Crusader: a person who campaigns vigorously
A few weeks ago, a very precious friend called me with a report that she was “still pregnant” and, thus, rather overdue. “But,” she said in her sage-like voice, “I decided to just live with patience and to accept the situation,” one that tipped precariously between her desire to experience a VBAC and the inevitability of a more medical birth as each day went by.
And, normally, I’d have agreed with her. I’d have nodded my head and repeated back to her the idea that the baby would come when she was ready and that there was nothing she could do. I’d embrace a gentle acceptance too.
But, something came over me as she spoke and I imagined her sitting in a group of elders in some sort of indigenous tribe. It suddenly occurred to me that that group of elders wouldn’t have sat there and said, “Be patient.” No, they would have moved immediately into drawing the wild, strong wolf from within this woman. They would not have asked her to be patient. They would have known it was time to let that little spirit inside her get the message that it was go-time. For the sake of survival, they’d embrace the primal over patience.
My dear friend heard that same message. And, who knows, perhaps the deviation from patience and acceptance was the cause for her water to break the very next day.
A few weeks after that, I was leading one of our Share the Show Up outreach programs at Santa Maria hostel, a group of women required to participate in a 90-day recovery program for a variety of real deal, holy crap reasons. The subject that day was on help, a typical area of difficulty for anyone seeking sobriety. I asked each of them to share what they needed help with, but were not accustomed to receiving help for. One woman spoke up immediately, her eyes half shut from a recent change in medication, “I don’t need help getting here to this program, life did that without me asking. What I need help with is staying clean. That’s the part.”
I drove away that day with the thought that when it comes to real change and real “birth” of something sacred in you, you can’t be gentle and patient. You have to summon the boss from within.
If that woman in that program goes home and decides to apply a level of patience and gentleness to her recovery, she will NOT win. Her mind will talk her right back to the door of her substance of choice. Guaranteed. But, if she is willing to summon the boss inside her and talk to those old, lame, useless thoughts/rationales that are married to her substance of choice, she has a fighting chance.
And, If my overdue friend hadn’t set some primal boundaries - boundaries that actually communicated safety to herself and to her babe - and hadn’t welcomed the strong, wild woman needed to make that birth happen, things may have gone a different way.
This is all a little tricky, because we live in an era of “vulnerability” and “acceptance” self-help. Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed - all of whom are incredible teachers, don't get me wrong - have brought about a wave of "inspired living" that can easily be diluted down to faux-adventure and faux-change. Plus, let’s not forget that all of these great teachers earn a whole lot of money off of dipping into our open wounds of wanting so badly to feel the pulse of our true selves, our purpose. This doesn’t make them bad stewards in any way, it just means that we ought to be a bit more critical of from WHERE they are coming and HOW we apply what they teach.
I personally no longer read self help if I am not actively DOING the thing for which I seek self help. Why? Because the only way to actually make any sort of decent change is to DO first and to receive support and guidance DURING. If you switch that formula up, you’ll just stay three steps in front of the Go Line and you’ll never actually cross it. Why? Because your body and your soul get enough inspired sediment to go another day with just idea absorption. You’ll feel inspired. You’ll feel informed. You’ll feel soothed. So much so that the itch to cross that Go Line numbs away for another day. And another day becomes another week and another week becomes another year.
Think about it. The reason Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed have anything powerful to say at all is not because they learned it from a great book or a good quote. These are all women who learned what they did by doing, by experiencing. Period. They will be excellent guides for you in sustaining your change, but I promise you, they will not be the voice that gets you over the Go Line.
Most of them, like most everyone else I know, needed a huge massive incredibly painful blow (aka, rock bottom) to get up and do something. Let’s call this The External Boss. She doesn’t care about your standards, your position in life, your possessions, even your health. She cares solely for your worth and your equilibrium and your right livelihood and for the collective health. And she will do whatever is necessary to get you there. Which is why, for most of humanity, she often gets called into action at some point in everyone’s life. Car accidents, DUIs, divorces, cancer/illness, loss, poverty, etc. These are all beautiful, terrifying examples of The External Boss.
But, inside of you lives a super powerful, nurturing Internal Boss. She’s the one I am asking you to summon if you want to make any positive change in your life. She’s got a strong voice and she’s got strong words. My Internal Boss comes wearing a few weapons too. One is an electric fly swatter that bats away lame thoughts/rationales. Another is a bullet proof vest so that I keep a hold of boundaries during the change. And yet another one is a pair of blinders. She knows that on the brink of change is when I am most vulnerable to other people, past thought patterns, old triggers, and comforts of the world that numb me from that temporary phase of the focused and determined climb to wholeness.
Stop being so patient. Please, summon the boss inside of you before the external boss needs to come a-knockin'. Find out what she sounds like and grab her hand and say, I TRUST YOU and then just jump into her requests. Like I said above, it’s temporary. There’s no room for anything else now, though, and there is really only one way to earn a wholeness your deserve: Experience.
Now, quick but important side note:
Summoning the boss does not mean you are abusing yourself into submission. There’s a distinct difference between pummeling yourself and holding yourself to your unique high standard. Holding yourself to that standard is positive and affirming - a battle cry for wholeness.
Pummeling yourself is actually yet another way you keep yourself from that standard. When we pummel ourselves, we are harmfully attaching our soul to our behavior. We are saying, “I didn’t do this, so I am hopeless and worthless.” Don’t let that happen. The internal boss is actually very loving and never abusive, even if her words and boundaries are strong and unwavering. She says, “Hey, you are screwing this up, but that’s cool, you deserve better and you can do better.”
Summon the boss. Stop tilling the soil gently and stop saying positive fluffy affirmations outside of “I can handle this” and “I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach my Wholeness.” When you’ve crossed over into the land of Experience, then you can call into action the Internal Cushion, but only then.
I know that there is at least one thing in your life that is begging for you to cross the Go Line. Mine too. Why not practice doing that right now, without excuse and without an ounce more of self-helpdom? Be that person who is able to look back and teach about what Experience feels like.