We Don’t Change When We Heal

We Don’t Change When We Heal

As if we could change

We struggle against ourselves

Fixing what’s not wrong.

-Valerie Frederick Hutchinson

 

My beautiful poet neighbor wrote this Haiku. It is something that rings true deep into my bones.

Self-development doesn’t mean change. You grow.

Think about a tree. A big old tree with crazy limbs going this way and that and old knots here and there.  Maybe some of the bark is coming off. Do you look at that tree and see what needs to be fixed? Of course not. It is what it is. A tree doesn’t change and we wouldn’t ask it to. We just ask it to grow. To become bigger and stronger and healthier.

The secret to healing is not to ask ourselves to change. Asking such things goes against the Yoga Nerd Code. We are who we are. In order to heal, to feel better, we must learn to love ourselves for who we are and grow from there. Loving ourselves is really the hardest part. Why is it so hard to love ourselves?

I think the biggest emotion that holds people back is shame. And I think that may be a huge part of why it is so hard to love ourselves. We are ashamed of who we are and to look at the cause of that shame is so painful. But we must. We must look at it and ask why and then have compassion for it. Because 99% of the time, we were just a kid when that shame started. We didn’t know any better. We wouldn’t ask a kid of the same age now to know better, would we? We would kindly help the child learn so they can move forward. We judge ourselves much too harshly.  Especially when that shame is not who we are.

We allow that shame to become our identity. We judge our entire self-worth from that shame. It is paralyzing. Again, would you judge someone you loved like that? Why, in the name of all that is good, do we judge ourselves this way?

Instead, let’s look at the shame like a pimple. A big huge pimple on your face. It is there for all the world to see. And when you talk to people all you can think is, “They are looking at my zit. They are looking at my zit. They are looking at my zit.” Can you see how thinking this way would hinder you from acting normally? And you know the solution is to just pop the damn thing. But what if it’s painful? What if it leaves a scar? What if it explodes puss onto someone else? Okay, that’s a little gross. But you get the idea. You don’t want to deal with the pimple but it affects you every moment of the day. So just pop the damn thing.

So you pop the pimple and what happens. I mean after the pain and the clean-up and all of that, what happens? Has your face changed? Are you different or are you still you? What if it does leave a scar? You are still the same person. You just know how to do it better next time. But you are still a lovely person. And that’s the part we need to learn.

We are all lovely people. Why would we want to change that?

Another way to look at it is a dirty window. The window will still be a window whether it is dirty or clean. Of course it is much more effective and nice to look at when it is clean. But when you clean it, are you changing the window?

So now, after all of my rambling, we come back to Valerie’s lovely haiku.

As if we could change

We struggle against ourselves

Fixing what’s not wrong.

You can’t become a different person. If you want to be just like someone else because you think you would be happy you are dead wrong. One, because you will only be happy as you. And two, I’m 100% sure that person you want to be like has their own demons they are working with. Instead, we must learn compassion and love for ourselves. We must learn to see our own strengths and weaknesses and learn to love them both. The weaknesses aren’t wrong. The strengths aren’t wrong. They just are. We don’t change, we just grow. It’s the Yoga Nerd way.

I’m horrible at confrontation. Every time I try to do it I botch the job. Which is very frustrating because it takes a lot of pre-game planning and courage to just move up to the confrontation point. And if confrontation happens unexpectedly, I freeze like a bunny and just wait for it to be over.  Do I wish I was better at it. Hell yes! Do I judge myself because of it? No. It just is. I am not the person in this world to do the confronting. I would make a terrible lawyer. This deep desire to avoid confrontation will always be a part of me. No matter how much I practice it, it will always scare the shit out of me. The level of shit scaring might lessen, but it will always be there. And I will never be on my game with a solid presence of mind when I have an unexpected confrontation. It just isn’t who I am. I see that in me. I have compassion for why I am like that. But there is more to me than lack of confrontation skills.

I am a master at making other people feel comfortable around me. I can read what they need in order to relax and do my best to make that happen. I am able to be genuine and unassuming. And I love that about myself. Can I teach someone else to be that way? Maybe. But it is who I am. There is no changing it. Even if I wanted to. I accept it for what it is. It wasn’t always a strength, though. At one point it was a weakness too.

At one point in my life I handled the avoidance of confrontation and the ability to make people comfortable in a more destructive way. I didn’t understand myself. I used to make people feel comfortable by disappearing. Doing whatever they wanted. I didn’t have an opinion. When there was a confrontation, I would avoid it at all costs by giving whoever it was whatever they wanted to end the confrontation. And sometimes I would literally fall asleep to avoid the confrontation. I’d go to my room and sleep. But over time, with lots of tools, I healed and became a happier person not by changing these core things about myself. I healed by understanding them and growing from them.

Some people might say that I am a different person than I was in my 20s. Heather in her 20s didn’t do yoga. But she was interested in meditation and took some classes. Heather in her 20s didn’t assert herself in the world. She didn’t think she mattered. But she did keep a journal. Something inside of her knew she had a voice.  I had to learn that I am not wrong. There is really nothing about me to be ashamed of. I am me. And there is no one in the world like me. No one. The world needs me.

As if we could change

We struggle against ourselves

Fixing what’s not wrong.

There is nothing wrong with you. You are built perfectly. There is no one in the world like you. The world needs you. We, the people of the world, need your strengths and your weaknesses. We need your opinions and your way of living in the world. You are an important piece of this world. We don’t want you to change.  We want you to be you.

But how can you help be a part of this world if you don’t know who you are? How can you give of yourself when you don’t love yourself? And, above all, how in the hell do you learn to do that?

Here are some Yoga Nerd tools to start you on your journey of growth, not change:

1)      Discover your Enneagram number. If you want a quick road map to understanding and loving yourself, this is the map. Click here for an online test to give you an idea of what your Enneagram type might possibly be. Enneagram tests are not fool-proof. But it will give you a place to start.  To read my blog about the Enneagram, click here.

2)      Begin a meditation practice. When we do mindful meditation, it is amazing the thoughts that present themselves that lead to healing. Furthermore, there are many guided meditations to help you walk down a path of healing. To read my blog on meditation, click here.

3)      Write a journal. There are no rules to writing in a journal. Write whenever you want about whatever you want. If you’re not sure what to write, just start describing your day. Or what you want to do. Set a timer for 20 minutes and write continuously until the timer goes off. If you can’t think of anything to write, write “I can’t think of anything to write.” I guarantee something interesting will come up by the end of the 20 minutes.

4)      Get moving. Walking, hiking, dancing. You understand what I mean by moving. Moving gets you into your body and helps release emotions trapped in the body. I’m not saying you are going to start crying in the middle of your workout. It just helps get the energy moving.

5)      Try to be kind to yourself. Try not to believe the negative thoughts in your head. When you notice the negative thoughts in your head try to be curious about them. Ask yourself why those thoughts are coming up. What are they trying to protect you from? If you sit with it for a minute, does a memory from childhood come up?

No matter what, try to have compassion for yourself. Growing is hard. Growing pains are real. But on the other side you will feel so much lighter. So much happier. You will be comfortable walking in your skin because you will love who you are. You are worth it. Grow.

We are a Yoga Nerd community. We are here to help each other. If you have questions or want to share something, we Yoga Nerds are here for you.

Valerie Hutchinson is my beautiful neighbor and walking and wine drinking friend. She is currently working on a daily calendar of her beautiful haikus. I will keep you up to date on when it is published.

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About

I am a yoga and meditation teacher, energy healer and I teach Enneagram workshops. I'm here to help people grow and find their true selves.

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