The Sway Bridge



(part 4 in a series on The Art of Letting Go, click here for part 1 or part 3)

In this test your dog is on one side of a sway bridge. You know the kind that always wobbles. Your dog tried one paw on the first step and decided it isn’t going to cross that bridge. It has its tail between its legs, it’s whimpering softly. It is your job to get the dog from one side to the other. You may not recognize the situation, but it is very common. For most of us, most of the time, our mind is standing on that one side, saying “I AM NOT brave enough to cross that bridge, I AM a loser!”, seemingly unable to go to the other side where you could say with proud “I AM brave, I crossed that bridge”.  I AM going to help you let go of your limiting inner-speech by teaching you how to cross that bridge step by step.

Your thoughts shape your words and your words shape your reality. Whatever you think about a subject, influences how you react to it and what you do about it. When you are used to thinking of yourself as a failure, you will think like a failure, talk like a failure and this way you will draw into your life the act of failing. The fear of failing causes a stress response. Stress causes you to contract. In a contracted state of mind, you are focused on problems and cannot access the solutions to these problems. This way your inner-speech becomes a self-fulfilling profecy. The highway to success in any domain of your life is to change your inner-speech.
What do you say to yourself repetitively? Which automated negative thoughts shape your reality? Do you tell yourself: “I’m so weak”, when you don’t keep your resolutions, or “I’m so clumsy” when things goes wrong, or “I’m so stupid” when you don’t know an answer directly. Who has planted these negative seeds in your mind that you have allowed to take root? See that they are not yours to begin with. How do you feel when you believe that statement to be true? See the effect this thought has on your feelings, words and actions.    Does this limiting self-talk help you be who you want to be? Are you willing to be held back by these thoughts?

When your mind is whimpering “I AM weak”, it is YOU who has to see the other side. It is you who has to determine how you get your mind to cross the gap, it is you who has to lead your mind to the other side, to face its fears and cross that wobbly sway bridge. You wouldn’t let your dog cross that bridge if it were too dangerous. You know that it will reach the other side safely. It is your job to create trust and lead your dog to the other side safely, even if you have never crossed that bridge before and don’t know exactly what is on the other side. You have to trust your heart’s vision. You have to trust that it will lead you safely to the other side. You have to trust that the other side is where you need to go, simply because your heart inspired you to go there. Even if you have no way of knowing for sure that the other side is the right side, you cannot let your mind know. You have to fake it till you make it.

When I was ill for almost 2 years, this is what I learned. When I was feeling exhausted, my rational mind would repeat incessantly “I AM so incredibly tired”. After  a while, I discovered that I spoke and moved my body more slowly when I had that thought. Believing that thought made me feel even more tired. So I started playing with it. Instead of focusing on being ill, I started focusing on feeling healthy. Instead of focusing on being tired, I focused on being energetic. That’s when I learned the act of bridging. If the gap between where you are and where you want to be is too big to make it in one leap, you’ll have to feel your way towards your goal. If I would have said to myself “I AM energetic”, while laying in bed, feeling exhausted, my rational mind would not have believed me. It just would have retorted. “Yeah right, and pigs fly. You’re completely exhausted, that’s what you are.” I learned to trick my mind by finding a statement that was close to the way I was feeling, but slightly better and phrased positively. It may be as simple as “I AM feeling more energetic than yesterday.” I would focus on that thought as if my life depended on it, and when I could feel the truth of it, I would find an even better feeling statement. “I AM feeling my energy increase.” I would play this game a lot, and without knowing it my mind and body were finding new steps, slowly crossing my sway bridge, until one day they reached the other side and were united with my vision for me. Today, I AM energetic. Today, my mind and body are crossing a new bridge, finding their way to “I AM an Energizer Bunny” and I love it! I AM so looking forward to feeling even more energized than I AM today.

Not all our limiting and self-sabotaging I AM’s are as clear at the example above. You define yourself in all kinds of ways, all the time. You may say, “I AM a gourmand”, unintentionally giving yourself permission to indulge in food, or “I AM just a C”, inadvertedly giving your brain the command to stop looking after a certain while, because you are ‘not smart enough‘ to find the solution. Or you say to yourself, “That’s who I AM”, unconsciously reinforcing the belief that you are powerless and unable to change your behavior.

Eventhough you may not see or feel the truth of it yet, you are SPECIAL, you are TALENTED, and you are GORGEOUS. Now, listen to your inner-speech. Which I AM’s are keeping you from all that you already ARE on the inside? Which I AM’s are keeping you from living your vision. Then ask yourself, which I AM is standing on the other side of this gap? How can you help your mind take a new step? Which statement in the direction of this new truth would feel true enough for your mind to believe? Which statement do you feel calm and assertive about? Which statement do you know to be attainable? Try the new statement. See how your mind reacts. When you feel resistance, find a statement that is even closer to where you are. When you feel no resistance, focus on your new thought. Write it down, repeat it aloud, do whatever it takes for your mind and body to feel the truth of this new step, to feel confident about it. Repeat these steps until you it reach the other side. This way your mind will keep up with the vision you have for your life. When you keep moving forward there will always be new dreams to live and new bridges to conquer. Somehow crossing new bridges doesn’t get less scary, but you’ll get more confident and you get to enjoy the process of working towards your dreams. So, what bridge are you crossing? What will be your next step?


In the next article, I’ll discuss the important role acceptance has in the process of letting go.


Picture is by Beth Borchardt from Akekal


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