Let me expand on that. You don't need a therapist to heal or change, but they sure do help. And in some cases therapy will absolutely be recommended and necessary. What I am meaning to say here is, there are actions you can take to start uncovering the source of certain struggles, discomfort or pain without this assistance. Once uncovered you can begin the work of letting it go. Yes. This is scary but it is worth every uncomfortable moment and every bit of sweat and tears. I have found ways that help me through this process and I'd like to share what I have found when it comes to self exploration.
Now, you may be asking how this is fitness related and why is a personal trainer and yoga instructor giving advice about therapy and self exploration? Because most of the reasons why we fail at stick to health and wellness goals, to change habits, or to find ways out of situations we don't enjoy, is because we aren't asking ourselves enough questions. Why is it that when shit gets scary we go back to what feels cozy and comfortable, to what is easy? It was when easy no longer worked for me, that I started asking myself real questions.
Before I dive in, make sure you know that this process is 100% normal. It is required work for every human that wishes to finally start living life the way they were intended, feeling happy and inspired simply by living out their life. Happiness is the reward of self exploration. This process isn't light or easy so start here with a serious self love practice and then build into asking questions. Self love is the pace car of self exploration.
Don't jump in head first. Pick one question and focus on it for a few weeks. More than likely it will uncover some shit and you will have to regroup with self love. Attempt this in tiny digestible pieces and take breaks when you need.
Last but not least, if you come across uncomfortable things don't panic, take some deep breaths and return to love. You are doing this work to set yourself free, but you have to take the steps through the uncomfortable and downright slippery terrain. If you hit something that you cannot get through on your own, find a therapist that you feel comfortable with and be open to exploring with a professional. You wouldn't wander in to the jungle without a guide would you? My mind can feel like a jungle sometimes so I consult a therapist when I hit something that feels bigger than simply journaling or best-friend-talk.
Some questions to start the process:
- How does my physical body feel?
- How happy am I?
- How well can I focus on something?
- Why am I doing this? What is the motive?
- What's my purpose?
- Is my food giving me energy?
- Am I able to handle my stress?
- In what ways do I handle my stress?
- Am I socializing?
- How does my social circle make me feel? Inspired? Drained?
- How does social media make me feel?
- What is draining my energy?
- What gives me energy?
- What could I do all day?
- What fills me with joy?
- How do I feel about my body?
- How can I add more love to my life and relationships?
- What can I do differently?
- Am I adding value to my relationships?
For me, I like to pick a question and then either meditate for a moment or go for a walk with this question on my mind in a gentle, I'm gonna take my time kinda way. Not in a fearful or stressful kinda way. I remind myself that this is a process and one that has yet to let me down.
A lot of times I will get new questions from books or podcasts, sometimes from conversations with friends and mentors, however, the question that I usually jump to is "Am I acting from a place of love or a place of fear?" Oh, man... when I first noticed how much I let fear run my life it was a scary moment, like a panic attack turned depression moment that lasted days. I felt like I had wasted so much time and squandered so many relationships because of fear. But I returned to love with some bubble baths and some reminders about why I was doing the work. Understanding that this work was coming from a place of love I was able to endure the discomfort.
Start thinking and journaling about your question. Then take breaks from thinking about it and do other things that help you think clear, like exercising outside, art, dancing or watching something inspiring. Don't force it but don't avoid it. Find a happy place in between that allows you to uncover a little scary bit at a time. Again, if a giant can of worms is uncovered, take some deep breaths and consult a family member, trusting friend or therapist. This does not make you weak as this will actually allow yourself to let go of the source of your weakness, making you so much stronger!!
There must be a curiosity about why things aren't working. Troubles do not simply disappear. When they seem as if they have, there is a good chance they are just waiting under the surface, subconsciously affecting decisions and relationships . Sometimes you find things you never knew were there and it all starts to make sense. You gain an understanding for why you avoid group exercise, for why you eat too much at each meal, for why you place everyone's needs in front of yours. Understanding this why brings you to a place where change can happen. Start with some gentle loving questions and you will start to find the answers. These answers will allow those old habits to fall away and you will build new loving ones in their place and this will become you're new normal.