Learning to lovingly, patiently and compassionately witness the old patterns we are repeating when we are not yet able to change them.
In the "feeling stuck" times: when it's no longer possible to be as you were
and not yet possible to be as you will be…
Berating and badgering your self only make the between-time more trying.
Remember to ease up, be patient and tender with your self,
rest and trust that, deep within, the new growth is germinating!
The next step always unfolds when you're fully ready for it!
So often along the journey of my unfolding, I've come to a place where I could actually see/recognize an old self-defeating pattern at the very instant that it was playing through me. Newly able to watch my self doing something that, not long ago, would have gone by without any conscious notice, I'd be aware that it was leading me somewhere that was no longer acceptable to me. Yet, despite this awareness, I'd be unable to stop or change the behavior.
It was excruciatingly painful knowing that I needed to not be doing this to my self again while feeling powerless to interrupt the behavior. For many years, these were occasions for having at my self: berating, criticizing and generally beating up on my self. "How can you be so dense, stupid, slow, screwed-up, perverse?!" and "What is wrong with you?!" were the sort of nastiness that I'd hurl at my self.
Already in pain, the relentless litany of my inner-critic (the Hatchet Lady) would further flay me. Yet, no matter how brutally she or I treated my self, it would never move me forward any faster. I would feel stuck, furious with my self for knowing what needed to change and yet being unable to change it.
As I've worked with my self and with others over the years, I've watched this cycle repeatedly recur along the way of everyone's journey. Gradually, I've learned to hold these times more spaciously, to hold my self and others caught this way with more gentle generosity. These feeling stuck places are actually times of growing and transitioning, even though that process may be invisible to us or to any outside observer.
We need, in these difficult and painful times, to lovingly remind our selves that being able to witness our patterns unfolding is in itself a significant accomplishment. As we witness, we become more than just the part of our selves playing out the pattern. We are both that self and a larger, watching self: the witness. As we continue repeating the old patterns with the witness self present and watching, we are able to gather more and more understanding of the steps in the old dance. We begin to see what the triggers and conventions are. We become more and more separate from the energy field of that dance. It is not the same-old, same-old when we are conscious, awake and watching. It becomes more like research, like cultural anthropology.
The more tender and generous we can be with our selves, the less critical and judgmental, the more we will be able to see and learn in our researches. We cannot, by any pressuring or goading, hasten the moment of the birth of the next step, of the next who that we are becoming. It always emerges just exactly when we're fully ready for it. Yet, how we are with our selves during the between-time, the period of transition to that moment, is something about which we do have options and choice.
When we allow the natural world to be our teacher and guide, we understand that growth is not always visible: unfoldings and blossomings have their own seasons. We remember that when things are the bleakest and most barren above ground, there is a gathering of energy proceeding, slowly, deep underground.
Using this frame of reference instead of the more-bigger-faster-yesterday yardstick of the ambient culture, we can choose to be gentle and patient with our selves. We can let our selves rest in the trust that the new growth is germinating even as we do our researches.
Consider the practice of being patient and generous with your self in the feeling stuck times.