I wrote this ominous sounding line two posts back:
You may fear your aliveness because you fear yourself, fear that in connecting with your passion you'll come face to face with an unsettling personality you only suspect lives there.
Feels disturbing doesn’t it, being afraid of yourself, or some aspect of yourself. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you looked in the mirror, and thought, “Ew, scary.”
But just because you’re not exclaiming loudly doesn’t mean you’re not in fact on the run and hiding, hiding parts of yourself you don’t feel good about, or in some cases, even parts you imagine others don’t feel good about.
We all do it to varying degrees. And the degree to which we do it, is the degree to which our aliveness suffers.
Your Flat Zones
I call them flat zones, the places where the disowned parts of ourselves live, parts we’d rather not claim and in fact leave hanging.
These areas are flat because we’ve withdrawn energy from them. It’s even possible to cut the switch on whole regions of ourselves in an effort to avoid what lives there.
You can tell a flat zone because it’s an area where the signal goes dead, usually brought about by some kind of constriction.
For instance, maybe you love, love, love your best friend because of their great energy or kindness or humor. But maybe you also notice there are times or situations where they just don’t function the same way. They go all flat on you: or heavy, or worried, or silent or distant, or confusing or what-have-you.
What you’re experiencing at those times is their flat zone, and it’s flat because something there is being protected through some strategy of avoidance.
And while the constrictions or flat zones may be easier to see in others, guess who also uses the same strategies if to different degrees? True, it can be scary to consider facing distanced parts of yourself, but it’s your sense of aliveness that hangs in the balance.
The good news is that flat zones don’t have to stay that way. Disowned parts can be reclaimed, making the unique, sometimes dynamic qualities they possess available to you once again.
Re-invigorating your flat zones
1. The easiest, most powerful thing you can do to start feeding energy back into any flat zone is to light it up by paying attention to it. That’s right, paying attention directs mental, physical and emotional energy to what’s being looked at. This not only starts the reawakening process, it also allows you to see to the core of things more clearly. And clarity is good, because years of inattention can wreak havoc with your memories, often distorting what was originally there.
2. Once lit up, take a good look around. Lighting up a previously unused area will make you feel things, physically and emotionally. Try to stay with the physical and emotional experience. And because it’s likely to be uncomfortable, only stay with it a few seconds at first. Each subsequent time you pay attention to some disowned part or experience, try to lengthen how long you stay with it. But only by seconds.
3. Lastly, once you’ve seen and experienced what’s there, step away. Really step away. Don’t continue to think about the experience until the next time you intentionally decide to pay attention. Use movement, distraction, absorption (in something else) or re-grounding exercises to help move you out if you get stuck.
The trick with facing any fear is to at first do it lightly and quickly. With time you should be able to expand how long and how deeply you engage.
Keep at it. Second by second. In time you’ll find that what once had you turning away in fear is now the source of greater understanding, richness and depth.
You may discover that the parts of yourself you feared in fact held great promise, revolved around a strength of character or ability your early environment was too weak to hold. You may in fact uncover some of the best parts of yourself.
The journey to aliveness is at core a journey to who you truly are. It’s not without its challenge, but in times of struggle remember it can be done, and that a most important someone awaits you on the other side! (Caveat: Some of us have experienced very challenging life circumstances. In this case, facing fears may require the help of a trained professional.)
As always, I love connecting with all of you in the comment thread below, hearing your experiences and sharing strengths and insights. What fears have you recently embraced, and how did paying attention and staying with them help get you to the other side? Any other strategies you can share?
Let us know.