What do I mean by “box?” I mean the internal box. The box that says, “No, don’t say what you’ll mean or you’ll hurt her/him.” The box that says, “Don’t scream right now, it’s not appropriate.” The box that says, “Don’t draw, cause you’re not an artist.” Or the box that says, “You don’t know how to dance, don’t even try.”
And you stay in this box year after year, because coming out of this box would mean people would really “see” you. They would really see what you feel, see what you care about, see what matters to you, see your vulnerability. And this is SCARY. Because we believe we’ll be judged harshly for it. We’ll be attacked for being “real.”
I use to live in a box. It actually had an iron gate on the front and I had thrown away the key. It was my heart. I was not going to let anyone hurt it again. Period. So I numbed it, I ran, I climbed mountains to avoid the pain that was lurking behind the gate. I believed if I just kept that gate locked life would be easy, no pain equaled no pain!
And I let others only see a small part of me. The part that I thought they wanted to see. The one that was strong, smart, and independent. The part that was “safe” for them to see. Keep the gate locked, and no pain – how convenient.
But what I didn’t realize is that when I numbed my pain and closed the gate to my pain and my true self, I numbed and closed the gate to my happiness and joy too. They go hand in hand. You can’t numb pain without numbing happiness. You can’t close yourself off and be “safe” without compromising true connection with others and joy within yourself.
When that gate of mine was cracked open 10 years ago on the floor in the midst of a panic attack, the pain was incredible. And in that moment my life changed. I couldn’t go back to that “safe” place anymore. The gate could not stay closed any longer.
When we first experience true freedom outside of the box of our safe place, the beliefs telling us to “keep it all together, don’t show them what you really feel or think,” we experience an incredible lightness inside, a joy that can’t be explained. It’s almost like a drug, and then the fear comes flooding back in. But something is stirred, and we can’t totally go back to that safe place anymore. We get pulled in an unknown direction for more of that freedom, more of that joy.
How do you cultivate it? How do you climb out of that box that you’ve put yourself in to remain safe, and begin to explore what truly wants to come out of you in action and speech, in heart and in spirit? To experience true freedom. I recommend this (and the willingness to do it!):
- Take time for yourself at least five minutes a day doing something that nurtures you. Silence is excellent.
- Seek out what makes you passionate and do it. Maybe it’s drumming, dance, pottery, woodworking, playing an instrument, art, singing in the shower, anything that lights your fire inside.
- Tell someone this week something painful that happened in your life. Express yourself in a new way.
- Tell a good friend or partner what you love about them and why. Express your gratitude.
- Find a teacher or mentor to help you stretch your box, and/or attend an event or gathering with other people where you are encouraged to stretch your box of comfort. You will begin see life in a new way.
Ask yourself what size box you may be living in, and what it’s costing you in your life. How much do you want to get out of that box, and why? And what action will you take today to stretch your box to a new (and bigger) size? You can experience true freedom too!
Categories: Heart Centered Living