I remember when I was little, I wanted to be superman, and I wanted to be a garbage man, sometimes on the same day! I wanted to be a hockey player. I played and imagined all sorts of futures.
In retrospect, I can’t remember when I stopped imagining what I’d want to be. And once I decided, over time I’ve realized that I’m not done imagining new possibilities for myself.
Karen was in the other day. She told me that she was feeling pain on the left side of her body. She felt it was the result of her doing some introspective shamanic work on herself. She had been focusing on loosening the ties from past generations of female shame and self esteem. She can see how her heritage has carried forward and has affected her life and her relationships.
What I found curious though was that she was feeling frustrated and impatient with her body because she was experiencing tension and pain. I asked her, “if you go to the gym and you have a good workout, aren’t you going to feel stiff and sore the next day?” She chuckled as she was able to see the unreasonable expectation that she had placed on herself.
Over the years I’ve been learning that as good as we are at problem solving, this super power can be our own kryptonite. When we problem solve it is usually from the perspective of what we don’t want: the pain, the negative emotions, the habit. And I think that this is because by problem solving, we keep firing the same brain circuitry in the same ways.
When we’re able to introduce new ways of firing, new ways of thinking, new perspectives, this serves not only as a pattern interrupt, but it also serves to stimulate new nerve connections. These new connections get stronger over time and the old connections literally start to dissolve.
I think it’s important to deconstruct thoughts, feelings and patterns so that you find contrasting emotions, thoughts and patterns.
If your motivation or intention is to have less shame ruling your life, then you want to find a contrasting emotion, such as self-acceptance and focus on that feeling. And if we can feel gratitude as if the shift from shame to self-acceptance has happened already, this in itself will create the shift in our physiology and chemistry of our bodies.
What the science of epigenetics is showing us is that if we can replace our “normal” state with elevated emotions, thoughts and imaginings, this actually can affect our genetic expression, turning some genes on and some genes off. It can be very powerful.
If all we look at is the problem (the pain, the habit, the stuckness), we will tend to get more of that.
What new emotions and perspectives do you want to have? How do you want others to see you? How do you want to see yourself? What do you want to be when you grow up? Hopefully you’re not done imagining.