The concept of going to extreme measures to find yourself has always been a mystery to me. I am always curious about why people think they have to sit in hot tents after fasting (James Arthur Ray style) or walk over hot coals to be enlightened. The most adventurous go on a long journey throughout the desert with no water. They all do it to prove that they can overcome their fears and withstand the anxiety created by situations that most people would never attempt.
There’s a reason why most of us wouldn’t do it: it hurts!
I’ve never done those things so I’m not here to judge those who have and I honestly don’t know how much it helps them. If it works for them, than that’s wonderful.
My message to the rest of us: I don’t think finding yourself has to hurt.
In fact, some of my clients come to me with physical pain caused by stress that they want to rid themselves of. They think life without the stress symptoms will give them freedom. Even if you are not suffering physically, you can relate this to any situation in your life. Does “If I had a different job or spouse I would be happy” sound familiar?
What I’ve learned through work with my clients and myself is that changing the external never works.
While walking through the desert for three days or walking over hot coals may give you confidence in the moment, that external act cannot give you the freedom you desire.
When I asked one of my clients what she would do if she was symptom free, exactly 10 other issues came to the surface that prevented her from attaining the freedom and happiness she desired.
It is never the external circumstance, it is always the internal feeling that we are seeking.
Changing the internal is hard. Sometimes it is painful to recognize the thoughts, patterns, etc. that have kept your mind trapped for years. The hardest part is being brave enough to just allow them to be there.
When you do get there it’s a feeling of bliss. It’s like you’re a kid again with a whole new world to explore. No one is telling you it isn’t right to play in the sandbox so long or why you have to use the red crayon. Even if they did you wouldn’t even hear it because your mind would be so geared towards feeling good doing exactly what you like in that moment.
Think about an external thing you’d like to change. Imagine it’s grip on you disintegrating over hot coals or melting in a hot desert. Imagine it melting away, completely absent from your life. Then create yourself, your life, from the inside out.