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This is a concept that I think a lot of people know but cannot articulate. I've decided to write this in order to assist people in their healing and understanding of life.
First of all, I have to give credit to my number one role model, my idol, and one of my biggest teachers, Iyanla Vanzant. This woman is the source of my inspiration in the field and her words have taught me so much about life, healing, and general progression. In Peace From Broken Pieces, she writes:
"Very often we claim to know something. We get an idea about what to do or not do, yet, for some reason, our behavior doesn't change. At times, we just can't seem to do what we know. This is known as mental healing. Something has shifted in your thinking, but it has not reach[ed] the other levels of your being-the heart and the spirit. Mental healing occurs quite often, and it is not a complete healing. It is not enough to shift or change the long-standing influence of an inherited pathology or way of being. In order to change your response to a pathological form of behavior, healing must take place on three levels of being-intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Not until this level of healing has occurred will your behavior change."
Miss Iyanla briefly describes three types of healing, but she doesn't go into detail too much about what the differences are or how to identify them. I'd like to explain what I believe to be true about the three levels of healing, which go hand-in-hand with the different levels of knowing as well as the levels of change in motivation psychology.
The Three Types of Healing
As Miss Iyanla stated, mental healing occurs when we know something to be true in our logical minds, but still can't change our behavior. The information hasn't sunk into your heart and given you the kick in the behind yet; you're not feeling inspired and motivated toward change. You may feel stuck, ambivalent, or afraid of the new. You may feel uncomfortable due to the uncertainty that lies with change. For example, you may know that a certain habit, job, or relationship is unhealthy, but it hasn't set in deep enough to motivate you out of it. You may be saying things like "Yeah, I know, I really need to start... (exercising, eating better, looking for a new job, etc.)" However, no hard plans are really set in this phase. It's simply an idea with no structure. In motivation psychology, this stage is known as contemplation. Some people stay here for years. Others may move through the levels very quickly.
Emotional healing happens when the emotions surrounding the situation and/or the proposed changes are identified and processed so that they are no longer clouding what your logical brain is telling you. In order to achieve emotional healing, you must ask yourself things like, "If I know I need to change, why am I not taking the steps toward change? What is keeping me here?" Be silent for a few minutes and see what comes up. A lot of times, it's anxiety, fear, or guilt that's keeping you stagnant. Perhaps a previous experience with unresolved emotions is reminding you of what's happening right now and that's keeping you stuck. The best way to move through this is to look it in the face. If you're afraid, ask yourself "What am I really afraid of?" Change? Uncertainty? Failure? Then, ask yourself, "What's the absolute worst that can happen?" Most of the time, even the worst case scenario isn't nearly as bad as our brains are making them out to be. This exercise is so beneficial because it truly takes the power away and shows you that you truly can do this! Let your emotions come up. Feel them. Name them. Work through them and say and write combating affirmations such as "I welcome change with open arms. I'm growing. I'm expanding. I'm healing." Before long, you'll notice a huge change in your attitude and feelings toward the situation. The heaviness will lift and you may feel a surge of motivation and get excited about the upcoming changes. You may start thinking more concretely about the future and start laying down actual plans. This is known as preparation in psychology.
Spiritual healing happens when you go even deeper and look at how your spirit has been affected. Perhaps you've done some emotional healing, but you still just can't get any momentum going. Your plans are logical. You know what you need to do, and you're not afraid anymore. But, now you're frustrated because you just can't seem to put one foot in front of the other and make the changes you know will be so good for you. What gives?! The problem here is that there is still a deep wound in your soul. You may not feel that you are deserving of whatever change this is. Do you feel that you deserve to be happy and healthy? Do you feel that you're too broken or not good enough for this? Ask yourself the question and be still. Welcome whatever is holding you back into your awareness. At this point, any spiritual practice will heal you, as long as you are consistent with the practice and aware of the true problem. Meditation, prayer, affirmations, and yoga may be good starting places for those who are new to spirituality. I highly recommend Iyanla's "Ten Minute Daily Spiritual Practice." Once you are fully healed down to your core, you will move on to the action and maintenance stages of change effortlessly and with grace. Others' attempts to bring you down or criticize your changes will bounce right off of you because you know your truth down to your core. That is when you'll know you're truly clear.
Okay, but what do you mean "be still?!"
To anyone who is new to spirituality, you probably are wondering what they heck I'm talking about. When we listen, we are listening inward, to our true selves. In case this sounds a little hokey for you, Eckhart Tolle does an excellent job breaking this down. He describes your true being as the space between breaths. This is where thoughts do not exist. Standards do not exist. Expectations do not exist. It just is. There is just a quiet knowing. Some people describe this as meditation, others describe it as prayer, others simply describe it as intuition. I believe that all of these titles are correct. Regardless of what you choose to title it, this is where you find spiritual knowing. This is your center. This is the place that knows the truth regardless of what society, other people, and even your own mind are telling yourself. If you commit to tapping into this place each day, even if it's for only a few minutes, you will get clear and you will feel confident and rejuvenated. All confusion will be lifted.
Put much more simply, the answer to every single life challenge is this: You already know everything that you need to know; you just don't have access to it because of all of the mental chatter and expectations that other people put on you. If you commit daily to connecting with this place, you will slowly find clarity. Now, it takes time and dedication. Most of the time, you won't become completely clear the first time you tap in. This practice is ongoing. It takes practice, patience, and dedication. But, if you are truly dedicated to this practice, you will find clarity.
How to Maintain it Once You Have it
Once you are grounded in your spirituality and you have found clarity, you must guard it with your life. If you do not, you will lose it. There is no maybe about it. You must actively maintain this knowing if you don't want to go back to the confusion and upset. There are four ways you can lose your center. These things will also prevent you from ever attaining it in the first place.
- Not living your truth. This is the number one mistake I see people make and I have done it, too. It is denial of the truth. You know that this relationship is bad for you. You know that you're drinking too much. You know this isn't the right choice, yet you carry on as if everything is fine. By doing this, you will slowly forget everything you know to be true. Before you know it, you don't know what's up and what's down. You're in total confusion and your life is a mess. Even the smallest of poor decisions are poison to your spirit and your clarity. Just as the journey of million miles begins with one step, the journey away from your center begins with one step.
- The second way piggybacks off of number one—allowing toxicity in your life. Even if you're not in denial about it, you make excuses. You say, "It's fine." You'd rather not rock the boat, so you just live with it. I am telling you from experience that this is a terrible choice. It is so much better to rock that boat and live your truth. Otherwise, you'll be living with so much regret and you'll have to backtrack in order to put your life back together!
- Being abused. Abusers are very very good at causing you to forget what you know. Abusers will convince you that whatever you know is false. Most of the time, this will be done so slowly you won't know it's happening. Their words are insidious. One of the most common ways is through sabotaging relationships. My mother always slowly convinced me that everyone in my life was bad in one way or another. She had convinced me that I was unable to make good, solid decisions even though she never said anything like this. She did it through very far-fetched conclusions and ignorant analyses of people. Any time I had a good, logical reason for valuing someone, the immediate response was "Yeah, but (insert the reason that this person is bad)," which slowly but surely broke down my confidence in my ability to discern healthy/positive/good from unhealthy/negative/bad. If a new relationship is causing you to lose trust in your spiritual practice, run like hell and do not look back.
- Getting lazy. This one is so easy. As Iyanla puts it, this is a "no excuse zone." Even if you are tired, busy, or depressed, do your spiritual practice! Every day! Do it! This place needs to be nurtured just like a plant. If you do not tap into this place regularly, you will lose it. It is 100 percent guaranteed.
Now that I've shared this bit of wisdom with everyone, I'd like some feedback, as this is my first time writing. I hate that it's not possible to get feedback on the site, so I'm going to go by the number of reads and tips I get. If people like me, I'm going to keep writing!
Thank you so much for reading and remember: The answer is waiting inside of you. It's already there. You just have to get out of the way and find it.
Be blessed and thank you so much for reading!