My whole life I’d received messages that will was the ability to take action and “stick with it,” especially if it was something I did not want to do and/or was difficult. The ideas that surrounded the concept of will were ideas of sacrifice, struggle and discipline. And I’m not saying that these aspects aren’t important components of manifesting will, but I have come to learn, they are not the driving force of will. And they certainly do not create long-lasting change.
Knowing something is good for me is not enough to give me the drive and empowerment I need to catapult myself toward what I wish to create. Breaking old patterns and deprogramming behaviors and thoughts that harm me, keep me feeling stuck, or even worse, prevent my evolution, require I touch something profoundly within that ignites sparks of desire, power, purpose and self-love. These are the forces of combustion that propel me into movement and action to manifest my will.
The dictionary definition of will is:
- The faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.
- A deliberate or fixed desire or intention.
- Control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.
It is through our will that we liberate ourselves from fixed patterns and create new behavior, which leads us to fulfill our greatest visions. Think about how many times you tried to force yourself to do something you actually really wanted? Doesn’t that sound like a paradox? Let me explain. There are things we want in our lives, aspects of our selves we want to develop. We legitimately want and yearn for these things. However, We enter into relationships with these things we want to accomplish through force and control. We want the results, but the work and effort it takes to get the results are things we loath and resist. Why? Because the means is as important as the results when it comes to changing our behaviors, attitudes and ultimately our lives.
Take exercise and wight-loss, two of the most dreaded goals people who are trying to break unhealthy habits embark on. First of all, I used to set these unattainable goals for myself that would make me lose confidence right away and lure me into cycles of self-criticism and self-recrimination. I thought all I needed to make changes was to commit and follow through on my commitment. But my power to achieve lied in discipline, control and manipulation. While discipline is necessary to accomplish most things, it is another aspect of control over separate parts if there is not an internal agreement with the body and mind. True will requires deep communication with the self.
We feel guilty for things we do or don’t do based on perception of what others are doing. This, sometimes, more than our will drives us to action. Unfortunately true lasting dedication and change only comes from true will. So where does our will come from?
For those who pay special attention to their chakra energy centers, the initial task of the third chakra is to overcome inertia. In other words, the first step of exerting our will is to gather enough motivation and initiative to begin. In physics, inertia refers to the tendency of an object to remain in the state it is in. The hardest part is getting started. The second hardest part is continuing the momentum; in other words sustaining inertia, our will. Often we approach the things we want to achieve from a place of control, but control eventually eats away at our enthusiasm and changes our attitude to one of obligation and burden rather than engagement. This depletes our self-empowerment and robs us of autonomy, therein creating resistance to the very thing we had set out to do. A paradox, indeed!
One important aspect of gathering enough motivation and initiative to “begin” is to reconnect with self in a loving and accepting way. To become in touch with our bodies, passions and pleasures. To learn how to love ourselves, giving ourselves room to breathe, to explore, to make mistakes, to be imperfect against what we perceive to be perfection.
Today I asked my body what she needed,
Which is a big deal
Considering my journey of
Not Really Asking That Much
I though she might need more water.
But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks,
Her roundness where I would like flatness,
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditional wishes
That form a bundle of
She whispered very gently:
Could you just love me like this?
The power within grows as we build energy in our bodies, and that energy grows with our ability to connect, to merge, to nourish ourselves from what surrounds us. This why exploring and discovering our pleasures and passions is so important. Salsa is like flying for me – there is so much freedom and joy in it. When I hear the music, my feet my hips, my arms and my shoulders completely submit to it and this pure, unrestricted and powerful energy just takes over and flows through my whole being. In those moments, there are no limitations, no doubts, no self-criticism, no inhibitions. Just a surge of pure joy! There can be a hundred people around me, but I feel like a hummingbird flying through the vast sky. I completely come out of my thoughts and step into the infinity of my life.
This, too, is part of my healing; my ability to feel emotions beyond my fears and pain. To live life beyond the struggle and sacrifice I (we) have often been taught to exist in. And live it without shame or guilt or hesitation. Healing is multi-layered and multi-dimensional. Some of it is about immersing ourselves in the pain in order to understand it, process it and release it. Sometimes our healing is about taking our pain and experiences and using that to manifest our creativity in beautiful and inspirational ways. Sometimes it’s about bonding with friends and family and filling up with love and connectedness. Sometimes it’s talking to a professional that helps us unravel all the tangled and confusion, so we have a place to start. Other times it’s about re-membering our ancestral wisdom and traditions. And sometimes it’s doing things that remind us how beautifully intoxicating and electrifying life can be. We gotta let ourselves be lured by the sweet, tantalizing energy of life. Not as an escape, but as a reintroduction to the life we were given before this world suppressed it.
When we are actively engaging with the world, we are breaking the cycle of fear and withdrawal, immersing ourselves in more dynamic and profound lives. Then, we can better direct our lives toward that which we love, that which ignites us, challenges us and renews us. This is where our will comes from.
It wasn’t the lack of will to exercise or to lose weight that was the obstacle, it was not moving my body in ways that excited and engaged me. Now, losing weight is a by-product of doing things I really love. In order for our will to be engaged, we must also be in touch with our desires. How can we exert our will, if we don’t know what we want.
Yes, discipline is important. But even discipline becomes another aspect of control if the is not an internal agreement within the mind and body, and that only comes with listening to our deepest desires as a way to discover our purpose. Knowledge of the will, with its infinite and constant choices from a deeper sense of purpose. If we are unclear about our purpose, then it’s hard to know just what our will is in a given situation. The task of our consciousness is to accurately assess who we are, for within that mystery lies the purpose our will must address. And knowing who we are comes from the reciprocal process of looking deep within and engaging with the world.
“A big part of willpower is having something to aspire to, something to live for.” Mark Shuttleworth