Stubborn Wishes For Ruby Slippers
I wish this health issue would go away. I wish I were in a relationship. I wish I made more money.
Why are some of our wishes more difficult to fulfill than others?
Because some personal goals require radical change. As Einstein reminds us, the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If diets haven’t worked, a new way of controlling your caloric intake or expenditure won’t likely work either, because new forms of control are not a radical change. It’s the same old track. Have you ever explored the possibility that maybe it’s not only about the weight? Or the chronic condition? Or the relationship or lack thereof? Or…? Or…? Or…?
Sometimes a stubborn personal goal will reveal how we have mastered a way of living or loving that is completely unproductive. Did you know that it takes 10,000+ hours to master something? Just because you have mastered something doesn’t mean it’s valuable or that you are even aware of what you’ve mastered. I remember realizing that I had more than mastered sucking up my feelings when a friend commented, “I can’t even picture you raising your voice.” In my case it didn’t mean I never got angry; it meant that I had gotten so good at holding it in over the years, that even I was unaware of my mastery until this comment brought it to my attention. I was seeking to understand the nature of my chronic sinus problems at the time.
Holding feelings in is an unhealthy form of control. I’d dare say I had a PhD in it. (So is spitting them out, but that's for another article.) Chronic sinus problems in my late 20s were one of the effects for me. TMJ tried to bring it to my attention in my early 20s, but physical therapy succeeded at teaching me a way of keeping my mouth shut that didn’t hurt my jaw. Not bad, but it didn't address the deeper issue. When it popped up in my sinuses it was harder to ignore. A desire to be cherished in a relationship presented me with an opportunity to revisit it years later.
In hindsight I can see how sucking up my feelings was an intimacy blocker — not facilitator. Saying I was fine when I wasn’t made me untrustworthy — not strong. And holding feelings in made me sick and caused me physical pain — it didn’t make me a saint. Realizing the unproductiveness in these areas convinced me to pursue retiring sucking up my feelings completely. I had become so unconsciously good at it that it took a while for me to become aware of how I did it in different situations. And I can be a little stubborn at times. How about you?
When I look back I can see that the retirement process spanned a couple decades and there could still be more. My initial mastery of sucking up my feelings spanned about that time too. But who’s counting? I’m just grateful that I figured it out in this lifetime. The dismantling didn’t affect everyday but it would pop up in different settings for me to see it by way of its effects. Dismantling an unproductive way of living is a process, for certain, often beginning with something we can’t shake and have nowhere else to turn. Through radical change, as Glinda would say, we eventually realize how we had the power all along.
My radical change was my pursuit of emotional accountability. Learning to feel my feelings authentically and to respond to them productively was radical compared to how I had controlled them by holding them in. When holding them in their only outlet was to cause me internal harm or harm to others passive aggressively. When we hold something in it’s got to come out somewhere. (FYI, I didn’t know that I was passive aggressive at the time so if you can relate, you probably don’t either.)
Staying the course with dismantling my old way of being while creating a new way happened simultaneously. These fresh tracks were not only radical as to how I was brought up to hold everything in, but life altering — so life altering that in the midst of it, I changed careers. I wanted to teach what I was learning. Being sensitive is beautiful and valuable when you know how to navigate the territory.
What I had learned was so liberating for me that I wanted everyone to know about it. In response to my desire to share, a holistic counseling course appeared “out of the blue” to help me find my words. I’ve been teaching people how to use their feelings as fuel for learning, healing and growth ever since.
I’d rather be in kindergarten in the School of Authenticity than have a PhD in Suck it Up. Learning to be authentic with my feelings, which includes learning to use them to heal rather than to hurt, has been just as valuable as learning to walk. Believe me, I’ve wrestled with it, had my ego busted where I didn’t even know it was inflated and been deeply humbled in the process. But in the end, guess what? It deepened my capacity for intimacy, attracted more trustworthy people into my life, my health issues went away and so much more.
10,000 hours may sound daunting but you don’t have to complete it to start receiving benefits and you don't have to do it alone. The number of hours you have put into your radical change only comes up to cut you some slack when you fall down. You might still be in kindergarten with the process. Or to show you where you haven't been applying what you know so you can address your resistance. Be gentle with yourself, but if you keep making the same mistakes get some help. Sorry only goes so far. Others will get tired of being gentle with you and that's not a bad thing. You can take as long as you want to develop emotional maturity, but it does take commitment, discipline and practice for mastery.
I’m grateful for my health issues and relationship struggles that showed me I was off course. That doesn’t mean I’d want to repeat those assignments from the School of Hard Knocks, but that wisdom is born of experience and I graduated. And just for the record, this does not guarantee no further issues, but at least if they show up you'll have a plan in place that will continue to bring out the best in you that had previously gotten buried, open your heart more rather than close it, and all while continuing to increase your faith and trust in God or whatever your term for Something More. Emotional accountability and spiritual wisdom do not come with merely controlling calories, symptoms or people.
From all of this, I have learned that when I no longer need something is when it is most likely to happen. At that point, my desire is pure — as in free of fear — no hidden agenda. I didn’t need to find a holistic counseling program. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. It found its way to me as if on angel wings. That's where the Something More steps in. Need indicates fear. When someone no longer needs to be thin is when the body has its best chance for losing the weight for good. When someone no longer needs that desired relationship it has its best chance for manifesting. When someone no longer needs to increase their finances they will be most likely to find themselves out of the hole. When someone no longer needs to store their anger and unshed tears in their sinuses they may realize that the chronic-ness of their sinusitis has vanished.
We often need something to happen to avoid a feeling. That’s a hidden agenda. It taints our desire with fear and that can send us down the control-the-symptoms-to avoid-the-feelings track if we aren’t aware.
A personal goal gives us something to journey toward but it’s what we learn about ourselves along the way that matters. If you have a stubborn goal it could be time for a radical change. And once you’ve made that change, the fulfillment of your goal could be just a click of your heels away and so much more. Follow the yellow brick road!
Trish Whynot, D.C.Ed, is a holistic counselor and author of Why Me? Why Now? Why Not? Finding Opportunity in Your Obstacles, an illustrated guide to living that expects opportunities even during challenging times. She works with clients remotely and in person from her central and southern New Hampshire offices. For more info visit www.TrishWhynot.com.