It’s interesting when something happens that makes you look at your life completely differently. Like you make some huge cosmic connection that explains something about yourself in a way you’d never thought of before. I’ve been having a lot of those moments lately.
The first one came after a recent yoga class. I struggle with balancing poses in yoga. I’ve gotten better over time, but it’s definitely a great challenge for me. So after class the other day, I was sipping a coffee and mentioning my balance issue to a friend. As I verbalized it, something became shockingly clear to me. “I have no balance,” I said. Then I started to laugh. My friend was perplexed. “What’s so funny?” she asked. “I have no balance,” I reiterated. “It all makes sense to me now.”
You see ever since I was a kid I’ve been an extremist. I shift from utter elation to absolute despair in under three seconds. I go from having 100% confidence in myself to thinking I’m a complete imbecile all within the time it takes to walk from my office to my bedroom. I morph from fun, happy fulfilled mommy to Joan Crawford impersonator over a shattered bottle of apple juice on the kitchen floor. I have no balance emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. I’m either up or I’m down, and I’ve come to believe that’s just the way I was drawn.
Today I had another ah-hah moment. I was at the chiropractor and I was wearing running shorts. He looked at my legs and inquired, “Have you always bruised easily?”
“As far back as I can remember,” I said and then I thought about adding, “I’m very sensitive.” But I didn’t need to say that out loud. I just realized, again, that my physical life was merely a manifestation of my internal psyche. I am way over sensitive. I bruise easily. I can hear my father lamenting this when I was just a young girl. “Don’t take everything so personally,” he’d plead. “Don’t be so sensitive all the time.” Well, of course, I bruise easily. I’m thin-skinned. I feel responsible for every wrong in the world and as hard as I try to toughen up, I never seem to have much success. I bruise easily.
These realizations don’t necessarily help me resolve my issues. But they are kind of fascinating observations, and once you start noticing them, they appear everywhere. For example, I’m tall, about 5 feet 10 inches, so I often see over people’s heads, which gives me a broad view of the world. I’m not good with details and have always been labeled a big picture person. In my current state of awareness, I can’t help but see this as another physical indication of my internal being. If you are always “overseeing” others, you tend to focus on the bigger picture rather than the acute details of a situation.
The question for me now is how to apply this knowledge to my own life and my children’s lives. They, too, reveal their spiritual truths through physical characteristics. My eldest son is already 6 feet 5 inches at 15 years old. He’s a masterful, creative, big-picture thinker. Maybe that’s in part due to his ability to observe the world unobstructed and view things from a higher vantage point. His long arms and legs give him the ability to reach heights others cannot; to grasp higher concepts and challenge limited boundaries.
My younger son loves to laugh. He can amuse himself with a single action figure for hours. He has laser-like focus and can stick to a task he’s enjoying for what feels like an eternity. His imagination is unrivaled. He was born blind and later developed sight, thankfully. He was diagnosed with delayed visual maturation. We don’t know anything about why it happened or how his sight magically began to emerge around his eighth month. But I believe that his unique ability to live within his own imagination has something to do with his early inability to see outside himself. He learned to focus internally because, for the first few months of his life, he couldn’t see anywhere beyond his own mind.
I have learned about who I am and what I’m capable of by examining my limitations; physical, emotional and spiritual. I bruise easily. I am tender. I lack balance. I am volatile. I can also learn about my children by paying attention to their physical and emotional attributes and challenges.
I have heard it said that buildings in earthquake-prone areas are often retrofitted to accommodate seismic activity. Welded steel frames can be brittle and break when confronted with earth-shaking activity. But adding new fiber-reinforced polymers, high-strength steel and reinforced concrete allow buildings to move and sway so that they don’t collapse when the earth shakes.
Understanding our innate strengths and weaknesses is the first step towards self-retrofitting. We, too, must develop strength and flexibility so that we don’t blow over in strong winds or collapse with each earthshaking life event. Teaching our kids to acknowledge their own inherent talents and traits and reinforcing those areas in which they are lacking provides them with the inner strength needed to sway gently in high winds and stand firmly during life’s inevitable displays of inclement weather.
Debra Rich Gettleman is a mother and blogger based in the Phoenix area. For more of her work, visit unmotherlyinsights.com.