When you want to withdraw because of fear or uncertainty, stay where you are and ask for more…
Here is the context for Ask Yourself for More. Towards the end of an hour of Pilates, I was a bit fatigued, looking at the clock and patting myself on the back for the good work I had done that morning. We were doing a standing forward press with springs and what I was being asked to do was to push the springs, with my hands, from my shoulders. You know, like a standing push up. My instructor had told me that I needed to use my seat to feet connection, engage my lats and use my pelvic floor through my head to do this work. And of course, I said okay and proceeded to push the springs with my shoulders. I could only get the springs out about half way until they would push back and I would be pushed back off balance. I tried harder again, with the same result. Okay, so try harder. Nope. Of course, I had not followed all of the setup steps she had created for me; I was just trying to do the work from a familiar place. What time does the clock say? Dang, still 5 minutes to go! I needed to buy some time, so I said to her, “I am too tired to do this today.” Well, you know how this goes right? With her trained eye, she could see that I was just doing it the old fashioned guy way: push hard. So, she set me up again to do the work, but I was already in that place of I can’t, and not really listening. I looked at her with my best pleading look that was supposed to tell her, can’t you see I am really trying? I mean really trying? She looked at me with those unwavering brown eyes and in a very calm voice said, “You need to ask yourself for more.” blink, blink “Let’s do it again!”
Well, if you have never done Pilates, you will find out quickly that force doesn’t work and TRYING is REALLY pathetic! Pilates asks you to show up to do the work, from a different place and it takes time, practice and patience to find this place. Failing, a lot, is part of the learning and when you ask yourself for more, you can use your body in a more powerful way. I have found there are many connections between the practice of Pilates and the practice of doing new things with our lives. Let’s see if I can connect that for you below.
What I have discovered is that we have our automatic ways of being, the normal gear most of us operate within without too much effort and it seems to work pretty well. Life becomes predictable, there are very few surprises we have to deal with and we get into a groove. Our groove becomes comfortable and we are happy.
Life just goes along and we learn to go along and get along. The ups and downs of life diminish from time to time and all is just fine. Complacency becomes part of our life, we think we are doing all right and then notice there might be something missing. Nah, we push it away and keep going. Maybe we are just bored, we need some attention, maybe some flowers or a romantic dinner, we need a special vacation, a little excitement and then it will be great again. So, we do those things and what we thought we needed doesn’t seem to last. Life seems harder, things come much harder and then we hear our friend resignation whisper in our ear.
Well, we can overcome that little whisper, can’t we; we have before and we will again! We can put more effort into what we are doing, we can try harder and then we will see the results we want. But there’s a problem, huh? We run out of energy, we feel drained, it has become harder and we have to pretend.
When pretending becomes our new normal, our choices, our points of view and our hiding become a way of being, which colors our entire life. What we haven’t noticed is that our normal gear has significant limitations and it really doesn’t work very well at all. The sun rises, we survive another day and then we need to rest for another great day!
When we share with others the way our life is going, we get the sense of me too! Like, this is just the way It is and it seems like that It is everywhere, so what is the problem? Ah, another whisper, God would not have given you this life if you were not strong enough to handle it. Another cliche to shake you by your shoulders and get you straightened out: but, that cliche has two meanings, yes? Oh, you thought there was only one?
We all come to points in our lives where, like it or not, there is a choice. In these moments, we do have a choice. We can look at where we are and accept what we have been given or we can actually deal with our resistance, our created limitations of the past. Yes, created when we were young in our effort to survive. Maybe what God gives us is an opportunity to either choose our lot in life or ask ourselves for more.
This is not about, “you should be happy with what you got for your birthday.” This is about being happy no matter what you have been given. I am talking about asking ourselves to face the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, the fences we have built to protect our soft spots. This is not about being a better person, being a better person for others or pushing the springs harder because those actions come with in-order-to’s.
When we watch a person exercising doing the work, we watch the visible parts, the parts we think are doing the work, but we may miss where the work is actually being done. For example, in Pilates, an onlooker, might see my shoulders and arms flexing to push the springs away from my body, but what they miss is the strong platform I built with my seat to feet connection, my lats and back connection, and the pelvic floor engaged through the top of my head to move the springs with my entire body. The work is easier to do if I do it with all of me, if I ask all of me for more.
Maybe Asking for More is Like This…
- When you want to withdraw because of fear or uncertainty, stay where you are and ask for more patience.
- When things seem too hard, ask for more of you, ask for forgiveness.
- When something or someone you love seems to be slipping away, ask for more and open your heart to love.
- When all is quiet, ask for more and let it be quiet.
- When you feel you are not enough, ask for more and bring love to all that you do.
- When things seem confusing, ask for more and look for simplicity, clarity and speak the truth.
Good things, how we want for our life to be, take time, patience and perseverance. You may have heard this before, but maybe a new way to look at it is stay with the resistance, let resistance impart its wisdom upon you.
When I notice I am in the space of worry, I return to, Let go, Let God. This allows me to let go of the worry and invite peace into my life. I must continue to choose it because worry is something I can do so easily, particularly when I am playing the role of the victim. There are so many things that are beyond my control and worrying about them makes no difference. Worrying is a great way to distract myself from taking action, being at choice about what I want for my life. Worrying is an easy thing to do and it is part of the survival of my identity, but it is also a waste of time and it is not about asking for more.
Being truly happy, being joyful and being at peace will ask us to stay with the unfamiliar, long enough to experience something new, something new about ourselves or about the world. This seems contradictory, but resistance is our friend, it can be a great teacher. It’s like paying attention to the springs I am pushing against, while they are pushing back at me. My being aware, in that moment, may inform me there is something new just around the corner. So, when you find yourself saying, this is too hard, I don’t know how, I don’t think I can, I can’t or finally, I won’t, you might have gone through the spaces to turn back from what you might truly want. When you find yourself in one of these places, maybe the thing to do is Ask Yourself for More and keep it moving forward.
I am practicing asking myself for more.