When I was in my early 20s, I was walking down the street one day when an interesting idea came to me. I’d been contemplating self evolution (as usual) and had the realization that each of us has 3 components to our beings:
The physical, the intellectual and the emotional (now I would add a 4th- spiritual).
Of these three aspects of self, we all have an affinity toward one as the area in which we feel most comfortable. So, for example, an athlete who works out daily and relishes in his routine is clearly most at ease in the physical realm.
I, on the other hand, am most relaxed in the emotional realm and love to talk about how I feel, to understand what I’m sensing and process that. Lots of people prefer the intellectual realm – those who love ideas and enjoy analysis and debate.
We all have one area of preference, then a secondary one in which we are also at ease or, at the very least, neutral and then one that we may try to avoid because it feels so incredibly uncomfortable.
For me, my painful realm is the physical.
And at 24 or so, when I had this realization, I was struggling with my weight and hating my figure. My body was the enemy, why would I even want to be in it? It was fat, bloated, uncomfortable, embarrassing. I tended to just ignore it.
After I started thinking about these three aspects of self, I realized that in order to be balanced, I had to move into the area of discomfort- for that is where the opportunity for growth lies- AND in doing that we heal ourselves.
You can imagine that I did this kicking and screaming.
The last thing I wanted was to be in my body, to make it real and feel it. But I did.
Perhaps because I was willing to do this it helped me let go of my eating disorder, I don’t know. But what I do know is that being in my body changed me.
It’s kind of a funny thing. All the time I thought it would be scary and painful but once I made the commitment to do it, (it was a gradual process) my life indeed became more balanced.
I was able to actualize ideas and thoughts rather than just have them spin around and around in my head.
Being in my body grounded me and allowed me to be even more present.
Twenty years later I’m definitely more balanced and have worked hard over that time to be in my body, do physical exercise and engage on a physical level.
I still work at it. My mind plays tricks on me and the wall of resistance is there. I’ve just gotten better at not listening to it and doing it anyway.
Here’s a great example. In my early 20s, I wanted to exercise to help me lose weight but I mostly didn’t. I thought about it all the time but just never actualized it. One day my father said to me, “you’d already be done with your run if you’d just gone and done it instead of constantly thinking about it.”
But that’s where I was then. Now, I just go and do it. I still don’t relish it, I still have to force myself BUT exercise helps me be in my body. I feel so much better emotionally too when I exercise (who would’ve thought!)
Think about yourself. What is your primary and secondary area of strength and which one is your challenge area?
What is the one you avoid out of fear or old beliefs? Maybe you hear stories in your head like, “I’m not smart” or “I’m a bad student.” Maybe it’s “People always tell me I’m cold or heartless.” Or perhaps it’s “Hike that hill? No way, I’m terrible at physical exercise.”
Here’s an email message I got the other day that inspired this blog:
One way to work on yourself is by being present in the body. Another way is by expanding the heart. A third way is by quieting the mind. The wise person finds a way to work on all three at the same time. (Understanding the Enneagram, 327)
Isn’t that what I was just saying?
Identifying your area of strength and also what to work on can help you better understand yourself. Moving into the discomfort even though it feels scary at first, is so rewarding and ultimately incredibly balancing. As you brave it, you’ll find yourself feeling even more like you!