(with credit & apologies to Havi Bell)
On a warm May evening eight years ago, or was it only seven, a friend of mine and I sat in my car in the driveway, engine off, and ran through what appeared to be her options to get out of a sticky situation. Well, I ran through the options; she batted each one of them away as too difficult, to painful, impossible. She was hurting and I was frustrated with the mess she found herself in and had no clue how talking to me was going to help her out. There are some issues, alas, which each of us must confront on our own: pistols-at-dawn and the responsibility rests on our shoulders alone. My feelings, my insights on her situation came from a place of compassion within me but, because they were mine, they did not resonate with her.
And in that car, I had a small flash, an insight both timely and useful–a rare combination, really. I asked her: “What would the person you would like to be do in this situation?” I thought maybe that question might sneak around all of the roadblocks she had constructed between herself and the solution (whatever it was) to her situation. Your best version of yourself, that image you have of yourself, dappled in sunshine, looking strong and capable and happy–SHE would know what to do here. She would behave with sovereignty and clarity, owning her decision and completely capable of managing the consequences. Why not talk to her??
It is easier to give someone unsolicited advice than to take it yourself. And I know there have been many occasions in the intervening years where I should have stopped tying myself in knots and had a conversation with the competent and sovereign version of myself. Frequently, I tied myself in knots and only came back to the realization of my own flexibility and control over my happiness with help from others.
But I am trying to listen to that version of ideal me now, and doing it consciously. Havi Brooks, who writes about “unstuckness” and yoga and shiva nata at www.fluentself.com, talks about this process, as well. She calls it talking to “incoming me” and she goes to her future, more knowledgable self for prompts, advice, and clarity on issues that are vexing her in the now. This makes sense to me, though it sounds quirky. In order to bypass that bitchy, nasty voice in your head that reminds you of everthing you’ve ruined, every mistake you’ve made, you might need to get in touch with a part of yourself that is beyond that and at peace.
Of course, there is a danger that I might be expecting too much from “incoming me,” “future me,” “idealized me.” And maybe that is why Havi talks about “incoming,” reminding herself that this YOU is always in process, always developing. There is no “future” or “ideal” to attain, because in that future moment, another “incoming me” will be in the wings, waiting to pull back the curtain and get new things in motion.
Right now I am hoping that incoming me has clarity on a few things–things related to space and shelter, things related to words and creativity, things related to the relationship between body and mind. That’s a lot to ask of her, maybe I’ll start slowly.