Few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast. The guest was a Hindu monk who lived 10 years in a monastery, learning about himself and life.
At some point, the host asked him ironically if after leaving the monastery he went to Casinos, strip clubs and do all of that. The monk replied he did, but not immediately.
He said he knew it was going to be an emotionally intense period for him. His subconscious was going to be shaped after his actions in those first few days and weeks outside the monastery. So he decided to be disciplined and established positive habits for himself.
This is because our subconscious — he says — is like a piece of metal. To shape it, you need to heat it up and model it. Then once it cools down, it has a new shape.
Every time we go through an emotionally intense moment in life, our subconscious heats up and we have the power to shape it with our choices.
This concept really stuck with me. I thought about my life, our lives.
If we consider that we went through most of our childhood and adolescence pretty much unconsciously, we realize we didn’t really choose how to deal with things but rather we responded to them.
For how I see it, every time we were challenged emotionally in our past, feeling exposed and vulnerable, we could respond in two ways: fear or love.
If we responded with fear, resisting the emotion, we contracted, limited and depressed our energy.
If we responded with love, accepting the emotion, we expanded, unleashed and vitalized our energy.
Those moments, those choices, significantly shaped our subconscious mind, our beliefs system, and therefore the way we live our lives. In many cases, up to this very day.
I can easily recall many situations where I responded to vulnerability with fear: when my football teammates used to make jokes about me, when my parents used to discipline me for a bad grade, when my girlfriend was disappointed in me because of some behavior.
What were the consequences of all those responses? How did they shape my beliefs system?
Three words: NOT BEING ENOUGH. The primary fear underlying them all.
I learned that love is conditioned. That it comes from some external validation. That I cannot be whole as I am right now. That I’m always missing something.
But that’s bullshit.
That leads to suffering.
And it’s a good thing. Because when the suffering becomes too much to bear, eventually it makes those same beliefs collapse.
You gradually wake up from the illusion. You realize that true self-love is the opposite of what you believed it to be. And you start to reshape your beliefs around it.
How? Heating up the piece of metal, the subconscious mind.
How? Being vulnerable. Challenging yourself out of the comfort zone. Being exposed to other people’s judgment. Embracing uncertainty.
In those moments, when you are out there on your own, vulnerable, exposed, fragile.. you choose to be your own friend. You learn to give yourself that love that you crave so much. You learn to be enough as you are. Beautiful as you are.
That’s how you build inner strength. That’s how you fall in love with yourself.
Author: Dario Villirilli