the wisdom of being instead of doing

3rd May 2019

This mural is outside St Paul’s Community Centre and reads: ‘there is nothing wrong in learning from hindsight’.
This mural is inspired by Sanfoka, from the Twi language of Ghana that translates as ‘go back and get it’.

Right now I am not sipping espresso in Pienza, planning a weekend of excursions with my dear friend Jane.

My teenage self, who dreamed of driving Tuscan roads and sitting down to lunches of pillow-soft figs drizzled in olive oil, is having conniptions.

Frankly, six months ago me who would have taken the Ibuprofen downed a Red Bull and gotten on the plane, is somewhat confused.

As a ‘Conductor’ archetype, my self-doubt shows up in proving myself. I’m really good at being productive and I’ve enjoyed a tonne of rewards from working hard.

But if we are always getting a kick from getting things done, we can end up prioritising productivity over presence – because we’re always thinking about the next thing. And we can end up feeling guilty for resting – because rest must be earned and we’ve never done enough.

If this feels familiar, it can be helpful to remember that we don’t come to believe ideas in isolation. We learn and internalise how to be in the world from our family systems, and from the wider cultural narratives that we digest throughout our lives.

Capitalism requires us to conflate what we do, with who we are.

Maybe it’s my advancing years, perhaps it’s that near-death thing, but I just don’t buy this bullshit any longer.

We can begin to unhook ourselves from the matrix (our planet might just depend on it). And I don’t believe this requires us to forgo all possessions, weave our clothes from hemp and join a vegan commune (although that doesn’t sound too awful – who’s with me?)

There are loads of ways to practice being instead of doing, but here’s what I’ve been experimenting with:

Since January, I’ve been attending a weekly circle exploring what it means to be a spiritual human. It’s a dogma-free, meditation-heavy, expansive space of reflection that feels rich and necessary.

And I have begun evening classes in energy healing. We meet in a community centre and share hummus and vege and practice together. It’s moving and vulnerable and joyous.

After spending so long being all up in my head, it’s been lovely to come back to my heart, to my body.

I’m learning that trusting my heart and my body is a relationship. I need to slow down and listen in. Sometimes this will mean hearing inconvenient truths.

Like forgoing a weekend away because my body is tired and my heart is adjusting and I need to advocate for myself. Like letting down a beloved friend I have looked forward to seeing for months, and worrying about what this disappointment might do to our friendship.

But the one thing I do know is that my body doesn’t lie.

I think this is how we tell the difference between our gut instinct and self-doubt: our body wisdom, our intuition will always prioritise what will bring us back to homeostasis – physiological equilibrium – the fastest.

This means the most self-compassionate choice will feel like the best one (and sometimes this will be the ‘least shitty option’).

So here I am with four days of not-Italy stretching before me. And right now I feel calm (and a little sad), grounded (and a bit disappointed).

What is your body, your heart trying to tell you?
What is at risk for you if you allow yourself to just be?



Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totallyInstagram - join me there?


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