I love flying. I can be so free and so focused on a plane — I can read voraciously, write freely, organize anything, meditate for hours — or just sit and be. I love that feeling of being so far above the earth, no gravity weighing me down. I am not in control, and I can do no wrong; someone else is responsible for getting us there. There is nothing I have to do but relax and enjoy the ride. If only I could capture that feeling on earth!
Ever since I was a little girl, I used to play a game with myself when I flew. Whenever the plane hit turbulence and the ride got bumpy, I would say, If we don’t crash, then when we land I will . . . and then I would fill in the blank. At first, it was I’ll do better in math. Later, I’ll be more organized, I’ll clean my desk, I’ll be kinder to myself, I’ll take up singing again, and so on.
Then, of course, we would land safely, and I’d go on exactly as before. I very rarely implemented any changes I’d promised myself up in the air where everything seemed possible. Gravity always got the better of me.
Trying to "Fix" Myself: Conforming to The World's Rigid Structures
For years, I looked at myself through the prism of trying to “fix” myself. It was subtle, out of sight, like a current underneath the smooth surface of a river, but it was altering the flow of my life.
From my earliest school days, one of my greatest challenges was fitting into the rigid structures that the world imposed. From the rigorous logic of equations in math class to the coursework in my master’s program, where assignments had to follow prescribed templates that I found severely limiting, the need to conform was ever-present and often excruciating.
Conformity: Stifling & Judging Your Creative Nature
My creative nature felt stifled. And I judged myself when I did not conform, even when I was doing something I was very good at. For example, if I made baklava and someone asked me for the recipe, I’d say, “You eyeball it,” but they’d want to hear six tablespoons of butter, half a cup of chopped nuts . . . They’d say, “how can you not know how much butter to use?”
For a long time I felt that I did not fit within the structured, linear world, and this caused me tremendous distress. But while linear ways of doing things sometimes eluded me, creative expression was second nature: dance, drama, anything that took me to another magical plane.
Daydreaming: Finding Your Way Back to Your True Self
Daydreaming came very easily to me, and eventually I realized that daydreaming was actually calling me toward a different way of being, one that wasn’t necessarily the world’s way, but uniquely my own.
When I started to find my own way, other things fell into place too, and I discovered that the structure I’d struggled with could actually be an ally, supporting my creativity and my life. The day that I accepted my true nature was a happy day.
Fitting In: Trying to Be a Round Peg in a Square Hole
The fact is, none of us really fits in. And we expend great amounts of energy trying to fix the parts of ourselves that don’t conform so that we will fit in. But when you give up fixing yourself, first you start to fit comfortably in your own space, and then you discover that there’s a whole world out there ready to receive you.
In different phases of our lives, this pattern shows up over and over again, as our ideas of what we should be and what our world should be differ from our changing reality. We women face this in a very primal way in our own bodies as they change with menopause.
Self-Judgment: Something's Wrong With Me!
As my body changed, I started to feel that there was something wrong with me, and so I sought out doctors who I thought could fix me. One of the remedies I tried was a hormone-replacement therapy that backfired badly: the doctor gave me too much estrogen, and my breasts went up two cup sizes and my whole body started to bloat. Not exactly the result I was hoping for!
Because your metabolism changes as well in menopause, I had more cravings than ever, and of course I turned to food for comfort — carbs and wine, which are the last things you need if you want to keep your energy up and your body functioning well. Perhaps the hardest part was seeing myself go from a size 8 to a size 12, thinking that there was something terribly wrong with being a size 12. The problem wasn’t the size, it was my judgment about the size.
Surrendering: Being Who I Am At this Moment in Time
Then, I surrendered. I accepted that this was a natural progression, one that required a lot of loving and a lot of kindness. And once I admitted that I couldn’t “fix” me, help started to come to me from all directions.
Most important, the changes in my body helped to dislodge the conviction that I had to look a certain way and be a certain way in order to feel good about myself. I had wanted me back, the way I was, but it turned out that the only way to get myself back was to move myself forward into the new phase, with all its gifts and challenges and new awareness.
There is Nothing to Fix: Discerning What's Right for Me and What's Not
I look at my life differently now, thinking in terms of what needs to be healed rather than fixed. I know that our attempts at fixing are bound to fail, because they are based on judgment — the judgment that something is wrong with the way things are, the way we are.
We can course-correct, we can grow and learn, experience and explore, discover and discern what’s right for us and what is not. But there is nothing to fix. Like the world around us, we are perfectly imperfect just the way we are.
©2012 by Agapi Stassinopoulos. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity, and Unconditional Love
by Agapi Stassinopoulos.
Everyone is born with an open heart, but we quickly learn to put conditions on our happiness — comparing ourselves to others, casting judgment, doubting ourselves, allowing fear or entitlement or self-righteousness to take hold — and slowly our hearts begin to close. In doing so we immobilize our spirit, stifle our authentic expression, and cut off our joy. In Unbinding the Heart, author, speaker, and Huffington Post regular Agapi Stassinopoulos invites readers on an inspiring journey of inner exploration to reconnect with their true selves.
About the Author
Agapi Stassinopoulos was born and raised in Athens, Greece. At age 18, she entered the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and afterward became a member of the Young Vic. She moved to the United States to do film and television, and later attended the University of Santa Monica, where she completed her Master’s in Psychology. An inspiring speaker, Agapi conducts seminars world-wide empowering people to recognize their individual gifts and create the lives they want. She is a frequent blogger for The Huffington Post and the sister of Arianna Huffington. Website: www.unbindingtheheart.com