I remember doing yoga in my thirties, when yoga videos were a thing. At the same point in the tape, during downward dog, the instructor would say “breathe… set the intention to get out of your own way.” At the time, I didn’t entirely understand that this was more than a good-feeling phrase but a profound practice. As with most things in life, the simplest ones are often the most wisely instructive and transformative.
How do we get out of our own way?
We are creatures of habit. We find something that works, a pattern, and we keep doing it – despite the fact that Consciousness Itself is moving right along, changing, and asks us to meet each moment fresh.
The thing we are doing may be a useful trait, a gift, and inherently skillful in the right situations. For instance, healers are often sensitive, adept at problem solving and critical thinking by nature. We have these skills for a reason; they are true gifts. But what happens when we encounter energies that ask for a less linear approach – that require our presence, not our fixing? (it gets f’ crazy!#@) And what do we do with our tendency to look for problems, inconsistencies in the field, imperfections -when we don’t need to be doing that? (we attract them)
Our strengths can become a weakness.
Because these certainly aren’t bad qualities to have. There’s a reason why we tend toward: looking for problems, perfecting, solving, fixing, needing to “know”, being so bright and intelligent, being alert for the next emergency, preparing for the other shoe that is about to drop. It’s as inherent to our natures, as healers, as sunshine is to the blue sky.
Yet those same satisfying and useful gifts and skills can make us deeply and utterly miserable.
Lately, I’ve been exploring how I get in my own way. I’ve watched how the same gifts, for instance, my self-discipline, desire to improve and work on myself, or my ability to connect patterns, energies and dots throughout time and space, can become the exact thing taking me out of the present moment.
How do I know when I’m getting in my own way? I am no longer right here. I am trying to change or achieve something. I’m in a story. And I’m definitely not having any fun doing it. Often, I’m quite and suddenly miserable.
How did that happen? One minute, I was just figuring out how to fix, help or change… then, bam. Misery.
One thing I have noticed, when this is happening, is that it feels like there’s a barrier or construct over my direct, fresh, experience (because there is one). It might be a should: I should be more present, relaxed, or I should not be having this particular experience. It could be an energy feels off today, but instead of neutrally observing it I use my excellent storyteller and critical thinking skills to attach a story to that energy… and run with it.
So…getting out of our own way. Is understanding, with tons of self-compassion, that our good qualities and strengths are taking us away from Presence to this particular situation and moment. Our habit of looking for problems. Or our gift for sensitively feeling everything. It could be anything- our analytical abilities, our desire to know and understand the world, our strong sense of morality, social justice or fairness, our commitment to responsibility, our self-discipline, our commitment to being healthy, even our compassion…
There’s a reason why you have these wonderful strengths. Celebrate and honor these in yourself.
Yet any strength can become a weakness…when it takes you away from what THIS fresh moment truly asks of you. That’s when you are getting in your own way.
We see this often with “other people.” It’s harder to identify in our self. “How do I not judge, criticize or try to change myself and others?”- Asking for a friend (LOL).
I’ve been playing with simply naming the energy of my experience, without doing anything about it. Wow, I really want to (understand, fix, feel better about) this. That’s understandable. And I decided: when I feel the urge to find the problem, explore the inconsistency in the field, or get to the root of the issue (all ARE strengths) I would give myself something I want instead. It might be a cold drink. Or a show. Or simply getting up to water the flowers.
Doing this last one was a bit like going cold turkey on a drug habit- it felt so different, and so relieving, for me- which is how I knew I was really and truly ready to get out of my own way!
Many say the secret of youth, of life, is staying flexible, supple, fresh with this moment. Not being held hostage by anything- not even by those good, but sometimes misapplied, habits of your natural strengths, and gifts.
Even the things we most want, and everyone agrees are desirable – like Presence, Justice, or Love- can become a prison if we let them.
Today, may you get out of your own way.
Pic: of me and Magnus, the terrier, having a fresh moment just this morning. I’m feeding him peanuts from my peanut mustache. Around here, that’s what we call a “peanut kiss” 🙂