Last weekend I was out having fun when suddenly something strange happened:
One of my friends was massaging my neck and shoulders and told me something “seriously wrong” was stuck in there, and it gave her a really bad feeling.
I felt perfectly fine though. In fact I felt very relaxed. So I told her not to worry, but she kept trying to fix it. She didn’t know what it was, only that it was really not okay.
We kind of ignored it after that, as I felt fine and didn’t really see the point. But at the end of the night she stopped to tell me the same thing. This time though, I could tell she was on to something.
I felt great, but every time she touched certain parts of my body I could feel a little hint of sadness coming up. I already had some prior knowledge of how emotions and stress can be stored as “tightness” in certain places in the body, so I started to believe her now.
She told me to sit down and tell her what was going on. Truth be told I had no idea. I generally felt great. There were some “problems” in my life but they didn’t really make me feel bad. In fact, they motivated me and felt more like fun challenges.
I started to think really hard what it could be until I could come up with some petty problems, but she immediately dismissed them and told me it had to be something deeper.
I genuinely couldn’t think of anything that could possibly make me feel bad, so I told her to look into my eyes as long as she could while I would “let her in” and show her everything that I am. This way she could find out for herself. If that sounds too “hippie” for you, now’s your time to click that little red cross in the right corner. Because things will probably get a lot weirder later in this post 😉
She said all she saw was a wall. Which is kinda weird, because I am almost an open book to most people I'm close with.
I told her to look again while I would mentally focus on “bringing that wall down for her”.
She didn’t get very far before another wall hit her, but before that all she could see was a lot of sadness and pain.
The rest of that moment is not very important for this post, but she didn't give up, and while it actually only showed me I still carried around a lot of pain, it was one of the most loving things I ever experienced. At the end of night I couldn’t get some of the things she told me out of my head:
• “You are extremely honest and open to everyone you know, even people you don’t know. But I think it’s time for you to also become honest to yourself.”
• “If you break down that wall –and I know you will- . You will do things with your life that are 3000 times better than you can imagine.”
• “I think you need to spend at least 2 days in isolation to figure out what this all means.”
If you’re reading this, way to ruin a perfectly good party, woman 😉
Just kidding. It was amazing, thank you!
I’m all for trying out things I haven't done before, when the weekend ended I spent 48 hours in isolation.
Don’t worry I’m not talking about the kind of isolation you see in movies about psychiatric wards. You know, those places where they put relatively sane people until they are completely insane and have to stay in there forever? 😉 Come to think of it, that’s a genius business model for generating loyal customers! I'm on to you guys...
Instead, I just made a few rules for myself that during the next 48 hours I would:
• Turn off my phone and internet connection
• Have no real-life contact with people unless accidentally
• Not listen to music. AKA spend two full days in complete silence unless I got inspired and wanted to create music myself.
• Fast until the evening
• Eat nothing but raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
• Not do any work, studying or practicing of skills
I basically spent these 48 hours just sitting around and observing my feelings or thoughts, going for walks, meditating and doing calisthenics workouts. I guess you could call it “just monking around” .
During these 2 days, there was one thing I tried after a friend recommended it to me, that had such an impact on me that I’d encourage everyone to do it at least once. Especially you 😉
Is what I’m about to share with you frikkin’ weird?
Maybe, but it’s also frikkin’ beneficial, so that shouldn’t stop you from trying it 😉
The Mirror Exercise
The concept of this exercise is actually pretty simple. You sit or stand naked in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye for 2 hours without looking away.
That’s right. 2 hours. I have to admit I’m usually the type of guy who, after reading this, would immediately say “Fuck you! Do you know what I can do with those 2 hours? I’ll tell you this. Whatever I’d do would be a lot more productive than staring at yourself until your eyes fall out.”
But I did it anyway. Because when you have 48 hours to spend being alone, spending two hours doing can’t hurt 😉 And I was also wrong, since it’s probably one of the most productive things I’ve ever done in my life.
What I basically tried to do was just to see the person in the mirror as someone other than me I was getting to know and do with them exactly as I told my friend from the start of this post to do with me. Look as deep in their eyes as I could and tell them everything I saw.
If you are going to try this, it’s important to mention that you have to do it with the right attitude. One of open-mindedness and sheer curiosity. You cannot judge anything you see or you will start to change what you see in your head. You can also not think, because when you think you will simply “come up with stuff that sounds true”. So you have to make sure your brain is completely “out” for two hours.
So yeah, for the next 2 hours I started talking to myself in the mirror. Maybe they actually should’ve put me in isolation 😉 Now that I think about, I could use a free apartment 🙂
Quite the opposite of what I expected, “not thinking” actually proved to be very easy. My mind started to see my “mirror self” as another person very quickly. And because I was talking out loud, it never really knew when it was me talking to “mirror self” or “mirror self” talking to me (if you can still follow 😉 ). So the words came automatically without thinking about them, as they do when you’re having a conversation with a good friend.
This is a great side-effect because it causes you to be super honest. You tell “yourself” stuff you usually don’t admit to yourself. (Dammit, this is getting complicated to explain :-p)
I recorded the whole conversation and transcribed it the next day so I could re-read all the insights I had gotten about myself. Since it is 21 pages long and contains a lot about my relationships with other people as well, I’m not going to put it in this post. But I will share some of what happened to give you an idea of what you can expect and how this exercise can be helpful.
Surprisingly, just like my friend, the first thing I saw in my own eyes was a wall. I also couldn’t get past it at first, just like her. I literally had to win my own trust first and then talk myself in allowing it to come down.
I’ll tell you how to do that in a minute. First you might be wondering: Why would you want that wall to come down?
Lots of people build walls around themselves for a good reason. They’ve simply been hurt too many times in the past and don’t want that to happen again. So a wall seems like a sensible and effective solution. Don’t tell that to Trump though 😉
Why would you ever want that wall to come down then?
Because you see, I learned something from my mirror self (apparently he’s a pretty smart guy, and also pretty handsome 😉 ):
A wall is a wall. And a wall does not discriminate.
It does a great job of keeping all that potential new hurt out. But it also keeps the love out.
And even worse, a wall works in 2 directions. So that means it also keeps the old pain IN.
So you may have built a wall to keep out all the backstabbers and asshole boyfriends, but at the same time you have a wounded heart on one side of the wall and thousands of sexy nurses on the other side who can’t reach it. So it will never heal as long as you have the wall. And let me tell you, they are really sexy 😉
Okay so since the choice between lots of sexy nurses and a heart slowly bleeding to death seems like an easy one to make: How do you get it down?
This is actually kind of counterintuitive but you can’t get it down by trying to destroy it. That will only strengthen its defense. If you think about it that’s pretty logical, just look at this classic 20 second video:
So instead of trying to attack it, you talk to the wall. Don’t worry, that’s not weird. I mean, you’ve already been talking to a mirror right now so a wall is just taking it a very small step further 😉 Now when you’re talking, you befriend it, earn its trust and influence it into breaking down itself.
No, that is NOT manipulative. It’s a frikkin’ wall, walls don’t have feelings, you fool 😉
So in my case I told it something like this:
“I want to thank whoever created this wall (probably me), for being there for me and protecting me. It has helped me a lot in the past. If it hadn’t been there, my life would’ve been a million times worse than it has been until now. The problem is that right now my life really isn’t that bad compared to how it used to be. Al the really bad things are gone. In fact, the opposite of them is often true.
So what’s happening now is that there’s a lot of good people trying to get in (remember those sexy nurses, you can use those in convincing your wall 😉 ) who can’t get past it. Because of that, it's a bit inconvenient that it’s still there when there’s no more need for it. I’m not trying to bash your strategy or anything, I’m just saying, we both have the same goals. And this wall, while it was useful in the past is now kinda standing in the way of reaching those. We cool?”
This approach worked wonders. And it also makes sense. Your mind and emotions are trying to act in your best interest. It’s just that they sometimes need a reminder when an outdated system they are currently cling onto are don’t really serve those interests anymore.
You know, kinda like our entire society 😉
Healing a Different Kind of Trauma
As soon as that first wall came down (which was rather quickly, apparently I’m a good influencer), I now started to see layer after layer of my own personality in my eyes. Sometimes negative, sometimes (very), positive, sometimes x-rated, or even stuff I had completely forgotten about.
Now and then I kept running into new walls deeper inside me in the form of strong resistance.
Almost always when I managed to get past one of these, I discovered some trauma that I needed to come to terms with.
There was something interesting about these though. They were different from “regular” traumas. I don’t know if there’s a correct psychological term for it. But I would call them “internal traumatic experiences” instead of “external traumatic experiences”.
What I mean is:
I suffered a lot of external trauma at a young age, mainly through different forms of abuse. But I had already come to terms with most of those things. While I sometimes ran into some emotions or beliefs that I can trace back to those things, the experiences itself were something I had already processed, so I never ran into any major “traumas” like that during this mirror exercise.
The traumas I ran into here were of an entirely different kind. They were things that I had done to myself and never acknowledged. I’m going to give you just one example of many to show this:
Though I used to abuse alcohol and drugs for a long time I never experienced it as something negative. It was always fun. Just something I’ve grown out of now that I’m having just as much fun (if not more) being sober.
But after an especially hard wall to penetrate, I ran into this emotion:
I came into this world with an attitude of pure fun, creative energy and adventure. And I wanted to spread that positive feeling and share it with everyone I met. But I never got the chance to do that because instead of accepting that feeling, they beat me down, abused me and hurt me while authority figures forbade me to have fun or learn and turned a blind eye to the people who did terrible things.
This made me extremely pissed off at the entire world because it could all be so simple, but for some reason (I believed) everyone else preferred hurt and misery over having fun together.
I now had all this positive energy in me that I couldn't let out anywhere, and subconsciously told myself “Okay, if you all won’t allow me to do anything creative or constructive, I’m going to get destructive with it and destroy everyone.” But of course I didn’t do that. I had way too much love in me to do that.
So I started destroying myself. Just like other people had done to me before.
This was a really big one. It really hurt me to realize it and I’m not super comfortable with sharing it actually, but it’s to illustrate what I want to make clear here.
There is a distinction between external trauma (things that happened to you) and internal trauma (things you did to yourself). And the second kind you are probably not aware of because your mind is very good at hiding those things.
I literally had NO idea this was something that had gone on in my mind at some point. Not the slightest clue. I never felt bad about my drinking behavior. And there was a lot of other stuff as well, but the good thing is:
Every time something like this came up. All it took to come to terms with that trauma was to simply let the hurt sink in for a minute and acknowledge that happened. Then it just “clicked” in my head and I could feel something had changed in me that made me more happy.
I look at this process now as re-integrating lost parts of your personality”. Like putting a new piece in a puzzle and suddenly seeing things more clearly. It makes you feel good.
So if you’re not convinced yet, here’s three more reasons why you should do this mirror exercise:
#1. I’m already an extremely self-aware guy, but I had NO idea about stuff like this. I already felt good before this exercise. I just felt a thousand times better afterwards. That means whoever you are, it’s pretty certain you have stuff like that too. And the beauty of it is that they fix themselves almost automatically. Seriously, the only reason why you shouldn’t do this is because you’re not interested in happiness. Are you?
#2. It’s cheaper than therapy.
#3. It’s yourself you're talking too, probably easier to trust than any therapist 😉
Losing My (Non-)Religion
One very weird thing that happened was this. Since I was maintaining such an open and non-judgmental attitude towards “him”, my mirror-self taught me all kinds of crazy spiritual stuff. Looking through the entire conversation I found explanations for:
• The meaning of the different people in our lives (including the ones we don’t get along with)
• The illusion of existential loneliness
• What "oneness" means
• What reincarnation really is (not what people think it is and it has nothing to do with an afterlife)
• How karma really works (not how people think it works)
• The importance of being unashamed of our sexuality
• The meaning of life (really)
• The entire universe
• … (lots of stuff if that wasn’t enough)
There wasn’t a “god (lowercase)” involved in ANY of these things, and a lot of these ideas were actually pretty scientific or at least ground grounded.
I was actually kind of surprised that I found all these answers in a conversation with myself. I genuinely despise religion of the organized kind. I don’t even buy into any of the “pro” arguments like that it gives people “hope” or “something to hold on to”. Fuck that, I think the whole concept of religion is so 2015. B.C. 😉
Why in the world would you believe something said by an invisible person in the sky, or by a prophet who you cannot even verify ever lived or even spoke those words. Seriously, if you buy into that crap but at the same time don’t believe in Santa Claus, who is definitely real, then what is wrong with you? 😀
These things only started to come up much later in the “session” though. I’m also convinced that I don’t have to share them because if you do this exercise yourself you can probably find your own truth as well. Maybe it’s universal and it’s the same as mine, maybe it isn’t. But it’s sure fun to find some answers to questions people have been asking for centuries without having to suck some holy priest’s fudge-sickle to get them. Unless you're really into priests of course. I'm not judging.
Did I ever tell you I'm a priest in my spare-time?
Why am I sharing this? Because I’ve never felt so amazing and complete as I did by the end of those two days.
I felt on top of the world, kinesphere as big as a house, so much self-loving swagger that I was starting to doubt if it was still legal. Who wouldn't want that 😉
I’ve even sent the whole conversation to someone and apparently it helped her come to terms with a lot of things about herself as well.
I know for a lot of people this might fall into the category of “weird” and “woo-woo”, but I’m still sharing it because I really believe you should do this mirror thing at least once in your life. And if you’re not interested, maybe consider the fact that that’s actually a “wall” talking.
I don’t know, a 2-hour investment with the immediate becoming 10 times happier than you were before does seem worthwhile, doesn’t it?
And by the way, since you’ll already doomed spend the rest of your life with yourself. Why not get to know her a little better? 😉
Seriously. What’s the worst that can happen?
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