“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”Byron Katie
When I wrote Self-Fidelity the most challenging element of the practice to describe was Waking Up. I did a great deal of reflecting, researching, writing and rewriting to both understand and explain what it means to ‘wake up’. The feedback I am now getting from my readers (AKA fellow ‘self-fidelity pioneers’) has made all that tricky work worthwhile.
One reader recently shared that the practice of self-fidelity is giving them “a new, refreshing viewpoint to work from”. Another shared that the practice is helping them to turn down the volume “on those thoughts in my head that tell me that I’m not good enough”.
Now that the three-year-long process of writing Self-Fidelity is behind me, I am able to do more of the work that really makes my heart sing – coaching people to develop and commit to their very own self-fidelity practice. The more coaching I do, the more deeply I understand what it really means to wake up.
Waking up up is about becoming aware of the thinking that is shaping our perception of the world around us and remembering that we can choose alternative ways of thinking.
Every moment of every day, our thoughts (our beliefs, assumptions, judgements, biases and prejudices) shape the way we experience life. Our thinking acts like a kind of lens that colors the way we perceive the world around us, shaping the way we show up in the world.
When we automatically believe our own thoughts we are on auto-pilot. When we are on auto-pilot we are oblivious to the lenses we are looking through and the way those lenses are shaping our perception. By learning how to wake up, we learn how to become aware of our thinking (our lenses) and from this place of awareness we can become skilled at reframing our own thinking – and freeing ourselves from unnecessary suffering.
Allow me explain it another way.
Remember those flip-up sunglasses from the 80’s? Well imagine that every morning when you wake up, you put on a pair of those flip-up sunglasses and wear them all day long. The flip-lenses are dark and scratched so they distort and dull the way you are perceiving the world around you. The challenge is that the sunglasses are completely invisible – so it is really easy to forget that you are wearing them. But when you suddenly remember that you are wearing them, you also remember that you can flip up the lenses . And when you flip the lenses, suddenly the world around you feel much lighter and brighter.
Waking up is about becoming aware of the lenses that are shaping our perception of the world around us – and remembering that in any moment we can flip the lens.
When we forget that that we can flip the lens, we can experience hurt, sadness, loneliness, fear, resentment and overwhelm. The great irony is that our suffering is usually an inside job.
Here are are some of the lenses that often cause suffering for my coaching clients:
- I don’t really deserve this
- I know I will just fu*k it up, so I am better off not trying
- I am deeply flawed and I have to make sure no-one finds out
- I need to go it alone
- I have no idea what I am doing
- I need to have all the answers
- I must stay in control
- I have no value – my value exists only in what I do and what I have
To share a few personal examples, here are three lenses that have created tremendous amounts of suffering in my own life – before I remembered that I had the power to flip them. The common thread lurking behind all three lenses? The belief that I was not worthy.
LENS: I have made my bed, so I have to lie in in
HOW THIS LENS CREATED SUFFERING FOR ME: It kept me stuck in a violent relationship.
WHAT BECAME CLEAR ONCE I FLIPPED THE LENS: No-one deserves to live in fear – and I am someone.
LENS: My boss should acknowledge me more
HOW THIS LENS CREATED SUFFERING FOR ME: It created feelings of frustration and resentment.
WHAT BECAME CLEAR ONCE I FLIPPED THE LENS: There was lots of really valuable things I could learn from my boss and lots more growth available to me in the role I was in – but only if I could accept the reality that my boss was never going to acknowledge me.
LENS: My partner should ask me about how my day was when I get home at night
HOW THIS LENS CREATED SUFFERING FOR ME: It created feelings of sadness, loneliness and resentment
WHAT BECAME CLEAR ONCE I FLIPPED THE LENS: I don’t want to keep relying on external validation to feel like I matter. I can learn to appreciate my own value, and the difference that I make in the world every day. I can choose to generously share the details of my day with those I care about with no expectations.
Remembering to Wake Up is the threshold of a self-fidelity practice. Crossing this threshold and waking up is not a one-time-thing. It is a life-long moment-to-moment practice of remembrance and reconnection. We must, over and over, remember that we are not our thoughts and reconnect to the truth of we who really are.
Once across the threshold, the practices of Letting Be, Letting Go and Letting In can begin to lift us up. These four elements of our self-fidelity practice come together to offer us a life-long learning loop that restores our faith in our enough-ness.
Self-fidelity Practice To Play With This Week
The small (yet mighty) self-fidelity practice I invite you to play with this week is to ask yourself the following question, get quiet and listen deeply to sense a response:
What new possibilities might emerge for me if I could remember more often that I have the power to reframe my thinking?
We get lost in the weather of our minds.
Yet above the thick cloud, clear sky always awaits.
We get pushed around by constant winds.
Yet we can all learn how to find shelter.
We are held down by an invisible heaviness.
Yet we can gently let go of this burden.
We all contain a powerful lifeforce.
And by learning how to feed it, we are buoyed.
Remembering the truth of who we are, we lift.Cassandra Goodman
Curious to learn more?
Would you like some support to play with the practice of waking up?
I am taking applications for my next RESTORE group coaching program starting in April 2021. Limited places available Reach out to learn more firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live in Melbourne I am running a live 2 hour self-fidelity workshop on March 13th, learn more here.
Or you can register for my next FREE online Self-Fidelity Workshop.