Regardless of how tired we are, we must get up for work. We crave silence but must take care of the children. Our soul cries for time to just BE but we must do what needs to be done. We live in a culture where ‘override’ is the norm. Instead of listening to the messages that bubble up from deep within, we cater to the demands of the world; a world that demands more and more of us all the time.
There is very little reprieve and if we’re lucky there’s a crumb left over for self-care or soul-care once the laundry, the groceries, and all the rest of the life maintenance is done. We look forward to our two week holiday once per year and then spend it tucked into bed with the flu as our body uses its chance for deep rest and recalibration.
I’m exaggerating a little (or maybe not), simply to make a point about how overriding our deepest needs is the normal mode of operation in our culture.
While there is something absolutely noble about doing what needs to be done, it often leaves little time to listen deeply and to be present with the wisdom that bubbles up from within our beings. I know people who are living ‘out of alignment’ but don’t feel they have the time to stop and course correct. I think this is very common. For some the elastic band surprisingly doesn’t snap back at all, it just keeps stretching. There’s some kind of balance in place amidst the imbalance, a kind of homeostasis, and life just keeps going.
For me, and others like me, saying the elastic band snaps back is the understatement of the year. The elastic band implodes. My own ‘override’ became extreme and I caught it way too late.
As they say, a whisper becomes a roar.
On the outside I was living a good life, good enough anyways, and ironically it was an alternative life that I had chosen for myself teaching yoga, facilitating movement arts, and performing. However, beneath the appearance of ‘doing what I loved’ there was a deep misalign. I kept pushing myself forward in the name of ‘getting ahead’ or ‘making ends meet’. There was always a dire reason not to stop whether the rent was due, or there was another workshop to run, or because I felt like my students were counting on me. The self-betrayals were small, relatively speaking, but they added up to major misalignment, a misalignment that my body could no longer hide.
My bills were being paid but my body, heart, and soul were bankrupt.
I remember going for acupuncture as I was starting to feel frighteningly ill. The message was getting too loud to ignore. I was scared. I was cutting back and cutting back on my weekly yoga classes but still felt beyond exhausted. As I expressed my inability to keep up, my acupuncturist told me that the expectations on us in our culture are truly insane. He told me that in hunting/gathering cultures that people actively work for about 8-10 hours a week. The rest of the time was for crafting, play, socializing, and rest. I was beginning to realize that I was creating an insane deficit in my body under the name of trying to do what was ‘normal’. I was teetering on the edge of an abyss and began to realize that I was running out of strength to hold onto the edge.
I learned that override is essentially self-betrayal.
We override because other people are doing it and they seem fine, because it’s what’s expected of us, or because we ‘should’ be able to do it—whatever it is. When we override we are out of integrity and doing what is out of alignment with our deepest needs and our true yes. It can be something seemingly harmless like drinking a coffee when a nap is what’s really needed or something major like putting our well-being on the line for a paycheck—which is eventually what I realized I was doing.
As a sensitive being I’ve always felt like I don’t have the ‘buffer’ for overriding that others have. I was never able to miss sleep and feel okay the next day, to drink alcohol, hang out in fluorescent lights and loud music at the mall, or expose myself to things that feel yucky to my soul. There seemed to always be a high cost for overriding even before I fell ill. This is a blessing and also a ridiculous curse! Things that are ‘normal’ to others are intolerable or abrasive to me. Most people seem to have an ability to push through, they have some kind of buffer that I’ve never seemed to have. They are adaptable in some mysterious way that I can’t relate to. Other sensitive souls know exactly what I mean.
We are trained out of listening. We are taught from a young age to do what is required, whether that’s sitting up straight in a desk when our body wants to move, or waiting until recess to use the washroom when we really need to go right now.
I think for many people the communication pathway gets interrupted. We’re tired but stop actually feeling our tiredness. We’re hungry but the last few items on our to do list have our attention. It gets to the point where we don’t actually know how we feel or what we need anymore. We’ve stuffed those organic responses so far down to be able to operate in the world that they’re hard to retrieve and access when we really need them.
As a result of this disconnect, many people don’t know what they love anymore, they don’t know what they need, or what their deepest being is communicating to them. Part of this disassociation from our deepest selves manifests as not really knowing why we’re here, what our purpose is, or what meaning our life has for us. We become separate from the inherent wisdom and connection that is our birthright.
For some, our awakening entails a period of illness, and when we get sick we have to retrain ourselves to listen and to reconnect because our life actually depends on it. We have to unlearn our numbing to get back in touch with our truth. We have to plug back in to the basic soundness of resting when we’re tired and eating when we’re hungry to promote healing. As we fine tune our intuition we tap into what food our body is asking for, what medicine supports us best, and what we need on deeper emotional and spiritual levels. Our healing is depended on reconnecting to these deep and primal messages that we got so used to overriding to try to keep up with the world.
I believe that healing happens when we plug back into the truth of our beings.
In my own journey, the message that came up loud and clear, time and time again when I asked ‘what do I need?’ is that 'I need to attend to myself deeply.’ My symptoms were messengers letting me know that I could not keep overriding and that my presence and attention were being requested by my deepest being.
Years of small self-betrayals had added up to a massive deficit.
This message came up again and again and still does to this day. I must attend to myself deeply. Perhaps this message resonates with you too. When I do attend to myself deeply, all that I need is available to me—my own heart wisdom, my body’s primal knowing, and a connection to consciousness itself. When I truly listen all the answers are being provided as to what the next step in my healing is, what I require to get well, what works for me, and what I must let go of.
I believe in my heart that this wisdom, this knowing, this awareness resides at the center of all our beings and that it is in our power to plug back into it. Regardless of how impossible it may seem now, regardless of how detached we may feel, we are still connected and when we honor this connection and listen to ourselves, we heal.
:: EXPLORE ::
Imagine prioritizing listening to the messages bubbling up from within. How might this change how you go about your day? Can you imagine a day with no overriding? The next time you have an opportunity, whether it’s an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend, I invite you to practice listening and moving from the wisdom that bubbles up from within. This means that we eat when we’re hungry; we rest when we’re tired, and we move our bodies when we have the impulse to move. Additionally, this means listening to the calls of your soul to paint, to write, to call a friend, or to do what you’re moved to do. Leaving all your ‘shoulds’ aside just for now, use these question to guide your exploration: What must I do? What do I need? What do I want? What takes care of me? What would delight me?
Copyright © 2015 Marie-Ève Bonneau