Why does this keep happening to me?...
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Perhaps around a situation at work or in relationships: you keep finding yourself in situations with people who don’t value you or where you over-give and overlook your own needs.
You may change jobs, relationships or circumstances but somehow the pattern repeats itself…
Understanding the mechanics behind this kind of experience is wonderfully liberating; and the good news is, it’s available to you in an instant.
If you feel that you are trapped somehow but can’t quite see the prison bars that cage you, looking inside can give you the key to your freedom and fulfilment.
The prison may look like the endless need for external validation and approval. A trap for your energy and a hole that can never be filled – a hungry ghost.
As a high-achiever, you are likely to have to battle this demon at one point or another if you are to live a full life, here and now (not tomorrow, not in 5 years, not when you’ve got the job or reached another milestone).
I have seen the harnessing of the need for external validation work wonders in myself and with the amazing people that I coach.
Working to tip the balance of effort away from an external locus of approval to an inner-one, releases you from the gilded cage of achievement and accolades to make way for genuine, authentic contribution; using your talents and gifts in a manner that makes your heart and soul sing. It brings fulfilment and peace to you and those around you.
Most importantly, it puts you in touch with a deeper, timeless and infinitely resourceful part of you that can guide you as you take steps in a new direction.
It creates the effortless or skilful effort experience that Buddhism talks about and can make life fun where it was previously a struggle.
THE WORK: CONSCIOUS RENEWAL
Luckily, we have many examples and role models to draw inspiration from. Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell, who wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, argued that the hero(ine)’s journey is the core of every good story you’ve ever heard:
- you feel something isn’t right in your life;
- you go on a dangerous journey, you face and vanquish demons (and maybe fall in love in the process);
- you return to your old world carrying treasure/magic with you that is of benefit to you and others.
If you like masculine role models, a dear friend of mine who has bridged cultural divides and succeeded in finding the job of his dreams has been resurrected more than once by the Rocky quote: “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving”.
But what is the mysterious force that allows us to get up again and move forward?
A feminine and powerful version of the forces involved in the process of renewal is the Hindu goddess Kali. She represents a destructive force that can cleanse the old and allow the world to be created anew, feminine in its free flowing and unpredictable form. Like life happening while you’re busy making other plans.
The phoenix is another powerful mythological force representing repeated death and rebirth.
Indeed, change can sometimes feel like death – a part of you will be afraid: if you let go of your identity, what will happen to you? Who will you become? Like the phoenix, you will regenerate, and do so in ever more magnificent forms.
The principle of psychological renewal is simple; but not always easy to complete.
It takes energy, commitment and hard work.
Looking inside your mind can lead you to difficult places that you may not want to visit. You may not want to do this alone.
You may have to make peace with a few old demons.
You may have to let go of a few encrusted beliefs.
But the energy that is freed up from the process feels like a resurrection and wonderful, forgotten parts of you reemerge. The wisdom and insights you acquire along the process minimise unnecessary, empty striving and allow for the more judicious use of your energy, making way for greater joy, fulfilment and flow in your undertakings whether it be an intended career transformation or navigating a life change.
May 2017 be filled with joyful renewal for you.
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