please note: this blog was not the result of a prompt from Leo, I just wanted to write it. It's mostly for myself to process what I'm thinking, and it's not edited at all.
I've been thinking alot about what Leo is proposing, that fear is the root of all of blocks we see in our lives. it makes sense. I was listening to KPFK 90.7 yesterday during their fundraiser and they had a guest who was talking about the stories we tell ourselves that are defeating, how we see ourselves in a particular situation or problem the way we would have seen ourselves when we first encountered this problem, that is probably as young children, teens or adults.
we are stuck there essentially. stuck in a story about this problem and stuck in a story about the results of this problem.
i totally get this intellectually, but there's a saying in spanish: del dicho al hecho hay un gran trecho... or from words to action there's a big gap.
I am taking on this challenge for multiple reasons, the most pressing is finances, but the most important is my health and well-being. I think procrastination is also up there, but I think they're all interrelated, they all have to do with self-care -- and self-fulfillment as a function of self-care.
I am an activist for lgbt and immigrant rights and what many would consider a radical thinker. politically I sit on the margins, but I do not talk about it publicly nor do i fit a mold of what you would think i should look like or act like. I work in an office, and know how to participate in polite conversation, but i usually dissent. a lot of my activism has to do with the realm of the mind and thoughts, so I work with media, and other influencers and try to persuade and influence them to see things from a different perspective. i have developed a lot of patience and perspective in this work, as humans are complex but also can hold on to their ideas very tightly.
with all of this said, a lot of my personal work has been to dive deep into the realms of spiritual and mental health practice. I've had to find a way to be stable, quiet in chaos, so I can think and move towards where I need to be so I can be a step ahead. It's interesting work, but it can be taxing.
On the flipside, I have found it hard to practice self-care in a way that supports my physicalness (my body, my finances, my spaces). additionally my mental health suffers as I pile on stress and emotions and do not exercise to get it out, or practice meditation or yoga, etc. I know these things to be true, and I believe in a oneness of my body spirit and mind, but that the health of each part of me requires a different approach.
to my earlier reference, a lot of radical thinkers, particularly in the black feminist movement write and think a lot about self-care as a radical act. in a system where your thoughts and your physicalness are not encouraged to thrive, the very act of health and well-being is a win. While i am not black or a womyn and cannot understand the realities the black community lives, i am a mixed-race queer man of color who's multiple backgrounds and identities are often at odds with mainstream culture.
With that said, I've been spending a lot of time trying to understand what self-care means in the context I live in. I must work, i must work hard. I must be in solidarity with my community, that means going out to marches, being present in conflict, staying engaged in dialogue, being a friend and support as those in my community navigate through life. Sometimes those things come into conflict with my own personal care, my well-being, which when you add the layer of fear, perhaps it is easier to untangle.
In some of my previous work/reading around co-dependency (a problematic identity i had but have shed since), they tell co-dependents that you like to take care of others because you don't think you're worth taking care of. I think it feeds into this construct of brokenness and emotional damagedness in marginalized communities. I do not like this at all.
I instead want to take a more nuanced look at my concept of self-care within my community, and explore what it means to be present in community, all the while taking care of my needs. All of my formal education wants to create a black and white concept, a pendulum concept about how these things work, as if it's either self-care or community. One or the other.
My knew knowledge, my body wisdom, growing emotional intelligence tells me that my experience and thinking exist in a multiplicity, a complex, dynamic reality that is nothing like a pendulum that swings one way or the other. It is much more like the natural world: complex, changing, multiple modes of learning.
So when i see myself using biological relationships in nature as an analogy or a starting point to understand my situation, it releases the pressure and I can begin to create solutions that are not painful, or at minimum not self-flagrant.
I cannot believe in a concept of self-care and community that pits them against each other, nor can I believe in a concept of my self as a damaged, emotionally and spiritually incapacitated soul. The narrative of "brokenness" is an important one, though, and I think it speaks of pain and frustration, the darkness that is felt because of our lived experiences, but it does not have to be labeled as brokenness, I'd prefer fragmented or blocked.
So back to my original thesis, perhaps we are blocked. We have become rigid in our thinking and in the way we let our stories about ourselves dictate the solutions to our problems. We have lost the flexibility and the openness to trust ourselves, our bodies and our wisdom, to heal ourselves and create our own solutions. This fragmentedness is because of oppression through erasure of hystory, education, media, patriarchy et all. We all suffer different levels of fragmentedness, though, just important to point out.
Back to fear, it is scary to let go of structures we have built for ourselves. Just like a child has to let go of their favorite blanky, stuffed animal, we must let go too of the constructs we've made for ourselves and let our whole self breathe and feel confident. i think this is where fear comes in. It is so scary to do something new, especially when your emotions start to move after being blocked for so long.
I offer that when we are stuck in our stories/habits, they are most enforced by the emotions surrounding the habits. for example, i tend to be an emotional eater, which by definition is related to emotions. If I was to break this story/pattern, all of a sudden I would let that anxiety/sadness or whatever linger and it may even grow. this is so scary.
if according to Karla McLaren (Language of Emotions), our emotions and feelings are a biological creation to help us survive, then it must be true that their automatic nature was programmed very early on so that we could survive. that means these patterns or habits are sometimes deep set and have some strong emotions around them. so interesting.
and here is where I am right now: emotions are not a cut and dry science, they're not like the "rational brain" which tries to make everything logical. Neither is body wisdom. Our bodies cringe or move or show openness (afterall, they say 70% of communication is body language), and so much of what our bodies do is unconscious or very instantaneous and hard to control.
so where I am and what I'm thinking/feeling is confusion. Part of making new habits and stories for me has been that I'm confused as to what is "the right thing to do." I want to acknowledge that there are some things (like finances) that are contextual, of course it's appropriate to save for retirement in a capitalist society. others touch or are connected to more complex identities/situations like community v. self-care, what does self-care mean in different contexts, how much is okay?
This is the way my mind works, or it's becoming more this way, i see less in black in white and more and more in multiples. there are multiples, and though my rational mind can't deal with it, my emotions and my body can, but they guide me differently than my rational mind. they are slower, and often more painful, because, like mentioned, it can be very painful to change stories/habits because they're so set in that way.
so it can be confusing, when I'm changing a habit -- when i'm resisting something -- it's hard to understand what the emotion is telling me. Is it just the outcome of a new formation of a new story which can be painful, or is the pain or resistance I'm feeling a warning?
do you see where I'm going? Our pain/emotions/body knowledge exist within our system to guide us and provide support or leadership for the conscious brain which is fickle. The rational brain goes all over the place, it really does, so the emotion/body/intuition ground us and point us in the right direction. (which I guess biologists would say is survival, I would say "thriving").
Okay, so when we're engaging in changing our stories/habits, all of a sudden, our rational/conscious self is telling our emotional/body/intuitive self that we need to change some habits. how are the wise, more grounded parts of ourselves going to believe the "rational" fickle self?? it really can't be trusted (i'm kidding of course).
as i'm writing, I'm exploring how the process of changing habits and stories shows up in our selves, our minds and bodies and spirits through emotions and intuition. Sometimes a new directive such as "eating healthy" or "spending less" make sense intellectually, but the body and the spirit need time to process it, and need to be allowed to react however they need to react. this is full integration of all the parts of ourselves.
if we do this work without integration,we can move quickly to create habits, but it will be A) really painful b) not that permanent c) shift from one thing to another (i.e. food to cigarettes).
These are my thoughts. I'm so glad I've written them down. I'm wondering what are the ways for us to help our full-selves move into new habits, how do we help our bodies, our spirits be in agreement with our rational mind? Notice I don't ever say that our body or spirit needs to "catch up" because again, it's not a black or white thing at all, they just move in different realms. We are not broken, we are not emotionally damaged, we are just blocked, fragmented in certain areas of our lives.
we can reintegrate, we can make new stories/habits with our whole selves. next I want to explore making habits/stories with the whole self. how do the mind, body and spirit dialogue and work together for health and well-being?
"It is so scary to do something new, especially when your emotions start to move after being blocked for so long." This sums it up perfectly, Freddy. Very powerful words and thoughts in your post. How does mind, body and spirit all work together? That's the million dollar question, isn't it. I guess the hardest part for me to accept was that the body MUST be in the best possible shape we can keep it in. It's like the base of a pyramid or the foundation of a well-built home. If you build a sandhouse, it's gonna get washed away. When I reached my 30s and started getting annual check-ups, etc., my doctor told me "the best thing you could ever do for yourself would be to walk every day." My old-school emotions instantly said "no way, who's got time for that?" I had a few health issues, and so, I had to pave the way and I did get there. Now, that I've got a fairly decent foundation, it's time to move on to other concerns, many of which you stated above. Leo & Saba did a great job with picking our group. :) Great to know you a little better, Freddy. I'm looking forward to moving all of these old emotions out of the way to make way for the new, along with our team.
(pulled this from evernote... written may 5)
how fear relates to the habits I shared in the questionnaire.
Well i've been thinking about this all weekend. I know there is a deep relation but it's hard to get to and feel the feelings behind everything. I've been reading "how to meditate" by pema chodron and I'm currently working on being present to my emotions. I've been working on emotions for a while, and I'm getting a lot better at being with what is happening. However, I still get confused and overwhelmed by emotions.
With all of that said, I know the root of a lot is fear, like the blog said. I struggle with living within my means, and saving up for the future I want. I also struggle with taking care of my body the way I want. I recently got my blood work done and most was back to normal. My sugar levels and cholestral were a lot more manageable and within the appropriate range. However, lately I"m a little worried I've been eating unhealthy.
I am perhaps more interested or more comnfortable with dealing with the feelings as they come and than to sit with them and process them. This is a simplified explanation because it feels more complex than that. That's the part I don't understand.
Phew, I'm learning what it means to be busy again. Let me say that I adore my job and my coworkers. I'm giddily happy in my job.
But in the process of transition, I have allowed myself to regress by eating poorly, neglecting my tea/meditation time, sinking into Internet distraction when I get home, failing to update my blog.
To distract myself from my perceived failures, I started thinking about all the new things I could buy for the apartment I'm moving into next weekend; new clothes for my new job. All while munching on Oreos and frozen pizza.
But behind the frustration and boredom, the void lingered.
The problem with filling that nagging void with external objects is that we'll always need more, bigger, and better external objects to keep us "happy".