Using the Tools of Conscious Transformation to Change Habits for Good
"There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in." – Leonard Cohen
For many years, I strove to be perfect, to have the right answers, to be in the know, to avoid mistakes, to make sure no one saw my grey hairs, to be the attentive friend, to eat organic foods, to keep the house tidy, to answer all of my emails, to check off the never-ending to-do list, to be a model citizen and so much more. In a valiant attempt to not drop any of the pieces of my life, I realized that I had created the Twister board of life.
The game of Twister is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable game where you ridiculously attempt to hold positions, maintain your balance, and stretch yourself beyond your capacity in an effort not to fall (right hand blue, left leg green, left hand red.) As a game, it is hilarious. As a lifestyle, it is downright exhausting. It becomes an impossible standard to maintain — the attempt to hold it all together.
In this relentless effort to keep the external pieces of my life in perfect order, I created a prison. This illusion of perfection was my attempt to conceal the deep insecurity, inadequacy and shame that lingered within me. After a lifetime of practicing perfection, my physical body gave up. It could not carry the weight, the burden of perfection, any more. I found myself struggling with chronic physical illness and debilitating fatigue.
I used to thrive on being a "top performer" and "the best." So when all the body could do was rest, who was I? Who was I if I was not "the best?" I had the opportunity to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I fell. It was raw. It was vulnerable. And, it was also the best thing that could have happened to me. Inside of this health challenge, I had a lot of time to just be with myself. It was excruciating. I had no idea what to do with myself, and I had no clue what to do with all that I was feeling.
Through the Power of Emotion practices, I began to see the emotions that lay underneath the guise of my perfection: insecurity, shame, guilt and despair. By learning to accept these perfectly normal emotions and not judge them (or control them), I began to find freedom.
To find freedom, I had to change the paradigm. I had to stop playing the game of Twister all together. I decided to allow myself to fall as it was already happening, and I focused instead on how I related to the experience.
I accepted the situation "for what it was" without a sense of defeat or resignation. Simply accepted. I took time to compassionately look at my nuances. I began to see my imperfections with greater appreciation for they made me… me. In the process, this unexpected and uninvited health challenge served as a surprising tool for my personal transformation.
So what if we embraced our humanity versus stiff-arming our existence? Sounds terrifying, right? But what if that is actually the secret? What if our humanity was not something to be annihilated but rather something to be welcomed?
For years I have appreciated the Japanese art form of Kintsugi. Kintsugi means "golden joinery," and it is the ancient art form of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold. According to Stefano Carnazzi, "The Japanese art of Kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride." The art form teaches us that things have value even when they break. It models resilience when we face difficult challenges in life, such as loss of a loved one, divorce or a health crisis; we can then define what those experiences will mean for us.
You may not have to fall the way I did to learn your lessons. If by chance you do, know that you can make gold from those really hard moments and life experiences, and it is in those moments that we can find ourselves and rise.
I see clearly that the health challenge was a mere stepping stone en route to my vision. Without this experience, I would not know the deep peace, freedom and inner fulfillment that I know today.
Life not going the way we plan is not necessarily a sign for panic. In fact, it may be cause for celebration, as life will never actually go as we planned. And that is the beauty of the journey. If we knew the whole journey ahead of time, it would be predictable. We would not grow from the rich adventures and we would fundamentally miss out on living. Our true power lies in being human and using the tools of Conscious Transformation to choose how we show up to life.
Enjoy the perfect imperfection of the journey.
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Jodi Filleman has over 15 years of professional education experience serving as a licensed therapist, yoga teacher, public speaker, researcher and mindfulness educator. From all her years of advanced training, she finds Conscious Transformation to be the most effective and life changing modality.