The Second Dart

Remember last week when I told you I’ve been practicing doing things that scare me? I’m coming to realize that what I’m really doing are things that EXCITE me!

Maybe it started as the feeling of FEAR, but it EVOLVED into anticipation, and then excitement.

This happened because as I began to EXPLORE my fears – the little, everyday ones especially, not just the big hairy ones – I began to overcome them. And as I overcome them, I’m enjoying the sense of VICTORY, of accomplishment, of SUCCESS. I allow myself to really FEEL the success and savor it, remember it in my BODY, before moving on to the next one.

Over time, I’ve come to feel excited to face my limitations, not so much afraid. I still feel the telltale agitation in my solar plexus and stomach, my breath comes higher in my lungs, and I feel less grounded – the sensations I’ve always associated with anxiety and fear – but that’s ALSO how I feel when I’m excited…

The experience of FEAR and the experience of EXCITEMENT in my body are so similar, in fact, that I am able to SHIFT MY PERSPECTIVE of my experience just by saying to myself, “I’m so excited!” any time I feel those particular sensations.

After doing this for several weeks, when I hear my head-talk turning angry or fearful or causing me to fret or lash out, I actually do get a little excited, because I KNOW that’s a place I can EXPLORE and SHIFT.

I know this may sound like goofy Jack Handy stuff, but I’m telling you, it’s really changing my life. And you can do it, too. I have no special skills or training, I just DECIDED to do it. That’s all. I made the CHOICE to change the words anxiety and fear in my mind to the word excitement. AND, I committed to paying close ATTENTION to the way my BODY feels when I use these words. That’s all. I committed, I observed, I felt, and I changed.

I’m bringing all this up, because last week I asked YOU to write to me with a roadblock of your own – a self-sabotaging way in which you make things harder with your beautiful, brilliant mind (who really just wants something to do, to protect and create, it’s genius really). THANK YOU for bravely sharing your own powerful examples of the genius that is the bodymind.

Let us appreciate, for a moment, the strength and intelligence of these behaviors, which were literally designed by your own body to keep you safe from dangers (perceived or real) at some point in your life. To keep your bright, curious, impulsive SOUL safe in its earthly body.

They are patterns that you taught yourself for a reason, probably a very good reason. So, you can say THANK YOU to your brain now, and really mean it, because you no longer need this pattern to keep you safe. In fact, it’s probably begun to keep you down. Which is why you are calling it “self-sabotage.” You KNOW. Your higher intelligence knows.

Here are some of the brilliant situations YOU offered in which you find yourselves in your own way:

“Endlessly bickering with my kids like I’m on auto-pilot.”
“Staying in a corporate job that sucks my soul, when I know I am called to [insert totally awesome skill here].”
“Losing myself in the name of intimate relationship.”
“Withholding myself inside my relationship.”
“My demons are in my (creative) work.”
“Addicted to my cell phone.”
“Skipping my workouts and telling myself it’s OK once, but then it snowballs into weeks.”

It’s not the situation or the behavior itself, really, that’s causing us suffering. It’s our JUDGMENT that the situation or behavior should somehow be DIFFERENT. This is where we cause ourselves the most PAIN. In Buddhism this is referred to as the second dart. The first dart is the pain of the situation itself; the second dart is the way we beat ourselves up for it and perpetuate our own suffering.

So, right there, that’s one thing you can do the next time this barrier rears its ugly head in your awareness – WATCH and LISTEN for the second dart. Then give yourself a little break. Maybe a kind word, a few breaths, a loving gesture.

Next, notice how it feels in your BODY when you’re inside one of these moments. Identify a SENSATION or two that always seems to accompany this behavior or situation. Give yourself some me-time to sit with that sensation and breathe into it. Put your hand on it, or move around with it. Thank it for protecting you.

Finally, find some way to FLIP the meaning you give this behavior. Instead of telling yourself what an awful beast you are, give yourself something nice to say. For me it’s “I’m excited! I wonder what’s gonna happen!” instead of “I’m anxious and I gotta fix this shit RIGHT NOW.” If you give yourself even a little time and space to think about this, the right phrase will come to you. You may not have to believe it right away, but it does have to resonate with you; it has to come from your own higher self.

Listen, you are NOT alone in the struggle. We ALL do this shit. Most of us accept and tolerate these irritations as the status quo, and we never move beyond them. I think this is mostly because we don’t really BELIEVE we CAN.

Well, you CAN.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.

All it takes is that one decision – the CHOICE to COMMIT to the SHIFT. Then you’re on the road to emotional FREEDOM and spiritual INTEGRITY.

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