Being Human, Living Full: Want to push it a little?

Being Human, Living Full: Want to Push it a Little?

So we’re on the way to getting this ‘being human’ thing sorted. But there’s always room to push it a little.

One of the best parts of being human is that when we push ourselves at the edges, however it turns out, we still get to be human. We might bruise a little, sometimes a lot, we might fall – but it’s nothing we can’t deal with. Eventually we’ll find our feet, get up and dust off, usually better, stronger, wiser than before. We can be pretty amazing like that.

Something else might happen if we push ourselves. We might also lift. We might find something out about ourselves that’s surprising, exciting and pretty excellent. The things we hide under the history and habits, the shoulds and the shouldn’ts. 

Change and flourish come from challenge, but challenge is individual – what’s challenging for you might be pedestrian for another, and what’s challenging for them, might be ‘meh’ for you. Here are some ideas for ways to stretch, push the limits and maybe uncover the potential of you just a little bit more – because it’s there. You don’t need to analyse it and you don’t need to know how it will end. Just step in and let go – even if only for short while – and see what happens …

  1. Be vulnerable.

    Being prepared to be vulnerable is the first step to all sorts of wonderful. It’s one of the hardest things and the best things. Vulnerability and courage are deeply connected and they always show-up together – always. One can’t exist without the other. Fear feels like a stop sign, but it’s not. It’s a sign that you’re about to do something really brave – life-changing even – that you’re on the brink of something beautiful.

    Vulnerability is the deep breath in and the leap. It’s the courage and boldness to step forward when shame and fear are doing their best to hold you back. 

    For me, brilliant things have happened in those moments of absolute fear when I could have so easily chosen ‘no’, but chose ‘yes’ instead. They’re decisions that could have gone either way. They’ve existed side by side with breathtaking fear – but the decision to be vulnerable has brought enough courage for the fear not to matter enough. It doesn’t go away, it just doesn’t matter enough. That’s how it is.

    Of course, my decisions to be vulnerable haven’t always ended with grace – sometimes I’ve fallen, maybe face planted once or lots of times – but none of the fallout is permanent. What I know for sure is that it’s because of those moments in which I’ve said ‘yes’, that I have many of the people, experiences and things that I would never want to be without. I wouldn’t have the relationships I have (‘but if I stay past ‘hello’ I might run out of things to say / say something stupid/ spill my drink down the front of my dress – all of these things have happened, but I’ve also fallen in love, discovered people I wouldn’t want to be without, learned things, made impressions). I wouldn’t have started running (‘Run? Um, yeah no. I can’t even run late without getting puffed and sweaty and gasping for breath on the floor – I still get puffed, sweaty and gasp for breath on the floor but at least now it’s when I’ve done more physical activity than stirring in a teaspoon of sugar). I wouldn’t have travelled (‘but I have no money, no idea and I’ve barely travelled past my mailbox -‘backpacking overseas? Yeah okay. Let’s go through the Middle East, hey?’) I wouldn’t have this website, which I love (the reasons ‘not to’ would fill a city library, but the reason ‘to’ (because it felt right) was bigger – and the only one that mattered).

    If you were given a free pass to move towards something, knowing that whatever happened, you would be absolutely fine, what would you do? A new relationship? A new job? A holiday? An adventure? A new city? A hobby? Would you tell him (or her) how you really feel? Unless it involves swimming with sharks in a pool, chances are you’ll come out not-dead. What’s even more likely, is that you’ll come through having done something amazing.

  2. Play

    As humans, we’re not only capable of play, we’re meant for it. It’s one of the important ways we connect with other people and with ourselves. It forms the basis of successful relationships. Relationships in which people don’t play together eventually wither and die. 

    We know how important play is for children, but research is showing that it’s also important for adults. Play relieves stress, helps our relationships to thrive and develops the brain. As psychiatrist Dr Stuart Brown puts it, ‘Nothing lights up the brain like play.’

    Brown suggests we integrate play into our lives, not just make time for it, by thinking back to our earliest memories of play and then working forwards to see where it fits in. There are so many different types of play – humour, sport (for fun – with a team), flirtation, movies, fantasy, games. Experiment – see which one fits best.

  3. Love your body.

    The thing about us humans is this: We all have a body and those bodies come in thousands of different shapes. It’s just the way it is so we need to deal with it. Worrying about the shape we come in is stopping too many awesome people from being seen, and the world is a little short on awesome people at the moment so can we just stop! The shape you come in doesn’t define you, but it might define the idiots around you who think it does.

    There are few things more beautiful than someone who looks as though they love the skin they’re in. Maybe they actually do love it, maybe they don’t – who knows – but what I do know is that people who act as though they’re happy to be who they are are strikingly beautiful – whether they’re a size 0 or size 16 or beyond.’ It’s this way for people with lumpy thighs, skinny thighs, curved hips, no hips, flat tummies, unflat tummies, boobs, no boobs and cellulite. I don’t know who took these things out of the general definition of ‘beautiful’ but I, for one, am ready to see them go back in.

    How would you be different if you celebrated your body instead of hid it? How would you sit? Stand? Talk? Dress? Be? Just try it for an hour. Then two. Then a day. Just start with five minutes if you want. There’s nothing to lose – for the moment it’s just pretending. You don’t actually have to like your body. You just have to act as if you do. You can always go back to the old way if you want. But just try it – and be open to liking how it feels.

  4. Act as though everything is geared in your favour.

    Too often the biggest thing standing in our way is ourselves. There will always be reasons to hold back but they’re often not as honest as the reasons to move forward. As humans, we’re hardwired to detect threat and to act on that. It’s called a negative bias and it can be so convincing! It wraps us up in a warm bundle of ‘just don’t go there, K?’ and holds us tight – too tight sometimes – but that’s its job, to keep us safe.

    The thing is, just because there are reasons not to move forward, doesn’t mean those reasons are worth holding ourselves back for. How would you be different if you knew beyond doubt that everything that happened to you today, and all the days after that, were to move you forward? What would you do? What would you try? How would you ‘be’ in the world? What would people see? What would you say? Who would you say it to?

    Try acting as if there was nothing in your way, even if it’s just for the first five minutes of leaving the house. It might feel awkward at first. New things always do. But it’s just a habit like any other. The more you do it, the more you’ll believe it. There’s always less standing in your way than you think there is.

    I know this works because I do this regularly myself. Being in a room full of strangers tends to unsettle me – and by unsettle, I mean it kind of terrifies me. There was a time where I would always be late to things because I would be stuck deciding whether or not I would just be best to stay at home and home-tattoo the alphabet into the soles of my feet – it seemed like a reasonable alternative. Both equal in pain value. For a while now, I’ve been going into these things acting as though nothing could go wrong and as though everything that was about to happen was going to work in my favour. That makes them kind of exciting – the discovery, the potential, the possibilities. It’s a way to deal with anxious energy and make it positive. Anxiety is energy. Being anxious about an outcome means you focus on the things that could go wrong. Turning this around and acting as though everything that happens will be good for you means you are more likely to focus on the possibilities. Research has found that the effects of changing outlook in this way are real. Science, you make sense of things – and this is why we love you.

There are plenty of ways to stretch. These are only 4 of them. Often, it’s the times we need to feel brave that we feel least brave of all. That’s okay, and so normal. It’s a sign that we’re at the edge of ourselves and about to move beyond it. It means something exciting is about to happen, so let go – take a risk, play, love your body, believe that the world is working hard for you.

If you don’t feel brave, fake it. They look the same from the outside and will lead to the same extraordinary things. 

I’d love to hear about the times you’ve pushed past your edges and done something brave. We’ve all done it and we’ve all got it in us to do more. You just never know who you’ll be inspiring. 

Now, go be awesome. You’ve got a cheer squad here no matter what.

(Image Credit: Unsplash | Morgan Sessions)

 

 

2 Comments

The Journey of Peace and Happiness

This is a wonderful article. Thank you so much for all the knowledge you bring. My challenges with Mental Illness and Emotional Abuse have caused fear in my life to disclose anything. Starting my blog and uncovering what has been unspeakable has been freeing. Yes, this was fearful but I took the leap and I’m learning and growing. Your blog is so inspiring, and helpful in many areas. Looking forward to more.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. I’m so pleased you’re writing. It sounds as though you have been through a lot and you will have amazing wisdom and insight. You’ll never know who you’ll be inspiring, but I’m sure it will be many.

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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