Self sabotage has also been described as the ‘regressive pull’. The little scared self wants to return to familiar territory in the face of expansion and freedom. Even if it is painful familiar territory. The fear can be so huge that it is preferable in the face of the unknown even if that unknown holds greater happiness and love and wellbeing. It is as if the ego wants to regain the ground it has ‘lost’.
I realise these inner characters like ego and inner critic dont really exist but I have found it helpful to give the various inner habits and tendencies I identify a name, so that I can distinguish those aspects of myself from the promptings of my real self, the expansive awareness (which contains tendencies we call ego and inner critic of course). Recognising what is the little me from the big me while at the same time accepting that a me doesn’t actually exist whew! The real me is a me that I share with all other me’s.
Long term inmates often find that freedom is a terrifying prospect for them, and they quickly reoffend and get to return to their familiar and ‘safe’ imprisonment. This is like me! Moving into new territory, expanding our consciousness, starting to explore our potential can be pretty scary at times.
This a strange business, finding ourselves in these human bodies on the surface of a planet, we deserve LOTS of compassion for this alone! Yes we do. So then throw into the equation dealing other people in a harmonious way, finding food and securing shelter and physical safety in the face of danger, and I think petty much anyone who isn’t dead is doing excellently well. Then add the whole journey of consciousness…and discovering and becoming who we really are at our core, well….where are our medals!!
So in the throws of all of this, for me it has been absolutely vital that some self soothing tools were learned to calm my mind’s fight or flight mechanism. Otherwise I didn’t have a chance, and would have succumbed to fear and anxiety most of the time probably. I have been swamped by regular bouts of fear over the last few months, because I had inadequate tools.
I was already familiar with self compassion and had done some work on allowing myself to include myself in the compassion and love I feel for everyone. I had in place regular practices that relaxed the body and helped the ingrained patterns of fear to loosen a bit. For me this has been a daily swim, walks in the woods, mindfulness classes.
But it still wasn’t enough, as I had some stubborn low level anxiety that peaked and stuck for periods and I was unable to deal with it alone or move it along.
I had to ask for help, and I suppose this was my point in wanting to write this post. Getting help. Asking for help, seeking help when it is needed is so important. Over my years of self discovery I have had numerous helpers, teachers, therapists, family, friends and I would have been lost without these valuable reference points.
I have found no better way to ameliorate the anxiety of facing freedom than finding others as a role model who have stepped onto the ground I am feeling trepidation about. This has mostly been in the form of books by various teachers, but often I have sought help for emotional knots, for facing and untangling hidden beliefs and for general comfort.
I am directly experiencing the benefits of seeking help right now. I was fortunate to find a fine chap who filled out my toolbox, and gave me the courage to face my feelings of fear. The way he did this was to meditate with me live on Skype. Not talking about it, analysing it, going into a story about it, but directly taking me into experiencing it and sitting with it for some time. Diving right in and being still and observing the feeling. Something I was finding difficult to do on my own.
By adding some love I have a vision of a kind parental me, sitting with the scared little me. Ground the situation by identifying , reassuring that is the sensation of the feeling in the physical body. Embrace it kindly. With compassion. An openness and expansiveness is being experienced. This is what life is like with less fear. This is my natural state. More reassuring than scary that is.