Image by Pezibear
Narrated by Marie T. Russell
In order for things, or people, to change they need to be flexible. A willow tree bends in the wind while the branches of a more rigid tree like an oak can be broken by a strong wind. The river flows around obstacles that stand in its way. If you are the river, you seek the easiest way. If you are the object in the way of the river, you either stand your ground and get worn down by the water, also known as erosion, or you let go of and let the water move you along to your next destination.
Many people are not willing or feel capable of letting go and going with life's flow. For some, that means denying what they see right in front of them. It may mean sticking to a job they hate, an unloving relationship, or living in a location they do not enjoy.
We sometimes stick to our preconceived plans and ideas, no matter what is going on around us. Even though our intuition and inner guidance may be sending us hints as to which way to go, we may refuse to budge. Not being willing to see possible alternatives to what is currently in front of us keeps us from evolving.
Rigidity also gets manifested in the body... through stiff and achy bones, through a spine that is not flexible, a neck that is rigid, shoulders that are tight, a hip that hurts, a knee that refuses to bend, etc. In order to be in tune with life and what is best for us, we need to be fluid, to be willing to bend and change, and willing to do things differently perhaps than we have ever done them.
Habits can be another form of rigidity and resistance to change. Some habits are helpful, as in brushing your teeth after a meal, or taking a walk at a certain time, or automatically securing your seat belt in the car. But some habits, as we all know, are not healthy or helpful. Habits like smoking, eating junk food, and not exercising -- yes, not doing something can also be a habit -- these are not helpful.
Habits are often a case of getting in a rut and taking the path of least resistance...whatever we are used to doing, saying, and thinking. A habit is a subconscious pattern, so the way to move out of it is to start being conscious of our every moment -- being present in the moment, rather than running on autopilot. It takes determination and willpower to resist a habit and make a change.
Make your conscious focus be: I choose to be aware of my thoughts and habitual actions. It might help to turn off all exterior noises so that you can hear yourself think. This will allow you to hear the mental chatter that will precede the habitual action taking form. and then that will help you stop the rote behavior. By listening to your mental chatter, you will be aware of the choice you are making before you consciously or unconsciously make it.
Another form of rigidity is conforming to the "norm" and not expressing and fulfilling our true nature. In many ways, society expects us to conform and fit a rigid mold: behave as expected, get a good job or career, get married and have children, buy a house and a car, and live your life without making waves. Waves are fluid, flexible, and free. Fitting someone else's mold for our lives is rigid, and keep in mind that the most pronounced form of rigidity is death, whether that is physical death or emotional stagnancy.
Conforming is simply living according to someone else's idea of what is right for you. However, living according to the song in your heart and the guidance and wisdom of your heart, is the way to avoid conforming to someone else's definition of who you are and who you "should" be.
When we listen to our own heart, sing our own song, follow our dreams, then we are being true to ourselves and stepping away from the rigid path of conformity which is devoid of life, creativity, and joy.
Guilt and Shame
Two things that act like cement in our lives are guilt and shame. They keep us stuck in the past, and unable to step forth into a wonderful future. Guilt and shame are both constructs of the ego, of the mind. They have nothing to do with the heart. The heart loves! End of story!
The mind, on the other hand, analyses, find things to criticize, to blame, to feel guilty about or to guilt others about. Love does none of the above. It loves! End of story! Even when it is "tough love", it is love nonetheless -- not judgment, not blame, not guilting or shaming.
To step out of the rigidity of our lives, and allow change to flourish, we must let go of guilt and shame, whether it is addressed towards ourselves or towards others. Freedom comes when we release all ties to these two jail-keepers and instead hitch our star to joy and love, in the here and now.
Another stance that keeps us stuck in the past is playing the victim. The traits that we embrace when we choose to play victim are not only rigid, they are disempowering. A victim is stuck in past events and current powerlessness.
After all, whether it is done consciously or not, a victim is one who has handed over or relinquished the power over their lives to someone else. Allowing one's self to be a victim is choosing to be weak and to give up any control over our lives.
The path to flexibility and freedom lies in self-empowerment, and one cannot be a victim and empowered at the same time. Victims are powerless, or at least they think they are. But our power resides in deciding to no longer be a victim of others, or of circumstances, or even of our own thoughts and beliefs. Choosing to claim our power and acknowledge that we are responsible for our own choices and our life is the way out of victimhood and into being our true self.
Should usually refers to rules or preferences set out by others, whether by parents, authority figures, society, etc. Some "shoulds" are beneficial, as in you should not yell "Fire" in a crowded theater. However, shoulds tend to relate to controlling personal behavior to fit an established norm.
Our heart needs to be free to choose its own path -- not to follow the path prescribed for us by others. Anything that is instilled in us, either by repeated suggestions or indoctrination, is a should. Shoulds - and shouldn'ts - are burdens. They are heavy chains that keep us from being ourselves. And not only do "shoulds" come from others, but we also use "should" on ourselves.
You may have heard the expression, "don't should on yourself". This refers to the times we tell ourselves we "should" (or shouldn't) do a particular thing, or act in a particular way. It is definitely another form of rigidity as it restricts our natural way of being. In order to allow miracles to take place in our lives, we must let go of "should" and instead choose our actions and live, in each moment, according to what is for the highest good.
If we want things to get better, we have to be willing for them to change... which means we ourselves have to be willing to change. In other words, we must step beyond the rigidity of our preconceived notions, our old beliefs, and any barriers we have erected between "us" and "them" -- whether the "them" is other people, or parts of ourselves that we don't like or haven't yet accepted.
There is no "them". It is all "we". We are all part of the same puzzle, the same play, the same world. The pieces of a puzzle are a different shape, a different hue, are situated in a different location, and have a different purpose. But every piece, thus every event and every person, is of equal importance in the completion of the puzzle of life on earth.
In order to make a new dream come about, we have to be willing to let go of any limitations we have placed on ourselves and on others, and be willing to expect the best from everyone, including ourselves. Change, by its very nature, means letting go of the past, of the way things were, and perhaps of the way we have expected them to be. We must be willing to expect our dreams to come true, or as the affirmation goes "this, or something better".
Article inspired from the card deck:
The Oh Cards
by E. Raman
From educators and artists to therapists and trainers, thousands of practitioners are using the OH Cards. There are 88 picture cards and 88 word cards - place a picture on a word and an inner story begins to unfold.
These decks are designed to increase intuition, imagination, insight and inner vision. With 88 pictures and 88 words, there are 7,744 possible combinations.
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About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com