Painting by Wendy Beresford
I know that you know what works for you. I know that you know what makes you feel centred and energised and what feeds your soul. So often, we say we don’t know what we want, but we really do. The key is consistent and gentle attention on what bubbles up in our dreams, feelings and physical sensations. And perhaps, like me, despite knowing, you still find it incredibly hard to stay committed to caring for yourself and nurturing your dreams.
It’s on the third step of our creative process that we can really come up against any sense of unworthiness, self-sabotaging behaviours, the reticence to ask for help and our confusing fear of becoming the powerful force we know ourselves to be. This is where we are called to paint in the details, and bring our vision down to earth.
The Third Step
It’s here that we take our audacious Step Two vision and break it down into actionable and manageable pieces. Yeah, yeah, but how? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably experiencing an urge to stop reading and drift back to scrolling through your news feed.
When it came to landing an idea I would feel overwhelmed and incompetent. I was scared off by the “hows”. I didn’t know how. What if I screwed it up? What if I couldn’t pull it off? If I could take right action, then surely I would’ve done so before now? The leap from where I was to my vision was too vast, too impossible to bridge. That dreaded question would form like a toxic bubble in my brain – what if I didn’t have what it takes to succeed at creating my dreams? It seemed much safer not to take action and to stay in my head, procrastinating and perfecting the concept to death. I’m sure you’ve heard versions of the story of the aspiring writer, who sits down to begin, only to drift off into paralysing fears of how on earth she’ll find a publisher or handle the success of her book becoming a wild success. In the end, nothing is written, because it’s all too hard, too frightening… just too big.
I am learning to baby myself through this process of mapping out and completing the details, in painting, writing and in life. And I’ve found a few hand rails that help me to do that.
Honour your fears and limiting beliefs
We can visualise, think positively and affirm our dream as already realised, ad nauseam, but until we give our fears and limiting beliefs a voice, we are simply putting a band-aid over a broken bone and hoping that’ll do the job.
Unconditional love means to love and accept the parts of ourselves we don’t like, acknowledge or want others to find out about… without condition or judgement. The only way to do this is to first meet and converse with these parts of ourselves. And we can always find them hiding out in our fears and limiting beliefs.
I recommend taking a look at the work of Lloyd Burnett in this area of getting truthful about what we want and what makes us afraid of getting it. He suggests that instead of doing a vision board, we do a fear board. Most of us would veer away from the very idea of a fear board… what if it makes them come true? What if my attention on my fears causes them to manifest in my life? And so, we choose to stay in the “love and light” of denial, all the while rejecting the parts of ourselves where our gold is hidden. So do a fear board. Get intimate with your fears and limiting beliefs. To get the ball rolling, ask yourself what you fear will happen if you manifest what you say you want. Ask yourself why you want what you say you want. What happened the last time you got what you wanted? And the time before that? Get really honest with yourself and you may be very surprised by unconscious motives that are in place to keep you from getting hurt, but which no longer serve the person you are becoming.
And then love the crap out of these parts of you that are holding you back “for your own good”. Comfort them, hold them and accept them without judgement. You will see they have served you and kept you safe in their dysfunctional way. See them and their story. Only then can we choose a different story.
The art of manifesting is handled by our unconscious and it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into manifesting consciously, if your unconscious has a different agenda, it will win out every time. My hope is that we can all stop bullying ourselves through ridiculous spiritual gymnastics… affirmation, positive thinking and visualisation abuse is a real thing!
Break it down
We are all impatient with ourselves when it comes to our version of a successful life. We overestimate what we can achieve in a short space of time and set ridiculously high standards as a result, but we underestimate what we can achieve through consistent and planned action over a longer time span.
So, let’s use a random financial goal as an example. You’d like to achieve a net worth of R1 million in two years. Multiply that by three and give yourself six years. Now write down the specific actions you think you need to take to achieve that goal. Just let the ideas flow and, remember not to get caught up in the “hows”. Perhaps the steps involve getting more financially savvy, finding a mentor or a peer group, investigating your inherited money beliefs, getting yourself out of debt or starting your own business… whatever these steps are, write them down, and then break them down further, until you have baby steps.
Be generous with allowing yourself plenty of downtime – rest time and “percolating” time. And mark these times in – don’t just assume them. It’s no co-incidence that Newton came up with the Law of Gravity when parked on his posterior under an apple tree. Darwin was said to have only worked 4 hours a day, because inspiration is known to show up when we’re jigging around doing “nothing”.
Write it down. Get yourself a planner and write in your yearly, monthly and weekly actions and steps. This is the fodder for your daily to-do lists, your baby steps. Allow space for change and synchronicity. Be adaptable and flexible with the details as they will likely change over the course of time. That’s alright.
Saturn (our work in the world and our fears around that) moved out of Sagittarius in December 2017, where for the last two and half years he challenged us to get real about our visions, and take responsibility for what we desire. He is now in Capricorn, his own sign, where he will stay for the next two and half years. Regardless of where Saturn is in our natal astrology charts, his current stay in Capricorn is, for all of us, about slow and steady growth. It’s manifestation time. This is the energy in which we can bring our dreams down to earth, manifest them in physical reality, and we do this by taking one step at at time. Perhaps you’ve felt this grounding energy that’s asking us all to take responsibility for doing the work, creating the dream… a feeling that this is your time, and you’re ready for the next step.
Allow support and assistance
Militant self-sufficiency. This aptly describes the state many of us exist within. Perhaps we were shamed for not knowing the right answer as a child, perhaps we were made to feel foolish for asking for help… whatever the cause, the inability to ask for, accept and notice assistance only hinders us and deprives the world of our talents and contribution. Underlying all militant self-sufficiency is the fear of vulnerability. Humility and the ability to be vulnerable are prerequisites for growth and transformation.
Love, money and health are our greatest catalysts for learning. They are portals through which we get to experience transformation and evolution. We all get to deal with them, everyday, whether we want to or not. Whether its our relationship to our partner, our money or our body that is taking centre stage, we are being transformed. It is up to us to co-operate with or resist the inevitable transformation.
The call to allow support and assistance isn’t always a feel good thing. Sometimes assistance comes in the form of a slap round the head, a wake up call. I believe that everything and everyone is always serving me in the most efficient manner to achieve my highest potential. That doesn’t mean I always like how that’s happening. Asking questions such as “Who is this situation asking me to become?”, “What qualities do I need to develop to resolve this?” or “What is the person asking me to love within myself right now?” helps me to gain clarity on how I am being supported. If we want to know who our teacher is, we just need to look at what’s in front of us, right now. Who or what is standing there?
More love, not less
I love this phrase from Matt Kahn, a beloved spiritual teacher. This third step of action and implementation requires huge dollops of self-love and acceptance. We are being asked to believe in ourselves and trust ourselves as never before. As we step into the unknown we need, more than anything else, our own loving presence to keep us feeling safe.
Action takes many forms and sometimes the best action is taking a nap. Go gently, easily and kindly with yourself, remembering that you are a rock star simply because you got out of bed this morning (or not!). We are mesmerised by the big and the grandiose, but it’s the small, daily steps we take that require real courage. It takes courage to show up. Chopping wood and carrying water, or simply braving the supermarket… these are the momentous acts and we thrive on our own daily acknowledgement of them.
As Matt Kahn says, on bad days, I am so proud when I can acknowledge my “rock-starness” in something as basic as walking across the room without falling down! These are the days we all need more love… not less.
Perhaps the kernel of Step Three is the realisation that it’s all a process. We show our greatest courage by picking ourselves up off the mat and beginning again when we fail or falter. I thought my intention of doing a 4 part blog series on manifesting had failed when I simply stopped writing a few months ago, halted in my tracks at the step I have always found the hardest. What I see now is that I was re-visiting my step three blocks and pitfalls in technicolour, so that I could proceed with deeper understanding and self-compassion.
There’s a line from the film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that, for me, beautifully sums up this stage of being a master manifestor in training, when Sonny says, in his delightful way, “Everything will be alright in the end… and if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end”.