Learning to evolve naturally

24 04 2013




Over the last weeks, I mentioned the vision we all have for ourselves, a deeply personal vision of all we can be. This vision is not a constructed idea of all that we think we should be, do and have, it rather is growing despite of it.
I believe we are governed by an evolutionary principle that is creating and organizing life. We are not only governed by it, we are part of it, all of us, allowing it to create and evolve through us. Our vision is our personal interpretation of this universal principle, it is where our personality and the evolutionary principle meet. Allowing this vision to unfold freely allows life to evolve abundantly. For life to unfold through us unhinderedly, we need to let go of all that is holding us from living a great life.

In the age we live in, we equal a great life with a grandiose life and we feel like we need to take giant steps to get there. In our quest for this grandiose life, we are tempted to believe that growth only happens when we push ourselves. Yet in most of us, this idea creates such resistance that we just don’t do it. It simply feels too big. As a result, most of us feel like we’re falling short, like we’re not measuring up. I tell you, this is not true. We all do the best we can. Everyone of us is exactly where he or she needs to be. You are perfect as you are, and to grow into the vision of all that you are, you don’t need to push yourself to the limit. Growth is natural, it can be optimized, not forced. The same is true for letting go. They go hand in hand. In nature, this is beautifully illustrated by the snake shedding its skin when it has outgrown it. The snake slides forward inch by inch, and in moving forward it lets go of its old skin. Life is inviting us to move forward, to evolve. Evolution is a gradual process. When we gradually move forward, we automatically leave behind the things that don’t serve us anymore. Living our vision doesn’t mean that we are living the end result, because there is no fixed end. Like life, our vision is ever-evolving. Living our vision means living towards our vision, shifting our self-image as we go.

We all have a bandwidth in which we navigate with relative ease. The middle matches exactly with our current self-image, it is where we feel most comfortable. At the bottom is the self-image we are shedding and at the top is the self-image we are growing into. Both outer ends are pulling at us, the lower because it is what we know best, and the upper because of the promise it holds. Yet both feel uncomfortable, the bottom because it doesn’t fit anymore and the top because we aren’t ready yet to show our new colors.
Living our vision is leaning into the upper half of our bandwidth, only just above the middle. By that I mean either finding the best feeling thought you have access to and focusing on it until it feels so real that you start acting from it. Or if you prefer the process to be the other way around, practicing a slightly improved habit until it feels natural. This way, without you truly realizing it, the image you have of yourself is evolving in the direction of your dreams. It is an inch by inch process, but if done consistently your new self-image starts showing and the old starts coming off.  And then one day, without forcing anything, your old ‘skin’ is gone and you realize you have completely grown into the self-image your heart had envisioned for you. This new you feels natural and logical.  And because your heart follows the same evolutionary principle, new dreams are ligned up for you and the process continues. For this is true, there is no limit.


Photo by Thomas Picard

Letting go of the need for things to happen NOW

18 04 2013



In the past weeks, I always had an article up my sleeve. This week, I came to the shocking conclusion that I had run out of articles in a week where most of my time had already been allocated. Tuesday, I started writing frantically. Everything I tried didn’t work. With every minute that passed, I got more frustrated. “But tomorrow it is Wednesday. I want to post on Wednesday.” was playing in my head like a broken record. I got stuck, completely stuck.
On Wednesday morning, it finally dawned on me, I was not going to publish a good article that day, however much I wanted to. I had to make a choice between publishing an article that was not up to my standards or not publishing at all. Now I don’t publish for the sake of publishing, I publish because I want to make a difference. So the choice was simple, but it turned out to be not so easy.

Like you, I have a vision growing on the inside that wants to come out. It’s a gorgeous dream. And part of me can’t wait for it to be a physical reality. Yesterday morning, that part had a break down. “What if this is never going to happen?” it wailed. “What if I do the best I can and it proves not to be good enough?”, “What if no one will like what I write?” “Why would anyone want to read my writings anyway?” It was ugly. And it was untrue.
You see, it is happening. I am doing my best, and people tell me that they love how and what I write. But the three-year-old girl that is still living inside of me wants it now. She has to see to believe. And if I don’t hand her what she wants on a silver platter, she’s going to kick and scream.

What I know for sure is that things happen at the speed that you allow them to happen. The speed at which things happen is in inverse proportion to the resistance you are feeling. And that’s good, it means that things come our way when we are ready for them to happen. If my dream would unfold over the course of a night, it would knock me completely of my socks the next morning. I wouldn’t know what hit me. I would not be ready. My vision is unfolding at a pace that fits me. All I have to do is allow for it to unfold. Let’s see if I can make this more tangible.

Over 8,5 years ago, we moved from the city to the country. I had always travelled by bike, bus and train, but then I needed a car. The day I figured that out, I immediately started browsing the internet for cars. I was dreaming of a BMW roadster, but I was looking for a Toyota Starlet. We actually did have the money to buy a secondhand BMW, but not only wasn’t I comfortable spending that kind of money on myself, I wouldn’t have been comfortable driving it either. I was however ready for a car. The next day, we went to see granddad and he told us he was selling his car. It was the ugliest car I had ever laid my eyes upon, but it was running like a clock, it was bigger than a starlet, it had the right price and it was available.
Interestingly, when people saw me arrive in that car they would always be flabbergasted and comment that they had expected me to drive in a much fancier car, and they would always name a car that was very much like the car I was dreaming of. But I wasn’t ready yet. In the past 6 years, I have often prayed that my car would go to car heaven, but it turned out to be a persistent little bugger. I would dream of better-looking and safer cars, but on some level I wasn’t ready to take the necessary steps. In the past year, healing life-long traumas and letting go of so much emotional baggage, my self-image has drastically changed – it finally got up to speed with who I have grown into.
A few weeks ago, driving on the highway, praying for a miracle, or should I say a new car, I heard such a disturbing sound that I decided to stop on the emergency lane. It turned out I had a flat tire. The man who came to replace my tire told me that all my tires had to be replaced because the rubber of the tires was breaking down. It was the answer to my prayers. It was as if the Universe knew I just needed a little nudge in the right direction.
That evening, browsing the web, I did not look for the cheapest car. This time, I set a budget and looked for the car that I loved the most. One and a half week ago I found and bought the perfect car for me. It has every feature I hoped for and more. Yesterday, driving to the dealer to pick her up, I felt nervous. I had clearly grown out of my old car, but my new car was still at the upper end of my comfort zone. When I stepped into my new car, that feeling vanished. Driving home felt soooo good! I could not have imagined that having a car could possibly feel so delicious. It feels perfect. I am ecstatic. I just keep grinning.

Even though driving this car thrills me, it is my journey towards becoming this person who has allowed this car to become a physical reality that thrills me even more. My vision is unfolding, this car is physical proof.






Learning to pause when it matters most

10 04 2013



In the previous posts, I’ve discussed overexpectation and overgeneralization as cues to stop thinking and start feeling. The last cue I’ll be discussing (for now) is overreaction. I’ve saved this cue for last, as it is the trickiest. It is a broad subject. You could even say that overexpectation and overgeneralization are forms of overreaction.

An overreaction is any sudden compulsive reaction that is out of proportion to what just happened. What makes this difficult to selfdiagnose is that you don’t recognize your  overreaction as out of porportion or illogical. To you, it is not only normal, it is completely logically and any other reaction would be viewed as abnormal.
One moment nothing is the matter, the next you’re livid, blaming others, bursting with tears, victimizing yourself, unable to speak, experiencing a social freeze, hitting the bottom of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or the limit on your credit card, finishing the fifth cigarette in five minutes or your third glass of scotch. You may also experience Read the rest of this entry »

Pause Obstacle no2: overgeneralization

3 04 2013



In part 7 in this series on letting go, we covered overexpectation and how to deal with it in a way that is empowering. In this part, we’re going to do the same for overgeneralization. While a generalization is unspecific, most generalizations are true (like this one). Overgeneralizations, on the other hand, are always untrue (even this one).

Cue 2: words that indicate overgeneralization, the all-or-nothing words – always, ever, never, no one, everyone, everytime, everything, anything, nothing. Our mind has the tendency to overgeneralize, distort or delete information. There is nothing wrong with that, that is just the way our brain works. And if it is working for you – “I always win the lottery.” -  then I wouldn’t change it. The thing is, in most cases it isn’t. Negatively stated  overgeneralizations often feel like an attack. When we feel we are being attacked our body gets into fight-or-flight mode as a result. When our body gets in that state, our amygdala heats up, ready to sound the alarm. To take leadership of your thinking, you have to challenge your mind.
“She never listens to me!” When you hear an overgeneralization, you Read the rest of this entry »