Are you “procrastinating” on something?
Perhaps you think the only way to get certain things done is to force yourself to do them. This principle has worked reasonably well for you in the past. And you’ve got conventional wisdom on your side too: “No pain, no gain.”
But I’m here to challenge that. That approach will only get you so far. Over time, you’ll burn yourself out and make yourself sick. (I speak from experience.) Here too you’ve got plenty of company.
There’s another way I’m learning and it’s this: Live from inspiration. Always. Only do what you’re inspired to do—what you have energy and excitement to do.
Today I spent several hours performing long-overdue maintenance of our composting toilet system, reflecting on the metaphorical implications of knocking down and breaking through walls of, well, compost. Believe it or not, it’s something I’ve been avoiding.
What inspired me to do it today? Partly, the thought of how nice it would be to have it behind me. Also, the thought that it might free up more energy and yield some momentum. I’m not sure altogether. All I know is that I felt like doing it. And I had the energy to do it.
But how can you possibly live from inspiration all the time? Don’t you sometimes need to “take the bull by the horns”—even when you don’t feel like doing it?
I’m just going to say it: NO. You don’t need to abuse yourself, not even in moderation.
You’re probably thinking, “But, but, but…”. I know the thought process. If I drop everything, everything in my life will fall apart! What if I don’t feel like doing anything? Then what?
If you don’t feel like doing anything, then you have a lot of healing to do. So many of us are out of touch with who we are and what we’re meant to do in this life. We’ve adopted the conventional wisdom. We’ve internalized the messages of society that are constantly scrutinizing us and judging us, telling us that we need to get from A to B or else. And thus we live disconnected lives—disconnected from ourselves. Until we heal, our connections with others suffer too, because we look to them to fulfill whatever it is we’re missing on the inside.
Pick an area of your life and begin testing this out. Catch yourself in the middle of self-abuse. Notice the stress that builds up—the headaches, the mild tension and pains as they appear in your body. Then honor yourself by ending the abuse in that moment. Take “force myself” out of your vocabulary. Replace it with…replace it with what?
Ah, here is where you get to be vigilant. You know all that willpower that you’ve been using to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do? Instead, use it to whip your mind into shape. Unless you’re quite intentional about your thoughts, your mind has been going wherever it “feels like” going. In other words, it’s being blown by the wind. Not the wind of the Spirit, mind you, but by the ever-shifting, arbitrary winds of your external circumstances. Too often you don’t realize you have a choice when it comes to your thoughts. You experience life, to varying degrees, as a victim. Now it’s time to, yes, take the bull by the horns and start paying attention to your thoughts and choosing them wisely.
I have a hypothesis which I have been progressively proving in my own life and here it is: staying true to the following affirmations will lead to the elimination of stress:
- I vigilantly guard my heart with powerful affirmations of truth.
- I always do what I feel like doing.
The first affirmation is about taking action (in my thoughts), moving forward, and using my willpower. It is a “meta-affirmation” (an affirmation about affirmations), and as such entails a lot of inner work, paying attention to my thoughts, consciously choosing them, and training my mind to keep going back to those supportive thoughts (using whatever means I can—writing, singing, talking to myself, etc.).
The second affirmation is about how I treat my body. It’s about listening and responding, welcoming, being receptive, and going with the flow.
As of today, I have a new theory about this, thanks to an essay by Sukie Colgrave I found yesterday in a book called Challenge of the Heart. Here’s an excerpt:
Psychological “marriage” of the feminine and masculine within each person imbues its practices with new meaning and life. The injunction that the man must initiate and the woman follow, highly oppressive to many individual women and men in their relationship with each other, can be recognized as wisdom for self-development. For the way of the masculine is actively to organize and initiate, while the way of the feminine is to yield, receive, and harmonize. Both are valued equally.
Regardless of whether you’re a woman or a man, if you are a human in the 21st century Western world, my bet is that you have been overly masculine in approach to your actions and overly feminine in approach to your thoughts.
This is just a model of course, but, looking back, it seems to make sense of a number of my personal insights lately. Here are a few recently tweeted examples:
- In order to bear fruit [children], spiritual insight [feminine] must be joined with a sense of personal destiny [masculine].
- Receiving what you have [feminine] is the first step to creating something new [masculine].
- The fundamental nature of healing—at whatever level—is reunion [sex!].
So there it is. Listen to your body; open yourself up to your deepest desires. Proactively choose your thoughts; create belief structures that align with your highest values. Mother your body, man up your mind.
As a conclusion, here are some of the thoughts I proactively chose while shoveling caca today:
- If I can enjoy (bring joy to) this activity, I can enjoy anything!
- It’s all just energy.
- My challenges perfectly suit me to realize my potential.
And in regard to that last one: Thank God for showers!