At the beginning of this blog in summer 2017 I thought this is all about ‘learning’. My aim was to expand my toolbox in order to be more productive, more balanced, more happy (Whatever that meant to me at this point in time.). I thought: “If I’d just learnt this lifehack.” “If I’d just be able to master my mind like successful person xy.”, everything would be perfect.
I failed adapting most of productivity hacks. I couldn’t develop these ‘healthy routines’ that supposedly would project an undreamt-of-degree of happiness into my life. Nothing improved. I might got slightly more stuff done, but my overall well-being hadn’t improved. And: I didn’t have the slightest idea how I wanted to feel.
“Why do you only think black and white?”, my therapist during this time called upon my lacking self-compassion. I didn’t have a proper answer. There was only this massive wall of perfectionism sealing off my potential. I could touch it, but I didn’t know how to demolish it.
I had to dig deeper. This was for sure. What I found was a lot of pain buried deep down under my obsessive will to ‘improve myself’. Under the pain there were my strengths downtrodden by my negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviours.
My mission was not to add something to my personality, but to reveal my individual traits. These characteristics are my weapons. These are the tools that help me to fulfill my purpose in this world. Happiness or let’s call it contentment is what comes naturally with accepting and integrating these peculiarities.
My task in this lifetime is to eradicate toxic habits in order to root up my real me. This requires commitment and courage. I can’t just ‘adapt’ other peoples methods of being productive, creative or self-disciplined. I have to develop my own strategies.
What I found out was that my bad habits and my thinking-patterns are not my own. I adopted them. I’m conditioned to think in a certain way. I’m conditioned to judge, to react, to be afraid. The good news is: I have the power to change.
But how? How do I unlearn? How do I re-condition? By pausing. By observing and by questioning my behaviour and my thoughts. The following to-do’s are not necessarily consecutive, they are interdependent. You will understand why:
1. Observe Your Behaviour
The first step in our process of unlearning is to observe. By observing we create a gap between us and our actions. Things change aggregate state as soon as we look at them. Habits lose their power as soon as we catch them unattended. They move from a subconscious level to consciousness.
This is something we can integrate into our daily life. “Again I wasted my energy for some stupid shit.” So what? This realization is the type of observation we need in order to create a gap.
It doesn’t only apply to actions, but also to thoughts. If the immoderate perfectionism is lurking, we just ask him what he wants. And there it is again: The gap. As soon as you look right into the eyes of your perfectionism it loses its power.
2. Detach From Your Conditions
If I keep telling myself “Stop this stupid perfectionism” I’m narrowing this gap again. I become a victim of the characteristic that I want to eliminate.
By punishing myself my mind becomes my enemy again. My whole body gets tight. I’m falling into subconscious behaviour.
The only option is “to let go”, to detach from it. To not see it as my trait, but as something that occurs every now and then. This way I look at my supposedly mistakes and surrender. If I take them lightly I don’t get trapped again.
3. Question Your Desires
Questioning became my tool to explore my needs and get to the core of my being. I found out that I can’t know what I want, but I can feel it – if I ask honest questions and take the time to find the answer.
To stay with the example of poisonous perfectionism: I asked myself. “Why am I such a perfectionist?”. The answer is that I’m not allowing myself mistakes, because I’m afraid to not be lovable. So, the desire under my desire to be perfect is to be loved. This reveals a complete different need. My need is not to be perfect, but to be loved.
More and more it becomes obvious why all my attempts to live happily failed. By following all these notions and desires blindly I distracted myself. I cured the symtoms, but I didn’t try to heal myself.
4. Connect With Yourself
I didn’t question if what I wanted was what I really wanted or just what I was told to be wanting or what I thought could fix my lack of self-esteem.
I wanted to become somebody instead of accepting who I am. I was not able to connect with myself and find out about my real qualities. It is not possible to find purpose anywhere else apart from at the very core of my being.
5. Alter Your Habits
There is always this thin line between not being too hard on myself and becoming the person who I want to be. But after all it is inevitable to start walking on the tight-rope of self-improvement.
In order to unlearn we need to be willing to change. That’s the only reason why we should look at our behaviours, question them, detach from them and finally connect with ourselves. The next step is to do what is good for you – for your real you. And then DO IT. Alter it. Don’t do what doesn’t serve you anymore…. (I know, it’s harder said than done, but it is possible by making conscious choices!).
Through this whole procedure we reach a complete new layer of consciousness. This is how we are diving into the unknown – how we connect with the divine of our existence. This is how we enter new territory – by overcoming our old destructive behavioral patterns and reconstructing our self-worth.