What if you don’t have to fix anything?
Now there’s an idea. You don’t have to fix yourself.
What if everything you need to feel fulfilled, okay, and happy is already present?
I’m playing with a new and — to me — revolutionary idea. Those coping mechanisms, defenses, and beliefs that you built to guard and protect you when you were small end up as a cumbersome suit of armor, but the dangers they were designed to prevent probably aren’t present today. You’re left clanking around hauling a bag of stinking thinking that informs the way you see every moment of your beautiful and messy life as it is today.
Your wholehearted seeking and desire for wholeness leads you into one idea or program after another that offers to teach you how to replace those stinking thoughts with better, more positive, and more useful ones.
I have concluded that this seeking is madness.
It doesn’t work. You end up thinking something must really be wrong with you because you haven’t been able to fix, repair, change, or reprogram your thoughts. And you’re still unhappy. And yearning for what you feel you can’t have or achieve.
As Brené Brown says in her article The Midlife Unraveling, “Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small […] that you believed your armor could help you secure all the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.”
Exactly. Thanks to Brené Brown for expressing exactly what I’ve been thinking about with so much clarity.
[Side note: You haven’t heard from me much these last few weeks. Much of November felt like grim survival mode. The Camp Fire, 175 miles north of here, blew smoke and ash and incinerated particles right at my part of the north Bay Area for nearly three weeks, making November a tough month (tougher, to be sure, for those who lost homes and lives up north). Finally, the rains came, and continue to come, bringing the return of sunshine, clear air, and clear skies. The fires have abated, things feel much more safe and hopeful, and here I am at the keyboard.]
The new idea?
There is nothing you have to change in order to be creative, unleashed, more content, and motivated. What? Ouch! This can be excruciating to contemplate, especially if you’ve spent some time — some decades — In the human potential movement.
Accepting your armor as it is, and stepping into the hypothesis that you don’t have to fix yourself in order to have what you want in life — this is a seriously armor-piercing idea.
Your armor, even your titanium (vibranium?) core of rage and betrayal, is subject to softening, even melting, when met with compassion and forgiveness. Not only is it true that you don’t have to fix yourself, guess what? Every single one of us has a vibranium core of rage and betrayal. Accepting this is a game changer. You, dear one, are not unique.
Stepping into this idea is massively hard to do (if you’re half as resistant as I am), and can be really unsettling. I know why.
Piercing that core is like a death. Letting go of the multitudes of reasons for your bitterness, isolation, and failures — the very idea can be overwhelming. Reminds me of a line from 12-step literature “What will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut.”
Scary as it is to kiss the pain and turn your back on it, you may find, if you give it a try, that the hole in the doughnut may be the place to hang out if you want to regain your wholeness. (Hole, wholeness, see what I did there?)
Wait! What? Is this a no-fix fix?
I’m editing this to add that this idea that you have nothing to fix, so why not drop your armor is not a suggested fix to replace the fixes you’ve already tried that didn’t work. Phew! Glad I thought to say it.
Instead, I’m finding a shift. A shift, or maybe an opening, that allows me to see my armor for what it is, which allows just a tiny smidge of light through what I’ve long thought was impenetrable. And that light widens my perspective — reminds me that my armor is not the only thing available — and increases my sense of inner peace, right-sizedness, and contentment, which feels good enough that it encourages me to keep looking in that direction.
In a talk last week, Amir Karkouti quoted Alan Watts: “You’re not obligated to be the person you were five minutes ago.” And then Amir added, “You’re not the person you were one experience ago.” There’s freedom in these words.
Want to know more? Book a coaching conversation with me. Let’s see what we can see together.