Today’s guest author is a dear friend of mine who crossed my path when we shared a common “day job” a few years ago. She’s here to talk to us about how we let ourself get in the way of ourself.
Without further ado…Ms. Athena WiseNRich…
Are you a rigid thinker? Do many of your responses start with, “No…”? Do you hear yourself begin a sentence with, “I/we can’t…” or “I/we don’t…”? Does your mind skitter away from thoughts of change? Are you certain there’s nothing better for you than what you’ve got right now? Ah…it’s possible you may be a rigid thinker.
How can I possibly say that? Let me introduce myself: Athena WiseNrich, recovering Rigid Thinker.
For many years I heard the voices of others, real and imagined, in my head; “No…,” “You can’t…,” “You don’t…” Then those voices became MY voice: “No…,” “I can’t…,” “I don’t…,” and I was a believer. No matter what anyone said, did, wrote, or sung to me, I wouldn’t/couldn’t change my thinking and everything — EVERYTHING — I saw supported that negative thinking. I remember idly following a thought that started with, “What if…,” chugged past “I can’t even…,” and arrived at the junction of, “What’s the point?” and “It just doesn’t matter.” My rigid thinking had become rigor mortis. I was alive, yet dead.
I could have continued to exist at that crossroads; I know many people who have taken up residence there. I remember living in a house with a crooked staircase and asking someone to come up with a plan to fix it; their response was rigid: “No. You’ll get used to it.” I’ve spun in the family circle of folks who believe they have no power in their lives and I’ve watched their dispositions sour by the year. I’ve seen friends, acquaintances and strangers stand in the middle of a stream and refuse to move, no matter how fast the current or how high the water, simply because they couldn’t see another/better option. What I couldn’t see is how I could live like that.
I decided I had to change. If I wanted to bounce out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face that remained there all day, I’d need to adjust the way I felt about my reality. I wanted freedom, fun, laughter, warmth and intimacy. I didn’t want bondage to someone or something and I certainly didn’t want anger, depression or suppression. Living with a crooked staircase was no longer an option.
How could I do that? For me, it started with an agreement with my inner being: do the work. Delve deep into murky corners and painful memories and hear — really hear — what I believed to be true. And identify the original voice of that belief. It’s not always easy to comply.
Human beings repress thoughts and memories for a reason; sometimes it’s survival, sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes it’s denial. Murky corners are scary things; what’s the point of shedding light on things said or done so many years ago? At first I thought I could gloss over memories, like brushing a coat of primer over a water-stained ceiling before painting it the color of my choice. I quickly recognized that, unfortunately, if I don’t fix the leak in the roof, the stain returns with the next rain — and it may be bigger.
Well then, second step: meditation and journaling, counseling and conversation with professionals. Through years of practice and open communication with others, I’ve learned who I really am, what I’m willing to stand for (inner strength vs. rigid thinking) and what I need to change. I learned (and this was VERY important) to make MYSELF happy. I learned I have no control over the happiness of anyone else; I can only control my own. I learned I can choose my beliefs, take responsibility for my actions, disassociate from the deeds of others and stand alone without rigidity. I learned to plan my own journey, avoiding swamps and pitfalls by recognizing the terrain. And I learned the difference between what is “My Sht” and what is “Not my Sht.”
Over the years, I’ve “loosened up.” I strive to accept humans for the divine and perfect beings we are. (Yes, I did say perfect. There’s only one of you, so how can you be less than perfect?) Every opinion someone expresses to me is feedback, not criticism or direction. I get to choose how I feel about it and whether I embrace or reject it.
What do I do now when I encounter rigid thinking? How do I react when someone takes a stand for “being right” and defends it with every breath they take? Eh. I let them. After all, their opinion is just “Not my Sh*t.”
Want to read more from Athena? You can pick up a copy of her books Sitara: Legend Of The Morning Star, Guide to Affinitive Readings, Elemental Creativity, The Blade and the Broken Heart, and Zaftig Goddess Wisdom.
You can also follow her for more get out of your own way wisdom: