Gradual progress. It is not something I was born good at. My mum tells me that when I was little, my way of learning was storming right in, and thinking later. In her words: You ran headfirst into a wall, bounced back and then thought, hey, it is a wall. And then stopped to consider.”
I cannot say that way of being has not served me in the world. The words of Pippi Longstocking “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that” definitely apply to me. With some shadow grandiosity thrown in at times 😉 (which was more me masquerading my sudden bounce-back and realisation of “fuck, what did I get myself into?”, with “sure, I can absolutely do this..”)
I pulled off some major feats, always landed on my feet and had some crazy adventures in the process. Yet I also payed a price, which was less glamorous and exciting, and definitely more painful.
It was not until I started training Shaolin Kungfu some 10 years ago, that I found out that gradual progress is a skill. At first I thought: “that must be the most boring skill in the world. Why would anybody want to practise that?” Which is a clear indication of how addicted I was to ‘the ride’.
Sounds familiar? Workshop junkies anyone? Rushing from one intense love story to the next? Or not being able to sit still and do nothing?
It took me many years and fleshing out many threads to realise how aggresive I had been towards myself. How intense it had been on my nervous system to go from one extreme to the next. Because after the victory, I would inevitably crash. Hard. I have never had an official burn-out, but looking back I have definitely come close. I have also been depressed and totally over-extended myself.
In our world of flashiness, of deep dives and of intensity addiction, and most of all, of impatience with the process of learning and growing, what gets lost is that our beautiful, precious bodies need time to rest. To integrate. To learn at a pace.
We are used to surfing our stress hormones. We think we can uplevel in an intense tantra workshop, and forget that powerful energy work has an impact on the physical and emotional body. We by-pass the tenderness of stepping out into new territory. We equate intensity in relationship with love. Being in our comfort zone has almost become a thing to be a bit ashamed about.
These are just a few examples from my own life that have shown me – sometimes the hard way – that steps cannot be skipped.
If I go too fast I crash. And with the years I have become ever more attuned to my body and emotions, and my tolerance for pushing myself has become very low. I think that is a very good thing, yet there is still that sticky part of me that thinks: “damn, I wish I could go a bit faster”. The addiction runs deep.
Doing things step by step, in a gradual pace, is the kindest thing you can do in my world. First and foremost for yourself, and by extension for others too.
I am still learning this lesson. I might never get super good at it. Patience has never been my virtue. Yet I do think it is the only wise way forward that makes sense in the long run. So I practise.
Try it sometimes. Your adrenals will thank you. Your heart will thank you. Your body will thank you.
PS: these are some things that have helped me in this process: learning more about how the body and adrenal system work, taking a workshop-free year and looking at the impact that had on me (one was: delayed integration of many things I had learned!), understanding attachment theory and how it impacts my intimate relationships. For tips on resources, simply reach out.