Did you know that we are creatures of habits? Did you know most of us are living a habitual life deeply rooted in the same circuitry of thoughts? How many of us are simply treading the same path day in and day out, creating deep ruts of sameness? We become hamsters on the hamster wheel, running as fast as we can in our own little custom-built, beautifully designed cages.
Our habits can become a form of abuse. Take for example the scenario of having a ‘tough’ day – you know one of those first world tough days that really (REALLY?) are not that tough. But in our minds they were because someone in the office sent us an email that we read as being abrupt or another person did not attend a meeting that we spent weeks preparing for and needed them to be at. So what do we do after we have stewed on our disappointment while on the bus, train or in the car all the way to the front door? We walk in and say, someone get me a glass of whine!
No that is not a spelling error. I wrote ‘whine’, not wine. Rather than taking time to sit with ourselves in meditation, reflection or in eye-to-eye conversation with a trusted other to consider why we felt slighted, we pour an elixir down our gob to help us relax. Typically, we relax into whining about the incident, adding layers of emotional descriptors to it and cementing it so firmly in our brains that the next morning when we see the ‘perpetrator’, we act poorly. And the energy we emit travels out from us to them and as they do not know the reason behind our coldness but they can feel it, they step around us, adding to our perception that they don’t like us or have it in for us. Sound familiar?
What we are establishing in these scenarios are two failures of authenticity.
One, we are not being our authentic selves. We are not being authentic with ourselves in listening to the niggle inside of us and giving ourselves the grace of time and quiet to understand what our subconscious mind is trying to communicate. Instead, our emotions which are the layers of our reactions to similar past events, obscure our clarity and rationality. This happened to us before so we need to be on guard of not letting it happen again because we don’t want to feel THOSE emotions again. Or we shove the feelings down deep smothering them with alcohol, food, or some other thing that ‘comforts’ us. Then we toddle off to bed falsely thinking we have subdued the pain. But we haven’t.
The second thing we are doing is not being authentic to others. This is fertile ground for misunderstanding, the first step in conflict. How many times in our lives have we been in a perceived conflict only to find out later that when we were made to discuss the matter with the other party, they hadn’t meant anything that we thought they had! But what resulted was that we withdrew and they, coming from their own emotional complexity, read our withdrawal as rejection and blah, blah, blah. Or should I write wallah – we are in a ‘conflict’ because we were not authentic in simply checking in with each other, saying something like, ‘Hey, when we spoke the other day, I felt uncomfortable with the outcome. I really value our relationship and I want to check in with you.’
Authenticity with ourselves and others is about respect.
When we respect ourselves and our spiritual journey, we take time to nourish ourselves and listen deeply to the feelings of unease. We devote ourselves to releasing the uneasiness so that it does not become toxic in our own bodies as disease. This means we let go of the negative thoughts through exercise, meditation and journalling. We recognise that emotions are simply echos of the past and that if we constantly live in our raw emotions, the unprocessed and unconsidered ones, without knowing why we are feeling them, we are the hamster. The scary bit is we can go from whining to too many glasses of wine, to abusing ourselves and others and then addiction. All because we did not respect ourselves enough to give ourselves our focus, our forgiveness, our love.
When we think so many negative thoughts about a person or group of people, we are not respecting ourselves or them. When we truly respect ourselves, we do not allow negative thoughts to take root and grow. When we can see beyond a negative thought and ask why people are being a certain way, our curiosity opens up possibilities for understanding. We may not agree with others but because we understand their point of view, we can respect them though differ. Then we can choose consciously who we want to be with and experience life with. We can find our tribe. If however, the tribe we have found, the one we chose to be with, is founded on negative interchanges – hand me another bottle of whine – then we may need to ask ourselves how we are respecting ourselves.
How do I know about hamster wheels? Because I have been a hamster for far too much of my adult life. Yes, hamsters can be cute, furry and adorable to watch as they race their little hearts out on a brightly coloured plastic wheel. And because they run so hard and are so dedicated to keeping the wheel turning, people actually admire them. But what was fueling my hamster existence was negative thoughts that came from a place of fear. If you really look a hamster in the eyes, you will see a lot of anxiety.
I stayed on that wheel because others thought I was making progress and lauded my speed and persistence. But I have crawled off the wheel. I was finally able to get off when my meditation teacher posted a recommendation to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I then found a post that I shared that said for every negative thought, purposefully think three positive ones. You know what? It was impossible to stay on the hamster wheel when I stopped and thought three positive thoughts to replace every negative one that put me on that wheel to start with.
With a little research (got to love Google Images), I found these guys who built the iWheel, named because it was built with Apple Mac boxes. It’s a human hamster wheel with a difference. I have embraced it because in my mind, I can go places in it. I now propel mine with positive energy that moves me forward, creating a new range of emotions so that the emotions I have are love of the present (released from the past) where I can generate positivity, possibility, potential, opportunity, forgiveness, newness, hope, and every range of true emotion of the soul. I am not a hamster any longer but I do wheel along now with an ever changing scenery, not the same old same old of the past. But let me be honest. I occasionally fall off. So I need a bit of help.
You will notice that in the iWheel photo, there is another man pushing from behind. We all need that kind of person in our life. Someone who helps to propel us forward in our journey and who has the wider view of where we might be headed. This is our trusted other that I referred to earlier. Make sure you have one in your life. I do. He is the most amazing and beautiful man with whom I can be authentic and when my iWheel gets stuck, he gives me a nudge by reminding me of the life I have committed to co-creating, one based on the values of love, family, community, integrity, professionalism, and sharing.
I hope you have found your iWheel and trusted other. If you feel like a hamster, contact me. All I can do is share with you what I have learned. Maybe just stopping for a moment and asking how will give you the break you need. Namaste.