If I were to add my word to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, it would be un-conditioning.
How would I define it?
un-conditioning – verb | un con di tion ing |
: the act or process of un-training, removing, or forgetting all the rules that were prescribed and picked up in order to meet other’s expectations, to fulfill a job description in a corporate environment, to be acceptable to others and definitely not objectionable, and to fall in line with social norms that have long since been broken open.
If I remember correctly I was hiking Runyon Canyon with a girlfriend when I blurted out that I was in a process of un-conditioning. It had recently occurred to me that the only thing getting in the way of creating the life I wanted to experience was myself. Although that platitude seemed so simple, I started to ask myself what was really my problem. Why was I getting in my own way? I writhed in that inquiry, beat myself up with various judgments and internal rants, and then it occurred to me. I don’t really know how to be fully Me, and I certainly don’t feel totally comfortable and safe being fully Me.
Of course in life there are risks and we don’t always get to feel comfortable and safe. And the coaching world I have been immersed in for a few years now, pushes us to stop waiting and searching for the right moment or when we think everything is figured out. That will just leave you waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I took some big action steps, invested a lot of funds, joined powerful groups, read voraciously and yet I was still not really moving the needle on what I truly wanted to create. I was stumped and in so much pain – actually feeling a lot of shame at this seeming inability to “make” it happen. In my prior life there wasn’t much I wasn’t able to “make” happen.
This life was different. I was different.
Through various conversations with a few insightful coaches, my dear and wise Mother, and brilliant and patient girlfriends, it finally occurred to me that I was trapped in the world of all my rules. Some of them I certainly created and many of them offered to me by the world I (we) live in. I bought in and used so many of these rules to keep myself safe, and acceptable, or so I thought.
As long as I can remember I felt like I was on the outside. There was some wise inner knowing even as a young girl that I had a track on life that many weren’t listening to, and I was still a young girl that wanted to be liked, to be me, but more so, to be liked, to be somebody’s best friend.
That tender desire that I know so many of us go through in some way or another continued on unconsciously into my young adulthood and became a mainstay and a reliable tool for my successful career.
I was also an achiever. I love to learn and I am an experiential learner so my drive to contribute and add value was tremendous. It supported me in being promoted many times and it also became the way I validated my own worthiness and reason for being.
The irony is that I did piss some people off in my various positions. The passion I innately possess to learn, to build and to contribute sometimes resulted in my intentions being misunderstood. I could be hypercritical and I held really high expectations. This applied to me first, and that level of pressure that I was always holding over myself, was like the proverbial hamster wheel. There was no getting off the wheel unless I changed the way I saw and valued my life and myself.
It’s taken me a few years to really see all of this and to create peace with it. In 2011, I physically removed myself from the construct I was living in for so long and yet it still lived inside me. I didn’t know this until I did. That’s how life is.
We run patterns until they become illuminated and we are all on our own journey. There is no guidebook on how to be you and do your life. You just have to show up and pay attention. That second part is key. You have to pay attention. Although it was liberating to have this awareness of how I was inhibiting my own path with all these rules I was stuck in, I still have to pay attention. Just because I have identified this way of being doesn’t mean, POOF it goes away. I have to work it, stay awake and apply a lot of compassion.
So this journey I am on right now is about un-conditioning, a letting go of old rules that don’t apply and more importantly, rules that really don’t serve me anymore. Will I make some mistakes and or do or share some things I maybe regret later? I might, and it’s part of the process.