One of the things that I think is cool about transformational work, is witnessing people develop a profound sense of reverence for themselves, in all the ways they show up to life.
This cultivation of reverence is an essential ingredient for, and inevitable result of, transformation.
Holding reverence for yourself is the act of relinquishing the right to dismiss anything you do. There are many ways we dismiss ourselves.
For example, if I sat down and asked you why you procrastinated (assuming that’s a complaint you have about yourself), the common response would be something along the lines of “I don’t know, I’m just lazy.”
That’s a dismissal of yourself.
You’re not providing yourself much credit in that moment of introspection — you look at the pattern of behaviour you don’t like, and you chalk it up to something being fundamentally broken about yourself.
Transformation only becomes possible when we start with the foundation that everything you do is there for a reason. And not a stupid reason, not a bad reason, not a reason like you were just born a little broken — none of those kinds of reasons.
Everything you do is there for a reason that makes absolute sense, if only we are able to get down deep enough to see what is driving your behaviour.
Modern attempts at personal growth and change tend to operate very close to the surface. Because of our allergies to our own perceived shortcomings, we lack the patience and resolve to go much deeper than the surface desire to eradicate what we see isn’t working.
Questions that might support us to go deeper, like “What do you think would have you delaying this task?” land on us like a nuisance, or, at best, something we just need to answer quickly so we can get to the real work of excising this pattern from ourselves forever.
It’s like being unaware of the fact that we’re standing in a forest, and finding ourselves continually confronted by the problem of a tree blocking our path.
We don’t want to slow down to ponder and answer the question “Why do I think I keep getting blocked by trees.” Instead, we rush to get a sharper ax, more endurance in our biceps, take classes on how to cut down trees effectively, and so on.
We’re convinced that we just need to get past this immediate problem, and then everything will be different.
The definition of reverence is:
- “Deep respect for someone or something.”
In the practice of cultivating reverence for yourself, you deliberately slow down. You set aside the urgent need to resolve the stressor in front of you in this moment, so that you can take stock of the bigger picture.
In fact, rather than attempting to overcome or resolve (which are both code for “eliminate”) the habits you have that you don’t like, you instead practise bringing a deep respect to them.
Reverence is often used in the spiritual context, to describe the way we hold the manifestation of God, and this is the same way you are learning to cultivate holding yourself.
If God showed up in front of you, and started procrastinating on something, you wouldn’t simply dismiss it as being an act of laziness. You would be curious — fascinated even — about what was going on.
“I wonder why God is procrastinating on this task. There must be some reason behind it. I wonder if I can fathom what that is.”
By cultivating this kind of reverence for yourself, you develop an ability to sit with yourself, exactly as you are, and get curious about what may be underneath your behaviour.
Your urgent need to fix the parts of yourself you despise, slowly morphs into a willingness to sit patiently in partnership with them.
As time wears on, you reach a point where you can be at such peace with yourself that you don’t actually need to change, present as you are to the majesty, beauty and brilliance of all that you have created within.
And from this place, real, lasting transformation, can actually begin to take hold. Free of the need for you to be different than you already are, you are left with the freedom to explore without agenda, simply bringing love, curiosity and reverence to the person you’ve ended up as.
Only from this place can different behaviours emerge as a real choice. Not because you have to eliminate something that’s wrong with you, but because you’re present to the pay-offs and the consequences of a particular behaviour. And you’re ready for something different.
From there, everything is possible.
So set down the stick. What is a behaviour you have that you could begin cultivating reverence towards?