Sometimes things feel so big or overwhelming or both that we forget everything we have learned, even things we thought we had “mastered”. All the old wounds that we have been working on healing get triggered. And all the crazy thoughts we “thought” we had moved past come crashing back in. That is what we humans are wired, neurologically, to do.
You see neurons that wire together, fire together. What that means is when you think, feel and do things over and over they become neurologically wired into your brain. Think of it as walking through the woods the same way, day after day for years. That process of daily walking makes a path through the woods. The longer you make that same journey, the deeper that path becomes.
Our brains work in a similar way; when we habitually think, feel and do the same things over and over a really deep route gets placed in our neural pathways. And just like the path through the woods; a well-worn path is much easier to navigate. (more on that later)
The really cool part about our amazing brains; is that just like in the woods we can form new pathways. Let’s say that after 30 years of walking the same path through the woods you one day decide to go a different way. What we know is that venturing off the “beaten path” can be difficult, takes more effort and more attention. In the woods, when we forge a new pathway, we have to remove the briars, move rocks, cut branches and relocate blocks to our new path. We know that a new path through the woods will take us time to create. We know that no matter how quickly we think it “should” happen, it will take as long as it takes. So, we decide we will have to make this new journey consistently and persistently before we begin seeing the actual pathway emerge.
That is how we have to create new neurological pathways in our brains. We do the new things over and over and over again. We change the way we think, which changes the way we feel, which then changes the way we behave. But this is much easier to talk about than to actually do. It is hard to do because just like in the woods there are obstacles; in our brains there a blockages too! You see all of those old stories and feelings are deeply written into our neural pathways. So, when we begin the process of transforming it takes lots of time, patience and self-compassion to build that new pathway through the “woods” of your mind.
A really important part of this process to remember is that the old neurological pathway, the one you are working so hard to change, is still strong. Those neurological pathways in our mind are like the old path through the woods. If we get tired of blazing a new trail, we can hop over to the old pathway and have a “easier” journey.
Even for those of us who have been working on ourselves for years step onto that old pathway sometimes. It is especially easy when we are stressed or overwhelmed or tired or lonely….. Who among us hasn’t felt those things throughout this crazy year?
The past 3-4 months have been incredibly amazing and yet very overwhelming for me. I was doing my counseling and coaching full time. I was creating in all my spare time getting ready for a very big show. I’m taking a transformational coaching course, that is really making me dig deep. And I was purging my home of 20 years to get ready to have new floors put in. See, all of those things are really good, yes? I am blessed! And even though I know and believe that with all my heart; I found myself right back in the middle of my old trauma related ways of thinking, feeling and being. Several times. The good part is those “old ways” are not nearly as strong as they used to be, they don’t last as long as they used to and they don’t hurt others the way they used to. It is like the pathway through the woods has started the slow process of being over-grown.
The more we work on forging those new pathways the more the “old” ways become uncomfortable. During the process of transforming more deeply into authenticity we begin to recognize that being present in the moment is where to real juice of life is. This moment is where the flow can be accessed. This moment is where love can be found, always. This moment is where we are fully our authentic selves. This moment is where we can access the reality of our Oneness. When that way of living, loving and relating becomes more normal, when those neural pathways start becoming strong, stepping into the old way of being feels uncomfortable, feels like something is missing, just feels yucky.
So, if you find yourself sliding back into old ways of being, like I did, have compassion. Our minds will want to shame us for sliding ‘backwards” or make us feel guilty for “not working hard enough”. But really what happened is during a time of stress your mind took the path of least resistance, it took a walk on the easy path through the woods. It’s just did what human brains do.
As I remind you to have self-compassion to offer yourself grace, I am also reminding myself. It seems that the more compassion and grace we can hold for ourselves, the more we can hold for others. Let us all with compassion and kindness recognize when we step off the path of becoming and gently step back into that place of presence, back into the moment, back into our hearts, back into grace, back into love. If we do that over and over, not only will we change, but we will change the world too.
Sending you all much peace, joy and love!