Retracting and Androgynous Thinking
I received some insightful feedback on my last newsletter. I wrote about the human tendency to disqualify ourselves – from our dreams, career or personal aspirations, love, and the like. Many of us have unconscious “mantras” that we repeat internally and unconsciously about who we are and what our future looks like based on how we view ourselves at the time. These “mantras” are rarely positive and expansive, but usually limiting, contracting and negative.. When we repeat things over and over, they get stronger to the point that is can seem like incontrovertible truth unless something, or preferably, someone steps in to call us out on it.
What I forgot to say, which this reader pointed out, is the importance of community in identifying our limited and bullshit ideas about ourselves.. If your mantra is I can never be… an artist, a yoga teacher, an entrepreneur, or fall in love, have a happy relationship to my body (or whatever you disqualify yourself from) and you keep it on your head as a thought, you never get feedback on whether this is true, or total BS. Our friends, partners, fellow yogis or potential mentors see parts of us we don’t see.. like the qualities we have that make us ideally suited to make our dreams happen. We can’t give ourselves feedback on ourselves. Only others can do that. I forgot to mention this crucial point in my last newsletter… If you want to live an extraordinary life, have a posse of people who you support and support you. It takes a village. :)
This got me to thinking about retracting.. How many times have you said something and wished you could take it back? Or done something that you later regretted because it felt out of integrity with the person you are evolving into? Because we can’t unsay the thing we said, undo the thing we did, or go back in time, how do we move forward rather than back?
My health coaching clients ask this question all the time when they fall off the wagon from their healthy routines. The typical story goes something like this.. Maybe you start with allowing yourself one cookie and you end up eating the whole bag.. Or plan on watching just a single television show and ended up binge-watching for hours.. Or take a day off your yoga or exercise routine and a day becomes a month. If this sounds familiar, then you are familiar with what I like to call AFI… Aww Fuck It. The mental process looks something like this.. I ate the one cookie when I shouldn’t eat sweets --> I am weak --> fuck it then, I will eat the whole bag. This isn’t a useful mindset if we really want a thriving body and a easeful mind.
The best way to get out of trouble is to figure out how we got there in the first place. If the water is pouring all over the floor, you can either mop all day or simply turn off the tap.
- Geshe Michael Roach
If we want to learn from past missteps, we have to know how we got there to begin with.. how did the water get turned on in the first place. When we get this, we can reverse engineer the process so we can move forward, not back. To do this, learn to think androgynously- using both the right and left side of the brain.
The right, rational, male part of the brain is really good at retracing steps to see where things went awry – who was around us at the time? What time of day was it? How were we feeling emotionally? What part did the environment play in our decision at that time? Did something happen before that led to this action? There is always a trigger preceding a behavior. Get to know your triggers and you can learn from what you already know rather than repeat the same old shit.
The feminine left side of the brain is the opposite. The yin to the right’s yang. It is creative and visionary. It can see possibilities and connections that the logical left side misses. It can envision and even feel what it is like to have a well-nourished, fit body and a limber, easeful mind, even if this isn’t the current reality. So when the left side works with the right side, we can get design our future experience based on what we learned in the past. Let’s try this..
Recall the last time you made a decision that wasn’t aligned with who you are evolving into.. Write it down. Next write down what were the circumstances surrounding the event – other person, place, time of day, emotional state or preceding action?
Now note which of these seemed most crucial in your decision to act the way that you did.
Allow your left side of brain to step in. Visualize how it could have gone down another way. How would that have felt? Now the right side has the vision, plus prior knowledge, to come up with a plan to navigate the next similar situation. Congratulations. You can think androgynously. Pretty cool, huh?
A healthy body and clear mind and connection to spirit/dharma is your birthright. Answering the call is the hardest part. I help people change both their behaviors and mentalities in my health coaching courses. Connect with me. My next Yogi Detox begins September 29 and my Ayurveda and Habit change course starts on October 25.