Who's the real enemy?
I came across a quote a few years ago and it's been stalking me, popping up here and there lately, he tohu! it's a sign! and also seems like a fitting continuation from last weeks post. I like to pick ideas apart and wrestle with them so I can fully understand them (usually takes a day or seventy). I rely on my intuition 95% of the time, so new information and knowledge often feels right and good to me before I can articulate why with words. I’m working on it! This blog has been a great exercise to improve on my articulation, so bless you all for making it through the posts. Anyway, the quote below is an example of coming across something that felt right though I wasn't quite sure why.
ʻʻIf there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do us no harm”
What conversations are going on inside your head? Is it positive self-talk? Do you doubt your ability to get whatever it is, done? What are you feeding your body, mind, soul?
The more I wrestled with this idea, the more I was reminded of my tupuna, Houmaitawhiti. Many years ago, before his people of Ngāti Ohomairangi (a great tribe, known today as, Te Arawa) departed Hawaiki (Hawaiki) for Aotearoa; he proclaimed his ōhākī (dying wish) for how they should conduct themselves in their new land. The karakia (incantation, chant, prayer) is beautiful with powerful metaphors and themes that are as relevant as ever. One I'll expand on is:
“…Purea o taringa kia turi, a, kia hoi. Koi whakarongo koe ki te korero iti, ko te korero iti ka tahuri na ko te hau aitu…”
“..Deafen your ears. Refrain from hearing things insignificant. Such things will guarantee your demise..”
How often have you heard, “don’t worry about what people think,” or “who cares”? I care!! I’ve been conditioned to care. I’ve been taught to be myself but, ohh not too much. You fit into this box so you should act like this, this and this. That won't make you any money, that won't make you any friends.. We’re told to be ourselves, but really it's only the appealing parts that fit in with people’s opinions of who we are. People might say ‘oh you’ve changed,’ as if you worked so hard to stay the same? Since when was becoming a better version of ourselves, or learning a new skill, hanging out with aspirational and determined people, or trying something new a bad thing? Bad for how people perceive you and try to put you in a box that is. 'People won’t like you if you do that' (to an extent where safety isn’t concerned). I like me, and as long as I meet my own criteria, I'll do what I want.
We live in a society that encourages us to have and share our opinions on everything external. Our focus is drawn to the outside, to value what we see on the surface, to everyone and everything else, rather than reflecting inward and giving that same level of attention to ourselves.
Do you know who you are?
What you believe in, what your values are, what you stand or won’t stand for, what excites you, what triggers your anger, who makes you feel like you can’t be yourself, why you cry (sad or happy cry), the real reason you’re scared to make the leap, why you say things you don’t mean, or that you don't have a clue what you're doing.. are you confident being you and do you own your purpose or even better, your not-knowing-what-you're-up-to-ness? Not knowing is ok, it's natural people.
Alright, let's go deep. If you don't know, now you know: I would cry when it came to talking about personal, intimate feelings or thoughts. I'd get super embarrassed and didn’t like that I did this, but accepted that crying was just me, just something I did. As the years went by, the crying seriously got in the way of communicating and something had to change, because feeling misunderstood sucks. So I'd google ‘how not to cry’ and got some great tips, but they were treating the symptom; the tears, not the cause or why; the need to cry, therefore not very effective. I'd come up with different theories about my 'condition,' until one day I was confronted with the idea; to cry as a defence mechanism, so as not to share my deepest darkest thoughts. Wow, never thought of it like that. The more I developed this idea, the more it made sense. I was sabotaging myself, subconsciously. I yearned to be understood but when push came to shove, somewhere along the way I'd learnt that crying was the easy out and it worked, so it became habit. Boy, let me tell ya, unlearning habits is a tough job. It takes courage to be honest with yourself and act on it. Papa Albert Einstein said,
“the level of thinking that has brought you this far in life has created some problems that this level of thinking cannot solve.”
I'd become so good at crying in intimate situations but it wasn't cutting it anymore, Hana of the future had to be able to communicate clearly so I had to unlearn this habit (one of many) and start over; the best decision I could make. I realised that I was embarrassed about crying yes because of what others would think of me but mainly because I didn't know why I'd do it?! I had no explanation. A funny thing happened though, as I became more aware of why, as I was focusing on myself, I didn't take notice of much else that was going on and I became less and less embarrassed. When in those tense situations, my self-awareness would be up so high I could feel the tears, hold 'em back, say my bit and be done with it. It's still a work in progress but I understand myself better, I'm more self-aware and my strike rate has improved superbly.
The last year or two have been intently focused on understanding myself. 'Self-discovery' if you will. Not just becoming self-aware but owning it and embracing what makes me, me. I constantly reflect on myself as a whole and in my individual 'roles'; going through attributes, tendencies and habits. Identifying what's working, what isn't, what needs to go and what has to stay. I believe we're shaped by our environment, so I made as many changes to my environment as I could control, for it to be more of what I wanted. This meant culling the Facebook lists, decorating my house with positive/motivating affirmations; reading books about growth, improvement and mastery; choosing to spend my time on people and tasks that I value; consciously changing the story in my head about 'who I am' to name a few.
It'll be an ongoing journey for sure, everything has its process. For me, it starts with small steps; tiny adjustments in habit, thinking, or behaviour to affect a positive change. Because I'm so obsessed with growing and mastering myself, my connection and contribution to the world; I pay little or no attention to outward parasites or 'enemies.' My enemies within (doubt, korero iti, negative-self talk) have become weaker and weaker as I have become more confident in knowing and owning who I am. Confidence, the best thing you can wear.
He mihi ki a: Stephen Te Moni and Paora Te Hurihanganui for their translations of Te ohaki a Houmaitawhiti.