Hello everybody, I’m Steve Nathenson, CEO and founder of Strive For More. Today I want to take some time to talk about a critical part about giving ourselves permission to be human. And the very first part of giving ourselves that permission, is accepting all of us, all parts of us. Well, what do I mean by that?
Throughout history and time, we’ve had different ways of describing the duality that lives within us, good or bad. If you’ve heard that story about two wolves inside of us, and which wolf are we going to feed is the one that wins, that dictates our nature. That’s what we’re talking about here.
But there’s a different characterization I want to put out there. Instead of saying good or bad, or positive or negative, I like to say serving and non-serving. What serves us, what doesn’t serve us.
The reason behind that for me is, when we think about, say this battered, negative part of us, it has this inherent connotation that it shouldn’t happen. We shouldn’t be that way. “Why am I continuing to be this way? Why can’t I change and get over this?” It can keep us down, keep us negative.
But instead, when I characterize something as say, non-serving, it’s soft. It’s not helpful. And that’s okay. “Okay, this doesn’t help me? Great. I can get over it. I can move past that. I can embrace what does serve me.” So for me, I use serving and non-serving as a way to describe our duality.
I’ll give you an example of this. Today when we talk about enlightenment, what I think of is what we see often in TV shows and in movies. Where we’ve got this picture of a monk walking down the street who’s happy- go-lucky, jolly. Nothing bugs them.
Even when people are complete jerks to them, they’re never angry. They never get upset. They always embrace and accept. It’s as if they’ve completely gotten rid of one part of them. This anger, this annoyance, that part of them seems to have disappeared.
Why I’m highlighting that is, today that’s what I think of when we talk about enlightenment, and I think it sends the wrong message. And the reason why is because, when we deny a part of who we are, it doesn’t just disappear. It actually gets very deep, and it festers.
And what happens when something festers? It eventually bubbles up to the surface and explodes.
So when we talk about being enlightened, when we talked about giving ourselves permission to be human and accepting all parts of us, I like to talk about doing just that. It’s okay that I have stuff that serves me, but guess what? It’s also that I have stuff that doesn’t serve me.
It’s a natural part of who I am. And instead of trying to bury it down deep, or deny that part of me that can turn into something detrimental later down the road, if I accept all parts of me, then it actually alleviates that stress, that tension, and that feeling of being off that comes with trying to deny part of who we are.
An example of that is, let’s say we have a friend. And maybe this friend likes to tap their fingers on the table, and we say nothing about it, but it gets on our nerves.
Maybe it goes by, we continue to not say anything, until one day, potentially we’ve just had enough in that day that’s already gotten our goat, that we’d go out to dinner with that friend. They’re tapping their fingers on the table.
And we explode. We yell at them. We bite their head off, seemingly out of nowhere. And it’s because we’ve taken what we did not like, what was annoying, buried it down deep trying to deny it, versus addressing it earlier.
That’s the exact same thing that happens when we try to bury what we don’t like about ourselves, what we wish was different. There’s a lot of things out there today that say, “Well, suck it up. Get over it. Toughen up.”
But what happens when we embrace that, it gets rid of that component within us at least on the surface, but it allows it to continue to fester deep underneath of it. Because we’re actually denying a part of who we are instead of embracing it.
Another prime example. Let’s say I’m running the end of a race. And at the end of this race, there’s what’s called, the chute, right? There’s spectators lined up along the fences. The finish line is right there in sight.
At that point, if I’m pushing, and I’m trying to, say, beat the person next to me, I could say, “Toughen up. Suck it up. Get over it. Get over the pain.” But instead, I can embrace, “You know what? This is a taxing effort. I am pushing my body. I’m pushing my mind.”
And instead of trying to bury that pain deep and say, “Get over it, toughen it up, suck it up.” I can embrace what I actually want. What I want is to beat that person next to me. What I want is to dig deeper. What I want is to shift into that extra gear, to go a little bit faster, to cross that line first.
That’s what I want. And that’s a more positive experience. Because when we focus on actually what we want, what we desire, that actually activates a nervous system in our body, that’s going to uplift us. Versus focusing on the problem, say the pain.
When I say, “Suck it up,” or “Get over it,” I’m still focused on that pain. I’m not actually focused on what I want to achieve. I’m focused on trying to deny that pain, get over that hurdle, speak to that problem. That activates a different nervous system in our body. When we focus on that problem, it actually keeps us down.
So in the moments when we want to face both parts of us, it’s easier to embrace. “Yeah, you know what? My legs are hurting right now. Guess what? That’s okay. Because I am going as fast as I can, seemingly, at the moment. But I know I need to push a little bit harder and I need to focus on what it is that I want to achieve.”
And when I focus on that part, I’m actually inherently embracing that, “You know what? I have this duality. I have this pain that I’m feeling in my legs, and that’s okay. Because I know it is temporary, and I know it’s going to get me to the finish line. And I know what I want, and what’s going to come of it when I do push that little bit and I beat that person next to me.”
That impact on me, that positivity, that duality that we see in that moment, that’s what we’re really truly talking about. Instead of trying to deny that pain and push it down deep, if I embrace it, and I also recognize that I can embrace what is going to help me, what’s going to serve me, it is so much stronger.
Let’s back up for a moment. And let’s also use a running race as an example. When I focus on my pace, and I focus on, “Oh, I have to hit a 7:15, Or I have to hit a 6:45, or I have to hit 8:30, or a 9, whatever it is for us.
When I’m constantly checking in on that and seeing if I’m on that pace or not, and then getting upset at myself because I’m maybe off that pace, I am ultimately going to drain myself through that race much, much more than if I go by feel.
If I embrace what I want. If I alleviate checking my watch every five seconds. Because I am actually focused on ultimately what I want to achieve, what I want out of that race. The positivity of it, versus forcing and boxing myself into this pace. “Why am I not there? Why am I not on this? I have to push a little bit harder.”
That mentality, that non-serving mentality, keeps us down and it drains us. It’s just like the pursuit of perfection. Perfection is something that’s elusive.
We aren’t perfect as human beings, and that’s okay. Because we have this duality. We make mistakes. We have regrets. We do things that maybe we would have liked to have done better, or we missed the mark on it. That’s okay.
And the beauty of it there is, if we never had those experiences, we never would have learned anything in our lives. We never would have had experiences that taught us something, that helped us get to that next level. That pushed us, made us strive for more.
But if I focus on, “I have to be perfect. I have to hit this pace.” I am going to keep myself in what does not serve me. And it’s going to mentally tax me. It’s going to mentally drain me. And it is not going to serve me in the long run, because I’m focused on the negativity, the things that are quote/unquote, “Bad.” The things that keep me down and activate the wrong nervous system in our body.
We don’t want to activate the sympathetic nervous system. We want to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. That’s the one that uplifts us, and keeps us up, and keeps us going and focused on the goal, and makes it seemingly achievable. Because it is achievable, and it is possible.
When I embrace that I have this duality, in the moment when I am faced… Jude agrees. With what doesn’t serve us, I can truly alleviate that stress, that tension, this negativity, this downward spiral that we’re talking about when I get caught up in that non-serving. Because I embrace that it is a part of me, and that’s okay. Because I am capable of using the part of me that does serve me to achieve what I want to do.
So what I want to leave you with today is, it is okay to have both parts of us. It is naturally who we are, and you’re not alone in that. It’s called being a human being.
And it’s our right to accept that I’m not perfect. It’s okay to accept that I have non-serving and serving parts. Because when I do, it allows me to more easily deal with the non-serving when it comes up. To alleviate the stress, the pressure, and the tension that comes with that, and embrace what does serve me.
So today I’ll leave you with a thought about how to start unearthing this, how to start bringing awareness around this. What feelings, what thoughts, what behaviors do you have that aren’t serving?
Is it, say, the dinner table? When the check comes, “Oh I’m not good at math. I can’t do that. I can’t calculate the tip. I’m just going to pass that off.” Is it public speaking? “Oh, I could never do that. They’re going to make fun of me. People are going to see me and the stutter…”
It’s okay. These are things that we can say to ourselves that psych ourselves out. That type of fear is what we’re talking about here.
What is it that doesn’t serve you? Is it that fear of, maybe they’re going to catch me stuttering. Maybe they’re going to catch me pausing or saying “Um” all the time. Is it, “I don’t want to calculate that tip wrong at dinner.” What is it feeling, thought, and behavior-wise that doesn’t serve you. Because when we know that, and we bring awareness around it, it’s much easier in that moment to do the seeing.
Coming up, in the next series of episodes and videos, I’m going to be diving deeply into the remaining parts of giving ourselves permission to be human, just like I did today. So I hope you enjoyed today. I look forward to speaking with you again soon. And until then, be the movement in your life.
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