Tag Archives: Breaking habits

What does it mean to be ready?

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A lot of my healing over the years stems from the need to accept myself – my whole self. I think everyone has varying degrees of this experience embedded in their lives – wanting to fit in and feel “accepted” by their families, peers, communities – whoever it may be. For me I experienced a heightened sense of this need growing up adopted-Korean in a predominantly white community. Being inherently different on the outside forced me to make peace with the world one part by accepting myself and one part by trying to fit in desperately. Let me tell you only one of these parts worked.

As a teen attending Korean Culture Camp, I went through self-esteem classes each year. Definitely one of my least favorite aspects of camp. Really all I cared about was mandu (Korean dumplings) and plum candy. (I paid for that care later in life – will save for another post). But the self-esteem classes at the time weren’t especially helpful or practical. I just thought of it as fluff – acknowledging that my peers and I were prone to lower self-esteems than everyone else and yet not recognizing that we were not feeling open or receptive enough to share about it or even identify this about our very nature. It was one of those classes you just go to to only wait for it to be over. You maybe even feel worse about yourself, afterwards knowing that you have a bad self-esteem. It’s victimizing. So then what to do with oneself? [Go to the camp store and buy some more potato snacks, right?]

Well years later I can say an important part often missing from those early self-esteem talks was the readiness factor. It is possible that at camp they touched on the idea of self-compassion, but it took me until my post college years to really understand that practicing self-compassion could alter the effects of low self-esteem. Funny how education and learning works…you can only retain and understand the message when you are ready, and messages become clearer to you when it becomes personal.

At the same time, if we all waited until we were completely “ready” we would never move forward. (This is a popular topic among the new parent camp, believe me, I hear it all the time :)). So what does it mean to be ready? And why does it matter?

Of course there is no simple answer. But I find there is this delicate balance with the readiness factor – you cannot push yourself somewhere you are not ready to be (or you can, but you may force yourself into a healing crisis), but you also must push yourself beyond what you believe is possible at times. The key I’ve found for me is not doing too much of one or the other. Do a little of both. Let the busyness inside you settle, and stir up the well-rested parts within you.

I always say in my yoga classes, if you tend to move and breathe slowly, allow yourself to increase the pace of your breath, or viceversa, if you are a person who breathes fast and is moving quickly all the time, let yourself slow down your movements. It’s good to switch things up, it keeps us well and it challenges us to be better people.

In what parts of your life are you putting on the brakes because you are not ready and sincerely need more time? In what ways are you ready to move forward but are stalled because of habit or fear?

Challenge: This week find a way to either slow down or speed up something that needs attention in your life.

23.5 hours a day challenge

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New Years is up and coming – why not get a jump start on your resolutions and check out this video to get informed and maybe inspired.

In a Rut (or a Hole)? Need Inspiration? Read this Poem

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I walk down the street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I fall in.

            I am lost …. I am helpless.

                        It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I pretend I don’t see it.

            I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place.

                        But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I see it is there.

            I still fall in … it’s a habit … but,

                        My eyes are open.

                        I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I walk around it.

 

I walk down another street.

 

–Portia Nelson, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

I love this poem. I find it simple, true, and relatable to our individual and collective struggle to become ourselves and to really thrive in spite of our shadow sides. In the sense of the meaning of the poem, I find Portia’s depiction of the experience of being in a rut and playing out useless patterns in our lives to be a very real description. When we are stuck, we are really stuck. We cannot help ourselves, because we do not take responsibility for our actions.  However, once we start to notice how such behaviors and thought patterns are serving us (or not), we can begin to make small changes that will greatly impact our well-being and our personhood. My two main takeaways from this poem fit perfectly with Mandala Reflections’ focus on the self and the greater community.

“My” sidewalk vs. “Our” sidewalk

1) My sidewalk. Take personal responsibility and avoid avoidance. When I read this poem, I couldn’t help but think about the metaphor of changing streets to avoid the hole.  I recognize that Portia was not intending her words to be taken so literally and that part of changing streets requires us to recognize or “see” the holey sidewalks we attach ourselves to, yet, I still wanted to point out the imagery, because I think our society has a tendency to avoid matters by simply changing directions, (I know I have). At the same time, her poem still affirms that often times we really need that time spent sitting in the hole. When we sit in the hole and really see, we understand ourselves and situations better, we recognize and accept it all with greater ease, and we can move to influence change in our stories and our surroundings.

2) Our sidewalk. Mend the BIG holes together. Sometimes you just can’t do it on your own. Rather than just avoiding it and walking down another street is there a way that allows us to repair/mend the hole that we are falling into? What if this hole is not a shadow in your psyche or family history, but is a bigger societal problem that affects the greater community? Just mending your own hole won’t be as easy if it is not you who is causing the problem. Fixing this kind of hole can only be done with the collaboration and cooperation of many concerned individuals. To effect change on this level will require you to build relationships and connect with others in a way that is meaningful.