Sculpt a New You
It wasn’t that long ago that the whole idea of body-building was popularized. Prior to this we simply thought what we were born with was what we would always have, so no one ever tried to transform themselves. Now we see dedicated people changing their bodies all the time. Obviously our beliefs about this have changed drastically.
Right now, we are at that exact point in the field of psychiatry, just discovering that like our body, our brain matter is also highly malleable. The idea that behaviors and personalities are set in stone, that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, is an outdated and false belief. We now know we can literally think our way into a new way of being. (One could call it the new age of Mind-Building).
And it gets even better because we are also learning the body tends to follow the minds directives more often than not; so it’s like getting a two for one. Change your thoughts change your body too. Thoughts and feelings are amazingly powerful tools. Not only can they color how we see the world, but they affect our immune system, inflammatory markers, whether or not certain genes are expressed, our biological age, and even our gut bacteria. This is not soft science. Study upon study and hard evidence of brain scans, EEG’s, bio-markers, etc. visually demonstrate the changes in our brain and body when we allow ourselves to think a new way.
Humans are gifted with an awesome capacity to evolve consciously. This creative ability to see ourselves and treat ourselves as raw material and make our own conscious decisions about how we want to evolve is our biggest asset. It is unbelievably exciting.
We all have the right (and actually responsibility) to be the artist of our own creation.
So where do we begin? How to reclaim our position as master sculptor?
First: Get to know the thought material you will be working with to mold your life.
Even though we started out as relatively blank slates, (with few other fingerprints accept those on our two tiny hands), from there on in the imprinting from the outside starts. People and systems sculpt us and we mistakenly take on that form as our own. But each of us is totally unique. To reclaim our personal raw material we have some things to disassemble first. We need to spend some time getting to know our thoughts. What’s your inner dialogue? Does it sound something like, “I’m capable. I have a sunny disposition. I love to accomplish things with ease,” or is it more like, “Who do I think I am? What’s the use? This is selfish”. Revealing this inner voice lets you know what you’re working with. Once you know what’s in there, you can make conscious decisions about what to retain and what to discard; this is the way the brain prunes its neurons after all. It’s your brain material to sculpt the way you desire.
Step Two: Explore and discover how you were sculpted. Each one of us is ultimately responsible for creating our own masterpiece. Of course, we grow from guidance and education but if someone absolutely insists things have to be a certain way, or even worse, they mark up our own canvas, this never works out well. We cannot live another person’s story, nor should we expect them to live ours. We need to decipher what material belongs to us and what belongs to another. A sign that we have taken on another’s work is that it usually creates tension and negativity within us. It doesn’t sit well with us, because it’s not really ours to begin with. Get to know the source and theme of these thoughts? Do they sound like someone in your family (your mother, father, a sibling, etc)? Is this portrait one of savior, perpetrator, and/or victim? Did a central event make such a huge impression that it informs all else? How are these voices different from your own internal voice and how do you differentiate what’s what?
Step Three: Identify what fixed ideas you’ve developed around these themes, then realize how brittle and distorted they can make your current creations. Raw material is simply raw material. That’s what we ultimately all are. Our ideas are what we use to give temporary form to this material. Just as we can take a piece of clay and pull it apart to start a new piece, we can do this with ourselves as well. We can add and take away any time we want; change does not have to be hugely complicated nor do we have to earn the right to explore various ways of being.
The reality is everything is changing all the time. Every cell in our body recycles itself at regular intervals. When we don’t allow our ideas to be fluid as well, they generally cause us problems; getting in the way of us seeing things clearly and jumping onto new opportunities.
So why do we hold onto these old forms of thought? Often they work at a subconscious level affecting us in ways we haven’t ‘outed’ yet. Sometimes they’re so steeped in our generational history that we never even thought to question them. Sometimes they won’t go away until we grow from them instead of staying steeped in them. And sometimes they don’t want to go away until they’ve been met with some compassion.
Much of the time we are in ‘management mode’ where we are subconsciously responding to our environment. More rarely do we engage our ‘creative mode’ where we consciously select our thoughts and feelings in order to serve us. Rather than distorting your new thoughts to constantly squeeze into old forms how about returning to your raw material and letting yourself start fresh.
What fixed ideas are you sculpting your life with?
Step Four: Happily begin your new piece of work Immerse yourself in the new forms of thought you’ve decided to cultivate (read about them, write them down, draw them out, talk about them, breathe life into them). Share your new creation with others; either with groups of people who think similarly, or even proudly and joyfully among those who unwittingly sculpted you in the first place. Check to make sure this new creation is correlated with happier and more powerful feelings inside (a sure sign that for now this will be a new masterpiece).
Although you’re not finished yet (we are all a work in progress), let yourself experience joy while in your creative mode. Don’t hold it at bay until you meet a goal of transformation. The process of creating can be happiness itself.
Heidi Waltos, MSN, CNS 2016