Dear Person Who Maybe (Like Me) Doesn’t Yet Feel 100% Free,
I’d like to introduce you to the Unlikely Touchpoints. The Touchpoints are a means of navigating the difficult emotions and self-defeating thought patterns that can make us feel a little sick inside, our guts clenched and a vice around our head, ready to go to war with the world around us. When you incorporate the Touchpoints into your daily interactions you’ll find yourself softening in mind, body and heart. You’ll find yourself at greater peace with the people you interact with and the projects you take on. The Unlikely Touchpoints are more than a means of feeling and doing better. When truly internalized, they offer an end to struggle. ALL struggle.
Let me explain.
As a child I spent a lot of time, energy and angst focused on how to be a good person. My childhood was spent more in isolation and anxiety than in joy and play because I was constantly worried about my behavior towards others – that I might accidentally offend or injure someone emotionally. I would stay up all night long reviewing my day, seeing only where I had failed to be kind, generous, industrious enough. I’d convinced myself that I must “create value” for others in all situations and believed I was forever falling short of this goal.
Rigid beliefs had boxed me in. I had no idea anything existed beyond the walls of my beliefs.
I’d like to say I just “woke up” one day. That I simply crawled out of the box and was met with sparkling vistas and angelic beings cheering. Can’t say that. It was a process.
How did it begin?
I became an investigator of the stories I was telling myself. Many tools helped me.
Through meditation I found a still point within from which I could view my own thoughts. And they were extreme. I saw the insanity of blame and self-recrimination that went on in my head, the hyperbolic “should-ing” I was doing to myself and others, that I was basically a walking catastrophizer. I saw the rebellious counter-force inside of me that would sabotage friendships, work projects and creative pursuits just to take back control. I saw that the world I was living inside was a future world. I wasn’t living in the actual world so much as anticipating it — mainly through dread.
I wanted to know the real world. I wanted out of the one in my head.
Through various psychological and spiritual methods (cognitive behavioral therapy, somatic experiencing, shaman work), I discovered what the rage and paranoia were protecting: a very young girl frozen in time, so terrified of the judgements of others that she’d created a fortress of beliefs to keep her safe. This fortress had arrows pointing two ways: 1) outside her box, manipulating others to get them to not “hate” her 2) inside her box, punishing herself for what she imagined others thought of her. When the belief wall fell, the fear and rage went with it.
In short, I looked into the causes of my suffering, and saw that the suffering began with me.
With these insights my heart began to soften. The walls of the box became transparent. I began to see more of the world around me, and it was shimmering, full of color and shape, a world I now engaged in with wonder and amazement, high with gratitude that I was alive at all, that any of this was here to be experienced by anyone.
With this newfound gratitude I summoned the courage to look into the eyes of those I assumed disliked me and listen. I didn’t just listen with my mind. No matter how painful their perspectives, I did my best to feel where they were coming from in my body. I learned that the sensations in my physical being were valuable pointers to where I was still storing stories. In letting go of the stories I had about other people opportunities began to appear in the most unlikely places. I began to collaborate with people that media/society/political institutions claimed I would never see, and who would never see me. I saw how much we had in common. It was far, far greater than what we didn’t.
All of us, to the person, had made unconscious agreements to rules, codes and beliefs that were now imprisoning us. And inside all of us, behind those prison walls, was a precious stillness through which our hearts long to speak.
And what was my heart saying?
It wanted freedom. The freedom to fail, fall down and LAUGH about it. The freedom to celebrate the little disasters, the muddled speeches and stupefying encounters, to be vulnerable and share it all, not from a place of knowing, but from a place of not knowing. How else would I learn? How else would I grow? How else would I know I was alive than to experience all of it?
This was a call to finally embrace my life. To embrace EVERYTHING.
With this new way of being, a new lexicon began to emerge in me. Its energy was acceptance. If the old code was about living up to social pressures and seeking approval, the new one was about dissolving codes and accepting who I was right now, fully and without reservation, and going from there.
As the language took shape on the page it revealed itself as a guide. A set of Touchpoints to help navigate the difficult emotions and self-defeating thought patterns that had co-opted my trust in other people, and my respect for myself.
I use it to this day.
Because I still fall back in the box. I still fall prey to the belief that I have something to prove. But it’s okay. Life is not a linear progression forward. Nor is it a nihilist flat circle going nowhere on repeat. It’s a spiral. Every time I make a trip around the spiral I go deeper into the causes of my own suffering, and experience more of the freedom that is available to every human being who’s willing to let go of her beliefs.
These Touchpoints live inside of everyone. How they reveal themselves depends on how deeply we’re willing to look.
Welcome to Embracing Everything: The Unlikely Touchpoints to Self-Discovery. For me they’re both the process and the goal, the means and the end.