We are so uncomfortable in our own skin, that we don’t even know that we are uncomfortable in our own skin.
Speaking of skin, I don’t know if I’m alone here, but I have majorly struggled with my baby’s super-sensitive skin.
(More on our own discomfort in a second. This story is relevant – promise.)
First, it was the cradle cap (which is really just eczema) in month-one of my daughter’s life on this planet. Then, she developed dry skin on the back of her arms during month-two of being here. And, starting in month-three and up until today, which is roughly month-twenty-three, she’s had near-constant diaper rash.
I’ve gotten rid of this diaper rash at least fifty times through various concoctions.
It always comes back within one week.
She’s even leaving diapers behind and wearing underwear these days. Yet, the diaper rash somehow is only getting worse.
The war against diaper rash goes on with no end in sight.
During yet-another Google search to find a magical diaper rash cure, one man, “JockItch3000,” posted to a forum online that he, too, had a stubborn rash. It lasted for years.
No matter what treatment he tried, his personal rash came back. Until, JockItch3000 radically changed his diet and became a vegan.
Then, the rash cleared up on its own.
JockItch3000 believes that the rash was not the problem, but a symptom of a problem. He thinks his diet healed an “internal imbalance” in his digestive system. And when he corrected the actual problem, his internal imbalance by changing his diet, the symptom, this rash, disappeared.
Which brings me back to our own discomfort. Our own virtual “jock itch,” if you will.
We are so uncomfortable in our skins that we don’t even know we’re uncomfortable.
The symptom of our discomfort looks like our inability to stop moving. We must stay busy. We believe that our busy-ness is due to the large amount of things-to-do on our to-do lists. We see that we have responsibility to our work, to our personal commitments, to our families, and to other social obligations that keep us running and running.
Some of us lean the other direction and rather than over-doing, we under-do. The under-doers check out in front of the TV, at the bar most nights, or in a bag of salty crunchiness.
Rather than finding a more efficient mode of shuttling our children, errands or obligations around, or a way to get motivated, we can identify our symptoms as not the real problem. We can go beneath these surface symptoms.
We can delve straight to the root of the real issue:
We don’t know how to be here.
We don’t feel at home or safe in our bodies because we don’t know how to find safety or what safety is supposed to feel like.
We don’t need a trip to the Container Store to organize our lives. We need to learn how to have better lives. Then, we wouldn’t want so desperately to not be here for them.
Just like Amelie’s rashiness is just a symptom trying to communicate that something’s off on the inside, our chronic movement is the rashiness of our own internal imbalance. Something is off in our insides.
But, it doesn’t have to be.
Ask yourself these four questions to begin to unravel this internal imbalance, connect to your body and learn how to be here.
#1. What are we scared to feel?
Often, fear of feeling keeps us from sitting in one place long enough to … well, feel. The problem with this strategy is that our feelings have to come out. And so if we don’t feel them and let them go, our feelings come out in our back pain, that irrational outburst at a friend, the hyper-vigilant control of our spouse.
So we have two choices: feel the uncomfortable feeling and be done, or run from the uncomfortable feeling and develop a rash (literally, or figuratively like chronic snacking when we’re not hungry to avoid the feeling).
And when we choose to feel the feeling, we choose to learn what it feels like to be here.
#2. Where are we undernourished?
There are a finite number of needs that we humans must meet for ourselves:
- We need some level of certainty and comfort in our lives – safety, assurance and predictability.
- We also need some uncertainty or variety, unpredictability, to help us to continue to get stronger and build muscle.
- We all need to feel significant, important, special, unique, or needed.
- We all need to give and receive love and to feel connection.
- We need to find a way to experience personal growth.
- And we all need to feel a sense of contribution with our lives.
When we are not honoring any need on this list sufficiently, we feel undernourished. Anemic. And because most of these needs are not a priority for most of us, if we’re being honest, we’re usually undernourished in more than one area.
Looking only at this list of needs, where are you feeling most undernourished? What need do you most often fulfill?
And which need feels more like truly showing up in your body, right here?
#3. Where are we settling for mere survival instead of daring for thriving?
I’m working on a program called the Yoga of Eating (shh! it’s under-wraps, at this point – more to come, soon).
The Yoga of Eating is a method we can use to guide how we eat, what we eat and when we eat, so that we can enjoy food effortlessly, and ultimately feel comfortable in our own skin.
The first step in the Yoga of Eating is to ask, is it good? Is the food I’m contemplating eating good food that I want to put in my body? Does everything about this food, and how I’m going to eat it feel good, abundant?
You know what’s awesome about this question? It nails us. Every time.
You know how you’re constantly eating lunch standing up in your kitchen or quickly in your car? Or how you stuff a sandwich into your body between meetings. Or, how you eat leftovers in front of your computer while you check your email. Eating like that is not good. It does not feel abundant.
When we eat in the manner that’s quick and easy, what are telling us about ourselves? About how important we are?
When we eat like it’s pure inconvenience, this is survival. We are not fully here.
When we eat food that’s good in a way that feels good, we dare to thrive. We find ourselves firmly planted right here.
#4. What true instincts do we resist trusting?
The well of self-doubt turns down and down and down.
There is no bottom.
When it comes to self-doubt, we simply must learn that it is a dead-end road. We must turn around, and swim to the surface to breath.
When we have an inclination that we second-guess, like a training we feel called to take but we second-guess if we “should” follow through and sign up for it because of the timing, the money, the commitment, we resist a true instinct through our self-doubt.
Self-doubt is an instinct-killer.
Another instinct-killer is disconnection. The difference between self-doubt and disconnection is that with self-doubt, we know the instinct. We just ignore it.
With disconnection, we can’t seem to find our inner guidance system, no matter how deeply within we search for it.
We don’t think we know what we want to do when we’re disconnected. In reality, we do know. We just slap blinders on and look to someone else, like a parent or another authority figure at work or in our social group or the church, to tell us what to do.
When we resist our true instinct, we are not here.