Ingrid Clayton Ph.D.

Emotional Sobriety

So, I was Levitating the Other Day ...

What we resist, persists.

Posted Aug 14, 2011

Ok, so I wasn't actually levitating. I was probably doing something more like procrastinating or ruminating, something much less fabulous than levitating. I was probably wishing that I was levitating, or at the very least, looking like I was levitating. But I wasn't. And I'm not. The cat's out of the bag.

Do you ever wish you could rise above it all? And then stay there, hovering, with a big grin on your face? I admit, it all sounds a little ridiculous, but I know I'm not the only one who has been looking for the golden ticket that allows us to rise above. I also admit that I haven't found it. Well, not the sort of golden ticket I've been looking for anyway.

I think the closest thing to finding the golden ticket can happen when we stop trying to find it. I don't mean to give up on life, or to become a couch potato. I mean that striving for "operation levitation" can confuse us into thinking that we are supposed to get somewhere, that we are supposed to rise above it all. And this can rob us of the present moment.

What's so great about the present moment and how on earth is that the golden ticket? I'm glad you asked. 

In my experience, there is something very necessary about being who and where you are. I understand that this is a tall order. If I become present to who I am, all of me, there is a lot there that I usually don't want to see. For most people this consists of shame, anxiety, anger, worry, loneliness, self-loathing, our "dark" side, and the list goes on.

Come on, who really wants to be present to all of that? But the more that I have tried to rise above it, or turn my back to it—the more it has lingered there, waiting, almost growing in size. So finally, I had to turn around and face it. And the most amazing thing happened (and continues to happen). It didn't swallow me whole like I thought it would. In fact, by recognizing the "dark" stuff that was there, I could finally experience and own what was "light." I could really believe the good stuff once I took responsibility for the stuff that didn't look quite as shiny on the outside. 

Freedom!

In essence, it's all about integrating the many parts of our selves. There are parts of us that are motivated and other parts that are lazy. None of these individual parts represent the whole any more than one feeling might. So, we need to make peace with each and every facet. One way of getting to know the many parts of yourself, and to begin folding them in, is to introduce them to one another. You might try a journaling exercise that I recommend to my clients:

Create a dialogue between the part of you who wants to levitate and the part who wants to sit in bed and eat M&Ms. Chances are, they will have a lot to say to one another, and can probably teach each other a thing or two! For example:

Spiritual Sue: "I don't understand why you want to sit there and eat all day? We are much more evolved than that! What if someone saw you right now? Wouldn't you feel ashamed of yourself?"

Comfort Cathy: "I'm just so tired. You run me ragged trying to feel enlightened and sometimes, I just need to crash! When do we ever get a break?"

Spiritual Sue: "You've got a point. I know that we can't keep going at this pace. I just wish that the downtime didn't involve anesthetization."

Comfort Cathy: "What do you suggest?"

Spiritual Sue: "Well, what would make you feel like you were really getting a break; something that didn't involve self-sabotage?"

Comfort Cathy: "I want a whole day off. I need to have some fun and laugh! You take everything so seriously and sometimes I just need to goof off!"

Spiritual Sue: "I can see the value in that. Ok, let's do it. This Sunday we won't do one constructive thing that makes me feel like we're 'going somewhere.' I'm actually getting excited about the idea of letting my hair down!"

In the end, both Sue and Cathy want what's best for you. They just have different ways of going about it. That's why integration can be so useful. We gain more internal resources, we feel less fragmented, and we become more whole.

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and author of Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice.

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Copyright by Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D., 2011. All rights reserved. Any excerpts reproduced from this article should include links to the original on Psychology Today.