, this is where you’re known. You should break up with that person, they’re no good for you. You shouldn’t quit drinking, the emotions you feel are too difficult. You shouldn’t spend time on you, you’re not important enough.

We hear this noisy surface voice of thought but we don’t hear the layers of thought beneath that, which sit at the cellular level and beyond. This is why making change happen with behaviour- or action-level strategies are likely to fail or at best be short term. All we’re doing with those is trying to smooth the surface of the ocean with a butter knife.

The idea of an ocean of change sounds pretty huge doesn’t it? And yet, this ocean as the phenomenally interconnected system of our body and mind, needs just one small shift at a fundamental level to unlock a whole plethora of change on the surface.

Like a game of jenga. Pull out one block and a whole bunch of self-thought-blocks come tumbling down.

Plus now, the energy you would have been putting into getting in your own way or that you’d have been putting into pushing a change-strategy uphill, is available for whatever seems obvious to do.

Which could well include goals and action plans, it could well include vision boards and groups, but now from a place of deeply-felt change. Now from a place of obviousness.

So this change becomes as easy as changing toothpaste brand. Which is really all that’s ever going on with change until we cloud it with “me” thoughts.

So how do we do this?

To begin, direct your attention towards what your “me” usually deletes from your awareness in an effort to keep itself in a job…

Notice the quiet voice from your heart or your gut.

Notice the times you make change happen with ease.

Notice when you realise something new and the impact that has on your life or work.

Notice the ocean not the waves.

Keep noticing.

With love, Helen

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