We are wired to survive. Our brains and bodies are designed to prioritize staying alive over all else. In situations of danger all our resources are mobilized to fight or flee. No conscious choice is necessary. Automatic processes kick into gear and we lift the Volkswagen off that small child, or we jump out of the way of the oncoming rollerblader, with force and agility that would qualify us for a spot at the 2012 London Olympics.
Growth is also wired into us. Deep inside each of us is a calling to become the most powerful expression of who we are meant to be. Our authentic, resilient, connected real self is awaiting manifestation. But the voice of growth is quieter than the shrill shout of survival, and we must make a conscious choice. We need to be present.
In the busy, stressed demand of our daily lives we must make the choice to come home to the body and feel. We need to approach ourselves, especially in the discomfort of our human limitations, in order to maximize our growth. We need to bring the light of our reflective awareness to the felt experience ourselves as vulnerable.
Being vulnerable does not mean being in danger, although the feeling in the body of vulnerability often does feel like danger. The tight muscles and agitated energy of uncertainty and loss and waiting and longing and not yet having and not knowing… All these sensations seem to say to us that we should avoid something, especially ourselves. We have the impulse to do something to stop these feelings: we delude ourselves that we have more control than we do, and we shame ourselves for not somehow getting this thing in hand; we numb ourselves with food and alcohol and drugs and television; and we distract ourselves with work and shopping and other busy-ness.
Yet the feelings of vulnerability are the doorway to our growth. If we can see our discomfort as a path to growth we can make the growth choice.
The growth choice is to approach ourselves in the moment in the felt sense in the body, and stay there with warm interest and nonjudgement. Despite the automatic urge to avoid, we need to consciously do the opposite and choose to approach.
Avoidance numbs or hides discomfort. Approach actually permits the feelings to be metabolized and used to help us grow. Our presence does more than just mask the bad feelings, it actually connects us to the kind of life we want to live: free, rich, big. Presence is itself the reward. And when we choose to be present in the face of our vulnerability, we make the choice to grow.
I invite you to notice your opportunities to make the growth choice. Any time you feel the bracing of your muscles against some feeling of your human limits you are being invited to become more of who you can be. Feel the natural urge to avoid yourself and make the brave choice to approach. Come home to the body. And grow. You are so worth it.
Photo Credit: DB